Hello, readers! It’s been a while since my last substantial post. Blame it on laziness and lack of inspiration.
Something really struck me today. It was a line from Isa’s blogpost that says “Tell me about who you’d call if it was your last hour on Earth”. I paused for a moment and thought about my mom, then my dad, then my sisters. Just thinking about the possibility of a last conversation with them made me a bit teary eyed. I reached for my phone and sent mom and dad an “i love you” message. Growing up, we weren’t really the “iloveyou” kind of family. It was only after we graduated from college that we started being more verbal and showy. I guess it’s part of getting old, realizing that we can’t keep our loved ones forever, forgiving and understanding our parents and stripping away that rebel part of ourselves.
Sometimes, I look back at my young self and wish she was more mature, more understanding, more forgiving but then I look at myself now and smile at how much I have grown and have become a better person. I guess this is the age where you say “Mom, you are right. Mom, I don’t want to lose you.” I can’t describe how much pride I have for my mom and dad for raising 5 children and holding their marriage together.
It was a scratch and scrape for my parents to send all of their children to a private school. We used to live in a really small house. Me and my 3 sisters were all crammed in a small room with two bunk beds. My brother had his own room at the basement, one of which smelled like burnt lead and smoldering socks. We moved to the bigger house (beside our old small house) when I started college. It was a house that took 10 years for my dad to build. The cool thing is that it’s got rollers, something that supposedly lessens the impact of an earthquake. That is the bonus of having a Civil Engineer for a dad. I think it was living in a small house and sleeping in a single room that made me and my sisters the best of friends. Sure, we had those cat fights when we were young. There was a time when I made my sister’s nose bleed, a time when we threw anything at each other, a time when my sister chased me with a knife but we outgrew those and became what we are now.
My parents thought us to be thrifty. Our family did not invest on material things. We grew up with a single TV, no family computer (we just borrowed it from our cousins), a black and white VHS player which was given as a gift, no components, etc. Nothing of those. The only thing my parents saw to it was that we never got hungry. The only luxury they provided was dining out every Sunday, after mass. I think that is the biggest lesson my parents taught us, how to value the time spent as a family, more than anything.
We weren’t perfect. My parents did not have a perfect marriage. We’ve seen them at their worst. My dad crying to us must have been the most heartbreaking thing I’ve seen. This was back when I was in high school. He cried about how his children seemed to love their mother more than their father. I’ve seen my mom cry many times but to see my dad crumble was something else. My dad was a very strict and stern-looking man, a figure me and my siblings were afraid of. Due to his work, there were times when he was seldom home. His projects were mostly out of town so we got used to seeing him less. None of us was a daddy’s girl, sad as it is. He wasn’t a showy man but he loved his family quietly by providing well. There were times when I wished I had a different father, a cool dad or something. I remember hating him for a time. It was only after college that I learned to forgive him and love him for the person that he is. He is not only my father but he is also his own person. I’ve heard my mom say several times that she was staying only because of her children, because of us. But that was a long time ago. I’m just really glad that they’re still together and I think they have grown to love each other more over the years. I can see it now. It’s quite comforting to know they still have each other, now that all their children moved out, all grown up. I can see how much they’re afraid of losing each other at this point.
Just relieving all of these fragments of my childhood makes me feel so so much blessed. I was blessed with an imperfectly beautiful family, one that I am proud of.
Last month our complete family headed to the beach. It was something we haven’t done in over a decade. While we were having our afternoon merienda of spaghetti and grilled fish, 4 women selling lobsters came over to us. My mother and brother in law tried to bargain but the women were firm with their price. Then, they asked for some spaghetti in exchange of a kilo of lobster. While my mom was handing over the plates of spaghetti to them, the woman who was carrying the pale of lobsters walked out and headed to the shore. My mom was a little annoyed that they committed to give some lobsters but walked out after taking the spaghetti. Then my brother calmly said, “Hayaan mo na sila. At least hindi tayo ang nanlilimos ng pagkain.” (Let them be. At least we’re not the ones begging for food.) To which my father voiced his agreement.