June 13, 2011

Her Name Is Liberty

She is my mom and she just celebrated her 81st birthday last June 9. She is the second child in a family of seven and the oldest girl. She lost her mom before she turned 10 and her Dad, my grandfather, took a second wife who just doted on her daughter and did not care much for the seven kids she inherited from her husband.

So at a tender age of 9, she would mother her siblings, cook for them, clean their huge narra house, carry heavy stuff. She spent her “childhood” in Mindoro and in the province, kids would walk 4 kilometers just to go to school. She would walk 4 kilometers again to go back home, where chores, that now include working for the stepmom and her daughter, the 8th sib, await her.

When she turned 12, Japan invaded the Philippines. Although nothing horrible happened to our family, she experienced how it was to hide and be terrified at a young age.

At 23, she married my father and gave birth to 8 children. One of my brothers, Kuya Nick, died of leukemia at the age of 5. When my Dad was in his 50’s, he became sickly because of a bout with cirrhosis and was in and out of the hospital (and in and out of coma) for three years before he died at 58. In the wake, all of us looked so frail and vulnerable as a result of this devastation but my Mom remained strong and almost stoic, as if tired and resigned from all the tragedies that befell her.

She now shuttles between the Philippines, where I and 3 other brothers stay, and the US, where 2 sisters and 1 brother now live. She spent her 81st birthday there and these are her recent pictures.

Growing up, we idolized our Dad because of his intelligence, fortitude and his ramrod straight values that we still remember to this day. My Mom idolized him, too. But if he were still alive, I am sure he would be proud of what my Mom has achieved. She’s emotionally strong, unwavering in her faith, fiercely passionate about her children and grandchildren, eternally optimistic, overly funny (silly even). I cannot imagine that one will have such an incredible sense of humor after going through so much in life. I am so lucky to have a mother like her.

Happy girl with my brother in law, Steve and friends.
I just love the reversed birthday candles. 


Felicity said...

Happy birthday to your incredible Mother.
I hope that she enjoys all the riches of a life well-lived - it's not difficult to imagine that she truly is an inspiration to you, your siblings and all whom she meets.

xx Felicity

Cate said...

Oh she sounds so amazing!! She has the perfect name too. No wonder you love her so much!!
happy birthday to your beautiful mother

Romina Garcia said...

That's a beautiful story.
Happy Birthday to your amazing Mum (who looks FANTASTIC by the way) x

supermac said...

Thank you for all the great things you said about my mother ;-)

Kymmie said...

I'm so sorry I haven't visited much lately. But I'm back and having a huge catch up!

This is one amazing story. Your mum is one special person, and so brave and strong!

I think our children don't know the heartache of our forefathers and those who have gone before them. It's a hard life for so many, which is something so incredibly fantastic about the human spirit - the ability to love and survive.