We are our mother’s sons, says Manong Ralph, after reviewing a short video I took using my phone, our mother being the subject. We have the same expressions—how we wrinkle our eyes to prove a point, or how we moan “uhuh” when we agree with the other person but not a hundred percent, or how we hunch our backs after narrating a story. This is how we torment her: by making her uncomfortable with the virtual reality of her existence; by making her hear herself and the high-pitched tone of her voice; and by warning her that the said video will be posted on this blog—a website her friends from all over the world apparently visit, or so they had confessed during their high school reunion last year.
None can compare with the sacrifices she and my father have made to discipline us and to raise us in the ways of the Lord. Manong remembers being shaken into consciousness at 5 AM so Nanay could prepare him for his exam. He was six. I remember being asked to spell “discipline” right before the Christmas show in church, and how she beamed with pride when I got it right. She then asked me, after a few weeks, if I could spell “bourgeois.” I was seven. Perhaps she got tired of pushing our youngest, Sean, to study, having supported him instead in sports—in swimming, even if he was short; and in table tennis, which he later became a winner of.
Nanay met her college dorm mate a few weeks ago; they haven’t seen each other in 20 years. We asked her about our mother. We learned that, as a student, she skipped some of her classes so she could finish a novel. She also excelled at cramming. She hardy ever studied but managed to get good grades. Nanay was flushed at this confession. After all, she was the one who used to tell me, when I was young, to stop reading and to play outside—I’d be tired of reading by the time I went to med school. She also chided me for not studying enough in med school, a fact I assumed completely responsibility for.
The past months have been moments of transition. Nanay has turned 60, and we have gradually taken on the role of caring for her and our father, who grow old by the day. She complains of body aches every whenever I call, and this is how I show my love—by telling her to take her pain medications, and to reassure her that things will get better. By the grace of God, they will. I always say this—that God has given us the mother we needed. For that, and for the many things she has done and continue to do, we are forever grateful.
Happy Mother’s Day, Nay.