My mother: What a way to go!

Granted, everybody thinks his/her mother is the best in the world.

Take a look at mine:

She worked hard to fulfill the two roles she had to play in life -- as a mother and as a grade school teacher.

When I was a kid, I wondered if my mother ever slept -- I would see her writing her lesson plan at the dining table before I went to bed, and see her still writing there when I went down from my room the following morning.

She was so honest and fair that when she became my Grade IV teacher (to her horror and mine!), she treated me like the rest of the class. No tips in advance regarding quizzes and tests. She would compute my grades in secret, and felt uneasy when no matter how many times she computed and recomputed, I still came out as First Honors at the end of the school year.

She washed, ironed, cooked (she could whip up a seven course meal during fiestas, all by herself), cleaned the house, even bathed the dogs, without any complaint.

She never enjoyed shopping and wore the same set of clothes and shoes year after year, unmindful of fashion.

She was overflowing with charity, and would not think twice about sharing her pan de sal at recess time with a pupil who had no money for snacks.

She seldom cried and when she did, she would do it quietly, fully in control of herself. Like when she had a miscarriage after waiting for ten years to get pregnant, or when my father died one night and the neighbors were left undisturbed as they slept.

When she retired at age 60, she seamlessly blended with the rest of the neighbors, shedding her image as a teacher and becoming a plain housekeeper.

By the time she died at age 77 in 2000,  Mrs. Valmonte, the teacher, had become Aling Paring, the neighborhood children's kind lola.

She was so simple and unassuming that she never wore make up when she was alive; she was too dead to complain when the undertaker had his way.

She was so deeply religious and wore the blue Catholic Women's League uniform to her grave, as she had instructed long before the need arose.

She wanted to be interred in the most inexpensive wooden coffin, something that was followed with much reservation.

Seven years after her death, people who had encountered her continue to reminisce about her with fondness.

What a way to go... what a way to go!

[September 15, 2007]
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