Aling Pepay, My Mom

A fitting tribute having this first post about my mom.

229387_1952967353539_4151167_n.jpgIt’s her birthday tomorrow. She would have been 82 years old, and pretty sure would be rockin’ it with her ballroom buddies had she not passed away eight years ago.

It was hard to see my mom succumb to the big C knowing how high-spirited she was. When I go to my therapy sessions, my friend who’s driving me often recalls how we are always on the road with her. She would say that Nanay would have loved to go places, and I couldn’t agree more.

When she got sick, my sister was the one looking after her full-time while I worked (again) overseas. 6-months after she was diagnosed, my sister called us to say “if we want to say our goodbyes to Nanay we have to go home soon”. I was in Bangkok, Thailand when I received the call, attending training. Without thinking twice, I dropped the 2nd week of the training and changed my ticket to go home.

From the airport, I went to the hospital even though it was almost midnight when I arrived, thinking it was the wise thing to do, to surprise her and we will all be happy. But I was the one who got the surprise of my life … she doesn’t recognise me! I was shocked, I cried but then again I knew, that her memory started to go. There are days when she doesn’t even recognise my dad, but when she’s lucid, we can’t stop laughing and wishing the moment would last.

Exchanges between Mom and Dad, while he’s carrying her off the wheelchair to the bed …

Mom: Who are you? (Sino ka?)

Dad: Your husband. (Asawa mo)

Mom: Really, why do you carry me? (Talaga? Bakit mo ako binubuhat?)

Dad: Because I love you (Kasi mahal kita)

Mom: Che! (an expression when you try to dismiss someone because you don’t  believe)

Growing up years … 

I grew up with only my mom raising four of us while my dad works overseas. She raised us by showing us that in spite of our standing in life — meaning not being wealthy, it should not stop us from helping others in dire situations than us.

She would bring all four of us to the church to join the Legion of Mary, we each have our own group and forced to be in the church attending meetings on weekends, forced to mingle with people while trying hard to show I am my moms good daughter (but hey, who am i kidding *wink). Those weekend church work plus being educated in a Catholic school opened my eyes to the reality around me in my young adult life.

My neighborhood is not the first class gated neighborhood in the city of Manila. Yes, we lived in an enclosed compound, privately owned, but there was nothing posh about it. We are like an enclave in the middle of the slums, and a dirty creek divides the poor from one of the first class university in the metro – DLSU Taft.  So when mom asked us to join the church organisation, we were sensitised on how people lived around us by going house to house, praying the rosary and talking to them about life and faith. It was very humbling (but in the beginning I was grumbling a lot), as a kid, I didn’t take notice of that until I grew up and started working for people in difficult situations too.

Last moments …

In her hospital bed, mom kept on praying the rosary and our bedtime prayer – Angel of God. She has forgotten everyone, my dad and us, her friends and other relatives, but not her prayers and Andrae (the little girl we took in as our own).  My sister said that is because the angels are enveloping mom with their graces and love preparing her for her time with God.

Angel of God, my Guardian dear, to whom His love commits me here, ever this day (or night) be at my side, to light and guard, to rule and guide. Amen.

Through and through my moms a Legion of Mary.  Her tombstone was etched with its logo, announcing to everyone that Aling Pepay, as she’s fondly remembered by the kids in my neighborhood growing up, and Sister Josie, to her church friends and the people she visited in the slums, the prison and even to the seafarers in Kalaw, Ermita where she gives out the rosaries she lovingly assemble while watching her favorite afternoon shows, that she truly is one of the Legionaries of Mary until the end.

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I miss Nanay every day, but I know as my brother, grandfather and other relatives with her in heaven, she’s looking out for us.

THE CATENA LEGIONIS

Antiphon. Who is she that comes forth as the morning rising, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, terrible as an army set in battle array?

(Make the Sign of the Cross) v. My soul glorifies the Lord.* R. My spirit rejoices in God, my Saviour. v. He looks on His servant in her lowliness;* henceforth all ages will call me blessed.

R. The Almighty works marvels for me.* Holy His name! v. His mercy is from age to age,* on those who fear Him.

R. He puts forth His arm in strength* and scatters the proud-hearted. v. He casts the mighty from their thrones* and raises the lowly.

R. He fills the starving with good things,* sends the rich away empty.

v. He protects Israel His servant,* remembering His mercy, R. The mercy promised to our fathers,* to Abraham and his sons for ever.

v. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.. R. As it was in the beginning is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Antiphon. Who is she that comes forth as the morning rising, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, terrible as an army set in battle array?

v. O Mary, conceived without sin. R. Pray for us who have recourse to you.

Let us pray. O Lord Jesus Christ, our mediator with the Father, Who has been Pleased to appoint the Most Blessed Virgin, Your mother, to be our mother also, and our mediatrix with You, mercifully grant that whoever comes to You seeking Your favours may rejoice to receive all of them through her. Amen.

Happy birthday Nanay. You’re much-loved and never forgotten.

 

 

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