Today’s column:”Happy Mother’s Day!”
Motherâ€™s Day is a marketing ploy engineered to drive families out of their homes and into the malls of their choice. Flower shops welcome this day as delicate bouquets of mums, carnations, and roses are lovingly put together as floral tributes to mothers around the country. Hallmark cards are chosen carefully and sent by courier or mail from various points in the world by overseas Filipinos to their mothers back home. Text messages flit in and out of the air like arrows tipped with love and nostalgia as mothers, children, nephews, nieces, spouses, and friends celebrate Motherâ€™s Day.Â Thank God for commerce!
As a mother, I am delighted to have my own day of pampered bliss. One of my favorite Motherâ€™s Day gifts was when my daughter Estelle gave me a booklet of coupons, one for each calendar day. I can select which coupon to give to her on any given day and she is duty-bound to do it. We forgot about the coupons a few days after Motherâ€™s Day but Estelleâ€™s expressed desire to make me happy throughout the yearÂ still blossoms in my garden of memories.Â Motherhood has opened my eyes to the enormous sacrifices that my own mother had to make in raising seven children and a husband with politics on his mind. My motherâ€™s name is Susana, and I am her junior. To avoid confusion over which letter belongs to whom, I long decided to drop the â€œaâ€ and use Susan as my first name instead. My twenty-year old daughterâ€™s name is Susanne Laurie, which is a modern combination of her grandmothersâ€™ names, Susana and Laura. On Sundays, the three of us, would often meet at my fatherâ€™s grave at the Libingan ng mga Bayani to offer a prayer and say hello, then have lunch afterwards with my other nephews and nieces, and brothers and sister.Â I still marvel at how my mother (if I reveal her age this column will self-destruct!), petite as she is, was able to go through seven childbirths and raise five boys and two girls while serving as a pillar of support to her own parents and my father when they were still alive. At that time, there were no cellphones to keep track of every family member.Â From baptisms to weddings to christenings of grandchildren, my parents were a constant source of love and support. I would not exchange my childhood for anyoneâ€™s, no matter that I spent most of it with my younger brothers as playmates. We had fun playing basketball in the garage, looking for spiders on trees and walls for the traditional spider fight on a stick, and playing Games of the Generals with Deep Purple blaring in our living room. (â€œIyan ang gagambang demonyo,â€ my brothers Toti and Bulos would tell me while pointing to a tiny spider kept hostage in a matchbox. Sadly, todayâ€™s kids are confined to games and adventures on a computer screen. )Â Â Â When my father died, my mother was forced to create her own routine. While discussing her options, I told her that her first priority should be to enjoy herself. â€œTravel around the world, if you want,â€ I said. Later on, I realized the insensitivity of my remark. My mother had traveled around the world, with my father, and foreign travel would only remind her more about him and the places they have seen together.Â Nevertheless, families do adjust to the beat of passing time, and now, my mother has chosen to spend weekdays in our home in Calamba, Laguna. Had he been alive, that was where my father wanted to retire and write his memoirs with a view of Laguna Lake from his balcony. That house with its lush garden, swimming pool with waterfalls, and a view deck that overlooks the placid waters of Laguna Lake, now doubles as a private resort. She likes to dote on her customers while tending to the garden that lays serenely a few steps from her doorstep. When we meet on weekends, she has stories to tell, about debuts and weddings, corporate outings and families that enjoy our humble Calamba home as a sanctuary from the madness of city-life.ÂÂ In my own household, Estelle and I enjoy a friendship that permeates every cozy corner of the townhouse that we live in. Our seven dogs bring us an assortment of noise and a much-needed daily accounting of mangled slippers and new holes in our living room couch. We enjoy watching reality shows, swapping books, and surfing the Internet. I do not have to know every little detail of her life because I know the totality of her and thus, trust her judgment.Â Today, we will have lunch â€“ Susana, Susan and Susanne, with the rest of the family. It will be a simple lunch to celebrate Motherâ€™s Day. In life, there is one absolute certainty: no one can love you like your own mother does. Remember that, and make your mother know how much she is appreciated on Motherâ€™s Day.Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â