Mother is 67, Going 68, and I Am 49 July 22, 2008Posted by Dine Racoma in My Poetry.
Tags: poem for mother
by Dine Racoma
He was 26, she was 17 when they got married
Mother, one of 6 sisters and 1 brother, not even a high school graduate
She didn’t like school, they were so poor she was not motivated
She was tomboyish, she didn’t even know what she was going through
When Father, one of 11 brothers and 1 sister (plus a few more half siblings)
A fine budding optometrist, aggressive, brimming with youth
Proposed to her. Mother said “Kasal kung kasal” (“wedding and no other”)
Father found himself proposing marriage through my grandmother
Immediately followed a wedding, by a judge and a priest one month thereafter.
They had 3 children, 1 girl and 2 boys, those were me and my 2 brothers.
He was 42, she was 33, and I was 16, my brothers 14 and 12
Father suddenly disappeared, everyone thought he was captured by the NPAs
A few years later Mother found out that he was living with another woman
With whom he bore a son and a daughter, it came to us as a shock.
What pained Mother more was that Father’s family knew about it all the time.
Mother hurt inside, Mother toiled, Mother sacrificed, Mother cried
Even if I and my siblings were too young to understand, we also hurt inside
We were in want of a father, of more food, of new clothes, of things material
But most of all of a mother who would shower us with affection
It was naught, I don’t remember any public show of affection, nor hugs nor kisses
She was just a mother, spurned, she cooked for us, she bathed us
She brought us to school, she went to church with us, she took care of us
She did all sorts of jobs, sewing, selling insurance and helping my grandmother
Mother must have been contented seeing us her children shine
Herself staying behind the scenes, watching us accomplish our dreams
Taking pride in discussing our insignificant achievements
She must have ignored her interests in letting us her children fulfil our ambitions
She must have been humiliated and hurting all the time, but she was good to us.
Flashback to my growing years
We were happy despite Father’s temperament and Mother’s country girl act
We had fun with our playmates, we played by the river, we wove dreams
Each year we always looked forward to a 2-week holiday in Baguio City
Father and Mother were a happy go lucky motorcycle riding couple
Zooming in and out of highways, chilling out with other motorcycle riding friends
Leaving us children in the care of my grandmother, uncle and aunts
But it was not all fun. Father was strict. He was hard on one of my brothers
Who had difficulty in school. How he would spank and whip and curse
While Mother looked helplessly away, while I and my other brother cowered in fear
The next day would just be an ordinary day, as if nothing untoward happened at all.
Through all my young years, Father never allowed me to have boy friends
Boy, was I really afraid, I dared not break his rules. All I did was study and read
People thought I was the perfect daughter, obedient, loving and caring
Little did they know that inside I was rebelling, inside I was wanting for affection.
Grandmother was the person who showered me with affection
She would bring me everywhere she went, proud of her little girl
She must have been hard on herself and her 6 daughters and 1 son
Whom she raised all by herself from the time her husband died
A month before she gave birth to her youngest child.
But with me, she was all soft, and gentle, and sweet, and pampering
I was her world, she showered me with hugs and kisses, just like a mother would
She was my security blanket, my comfort, my pseudo mother
Bless her soul, she was 70 when she died, I was 37, and I cried a lot.
He was 47, she was 38, and I was 21 when I walked down the aisle
On that beautiful Wednesday morning, 27 years ago, my wedding day
Father must have cried inside all the time, her little girl turned to a woman
Unable to bear it all, tears fell down his face, while Mother was beaming with pride
Maybe like all fathers would on their daughter’s wedding day he was unsure
That his daughter has made the right decision and was ready for marriage
Despite his leaving the coop, I was still the apple of Father’s eyes.
Mother lived with me from the time I gave birth to my second child
Father never failed to visit each time I had a baby, all 4 boys and 3 girls
He would come for birthdays, anniversaries, sometimes just to surprise
When he got ill, Mother and I took him away from his second family
To tend for him, to make up for lost time, to bring him back to God
He was 69 when he passed away, Mother was 60, I was 42
I was in Beijing and I had to come home, numb with feelings because no matter what
He was still my Father. I cried for the last time, to say my final good-bye.
Mother is 67, going 68, and I am 49
Mother is Mommylola to my kids, Ma or “Inda” to me
Sometimes she is my friend, sometimes my enemy, sometimes in between
Sometimes I don’t understand her, sometimes I lose my patience
Sometimes she doesn’t understand me, sometimes she loses her patience
I feel guilty, she feels guilty, what goes between us is a complex set of emotions
A seesaw of feelings, of anger, sometimes resentment, sometimes competition
But most of all, love, and a bond that exists only between a mother and daughter
I am headstrong, determined to be the head of my home, not her
Perhaps because we both have strong personalities, extremes in many ways
With the kids, she is all soft, and warm and cuddly
She pampers them, kisses them, hugs them, and tells them, “I love you”
Public displays of affection never experienced with her while I was growing up
Her voice dominates the house, her laughter is contaminating
She talks incessantly, she nags but with good intentions
She takes care of my household, the dogs, the kids, my husband and me
Mother is 67, going 68, and I am 49
Together we mature in many ways, knowing our imperfections
Learning to be more of friends than enemies, more of partners than competitors
Side by side we go through daily struggles, hardships and obstacles
I appreciate what Mother has done for the family through all the years
She has respected my individuality, my opinions and considered my advice
We have learned to share sensitivity, empathy, wisdom, will power, dedication
Perseverance and firmness that we pass on to my children, her grandchildren
I find gratification for her unconditional love, encouragement, prayers
And respect for all the things valued in life because of her
While I, her daughter, become a pillar of support for Mother in the later years
We go through the innumerable struggles of this love-hate relationship
Through the conflicts and disagreements
No other relation is as perfect as this complex but strong bond
Shared between my Mother, 67, going 68, and me, her daughter, 49.
Published in The D Spot on 2 March 2007.