She would have turned 83 today. She is an ordinary woman who had an extra-ordinary life. She was, and will always be my mother, my Nanay.
It is amazing how Nanay turned out to be the mother that she was, when she had lost her own mother when she was just 7 months old. She had wanted to be a teacher, but she had her first child when she was barely 20, followed in succession by 8 more. She did not make it to a classroom, but she taught valuable lessons in life to her 9 children.
Nanay was far from perfect. She had her moods, her ups and downs. She gets angry, she cries when she feels bad. But she was never haughty, she kept her feet firmly on the ground. She was fair to her workers and to everyone else she dealt with. She knows the dignity of labor, and made sure that her children know this as well early on.
She earned her own keep, but never considered the fruits of her labor as her own. Whatever she earned, it was shared with her family and those who came to her for help. She was a doting daughter to her father, and a loving and solicitous sister to her brothers and sisters. Her father remarried even before she can walk, and she was left to the care of her aunts. But she never showed any resentment towards him. She adored him, and was devastated when he passed away. Her best friend was her elder sister Ate Mely, and was fiercely loyal and protective of her Kuya Rusty. Yet, she also loved her younger half brothers and half sisters as if they had the same mother.
Nanay loved Tatay the best way she knew. She was not showy, but she supported him in all that he did. She was an entrepreneur extraordinaire, but remained a full-time mother and wife at the same time. When Nanay got sick in her later years, Tatay took care of her and never left her side. I did not see it then, but only a love so deep, so intense and so passionate could have seen them through those difficult years.
It’s been 12 years since Nanay passed on, but her spirit lives on in the people whose lives she had touched. Her accomplishments lay not in what she had achieved in life, but what we had become in life because of her.
Happy Birthday Nanay!