Songs that my mother taught me

My first knowledge of the world and about life came to me through my senses. They were directed by my mother.

She was the first person I saw, felt and depended on, on the day I was born.

Everything made me wail desperately—hunger, light and anger.

The memory of my mother and her teachings were, after all, what I have made my way.

I remember the day I guided her to her flight gate. It was the last time I saw my mother alive. She turned around, waved at us and smiled blithely. She cheered us with her mirth.

She was the most beautiful woman I have ever seen.

I missed her until I ached. I missed her steadfast faith in a loving unseen God, her complete love for her family anchored on the dictum “Love one another.” Giving all, asking little and accepting less. There never was a woman like her.

She was rich and a treasured gift from God, who taught us what real love meant: sharing the hurts, hopes, joys and homecomings.

When we grew older and went our separate ways, she said love is about staying when it would be easier to leave, defending when others accuse and holding on when you’re tempted to let go. Most importantly, it is letting go when you desperately want to hold on.

She was an accomplished gardener—her orchids bloomed in the moonlight and her roses grew even in winter.

But her five girls were her fertile field. In the soul of the human heart, she was perfect.

In her children’s hearts, she had tenderly planted the seeds of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness and self-control. She courageously protected that precious field from destruction and uninvited strangers.

When spiritual or physical tribulations threatened her brood, she worked with a bleeding hand to protect the roots of life from violent storms, as she struggled through seasons of growth, celebrated unharmed growth as she weeded, watered, plowed and prayed.

When our hearts got broken or when our dreams fell apart, she would remind us that God holds the key to real happiness. He is the rebuilder of dashed hopes and shattered dreams. Her cheerful heart and encouragement were transfusions of courage.

Her weekend mornings were meant for special things, and anybody who messed with the divine plan placed her health and eternal happiness in great danger.

Yet, when the grand and great grandchildren came, she found joy in Saturday and Sunday mornings, filled with scampering feet, raucous laughter and squeals of “Apong!”

She relished her home, straightened just yesterday and now strewn with toys and coloring books.

She was always a tender nurse beside the bed of a sick child; a diplomatic disciplinarian; and a mighty warrior against the force of evil which threatened her domain.

She taught us that laughter would lengthen your life span, improve your marriage and increase your humility.

She would have liked her funeral. It had decorum and dash—grief borne nobly, as were her very ways.

It was full of children, laborers, lawyers and judges. It had a marvelous eyeful jumble of the mighty and the obscure, with the sounds of the day smashingly appropriate.

The tolling of the bells and her loved ones’ silent laments blended with elegiac Schubert, Toselli, Romberg, Mendelssohn, Debussy and the lugubrious songs of lost love by Nicanor Abelardo and Buencamino.

She would have seen every person she had helped—the simple folks of labor, their employees, her grieving friends. Each one bore tales and evoked her so vividly that tears splashed on the red carpet and benches of the parlor. They all wept, but nobody broke down.

I believe that God has a special place for her and that she and her friends are happy and singing “I Love Thee,” Schubert’s “Ave Maria,” “When I Grow Too Old To Dream,” and “Ay, Ay Kalisud.”

“Come on,” she would coax me. “You sing alto, it goes like this, and I’ll sing soprano.”

She was a coloratura soprano. I’d rush to her with joy because I knew how happy it would make her as I accompanied her on the piano.

She would sing a capella, “Trees,” “Indian Love Call,”  “Nasaan ka Irog”  “La Golondrina,” “None But the Lonely Hearts” and “On Wings of Song.”

They are the most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard.

Today, she would have been 91. Happy Birthday, Mumsy!


E-mail Mylah at [email protected]

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