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A Never Ending Thanks To Grandparents

Ever experienced being grounded by you own parent only to find out that the terms of discipline had changed? Personally I never did but if you ask my kids, they will attest that such incident did  not happen just once and that they are thankful they have my own mother to run for their rescue. Not that my mom meddled every now and then and even though my kids all grew up with her in the same household she had learned through the years when to let her presence felt and when to step back. Besides she knows how independent and hard headed her grandkids that taking a firm stand had helped a great deal in bringing them up with their feet planted on the ground.

Contrary to my kids upbringing, my grandmother( my dad’s mom) had lived next door  where I only get to see her mostly during afternoons after school and who only visited us when she watched her favorite Sunday TV Mass. My sister and I  would fetch her favorite gardener, Cynthia, also a relative so she could water and take care of her plants This grandma of mine had a green thumb and had lots of roses and bougainvilleas, all lined up in pots. Funny what motivated me and my sister every afternoon to follow her orders was the incentive we got in fetching Cynthia, a ten centavo coin where we can get to buy our choice of candy. There was even a time that this grandma of ours gave me a raincheck for being included on the top five of my 1st grade class. A whooping 200 Php which I gave to my dad so he could keep it and just give me the money I needed each time I bought my favorite candy or bubble gum.

On the other hand my mom’s mom we call Lola Oyang was the independent and proactive grandma who we only visited during school breaks. She chose to stay in her hometown where she grew up that we literally have to take two provincial busses and a ship to get there. And since traveling and having a vacation would entail a lot of money, we cannot visit her very year. I could recall visiting  her place three times, the last one being the saddest as that was the year she had crossed over.

My kids also never got the chance to see and be with any of their grandfathers and just like me, they grew up not knowing how it felt to have a grandfather by their side. Though they do have a grand uncle who they get to visit during Christmas, it never really mattered if they grew up without one. But there were days that they could not hide their excitement and longing when I told them stories about my dad, his lone brother who is still alive and who will return for a homecoming next year.They might have all grown up but the yearning could not be hidden especially with the knowledge that they still have a grand uncle that they would finally meet after all these years.

 At times I ask myself where all the excitement and yearning come from considering they were lucky to have grandmothers who took care and watched over them since they were kids. Perhaps it is the fact that one can never get enough of being loved, appreciated, affirmed, remembered and taken cared of. A feeling of home, belongingness, accepted and nurtured that one will always look forward at the end of the day. An unforgettable, unexplainable feeling that will always remind you of childhood and all the happy and good memories that went with it. An unending smile that lighten one’s face each and every time you think of them.

                                My Mom with my two sisters in law and some of her grandkids

You know what I think of people who have known at least one grandparent in their lives? I think of them as blessed. It takes a lot of undying courage and love to look after ones’ grandchildren despite the  unending battle with age, illness and empty nest challenges. At times grandparents chose to live longer because they know they are needed still, that some broken pieces of their lives needed to be fixed still and they knew that making it up with their grandkids is their ow special way to heal it.

This  Sunday, September 8th is National Grandparents Day. Take time to greet them or any grandparent for that matter. A simple act like offering a seat, showing them directions, assisting them while they take the stairs mean a lot to them. One can never go wrong in thanking and remembering grandparents even in simple ways because they are such a blessing.

Lucky are we who have felt such love from our grandparents.

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When You Were Born

You know what  all mothers say when they had their first born? They did not have any clue what to do. From breastfeeding, to bathing, to taking care of a wailing and sick babe so she can be put to sleep. I felt then that I would not survive in all departments, sometimes even wished that you shut up for a short while so I can get some sleep.

(Sam’s first photo,taken twenty years ago)

When you became a toddler, I asked myself not once what planet you came from. When I read you stories, you didn’t let me finish them because you wanted me to hear your version’s ending.You doodled almost every where.You loved watching tv so I was very selective on what shows you should watch. You also became very observant and careful with the words you say. My sister instantly noticed how you did not answer immediately if the question seemed testy.

Your Grandma told me you were very independent, not needing a lot of instructions and doting. In school she can leave you with her students with no fuss while she attended a short meeting.You took your studies seriously, effortlessly that you stood out in every class, in every competition. I remembered that time  when  you asked me what a gold medal looked like. I smiled. At a young age I knew you always aimed for the gold.

We did not always see  eye to eye. Perhaps it was just my age or the generation nowadays.You were completely aware of my rules, respected every one of them because not doing so would mean an argument that you will not win. I maybe hard to live by sometimes, but it was not also easy being your mother.

I also knew it was not easy being the eldest among six siblings, who look up to you for almost every thing. Patience, attention and understanding multiplied by six, not to mention three of them were special kids. I knew there were instances that you almost wanted to snap, with such responsibility that was given, yet  did not even ask. And perhaps you knew, that I was not blind enough to see, deaf enough  to hear, the pain and struggle that you went through every day.

(One of my best loved pictures with Samantha)

We have gone a long way. At a glance you seem like an ordinary girl, but by far a lady with so much character. If dysfunctional families were words you have shunned, unconventionalism  was one thing you had embraced. Books, classical movies, music, writing, photography, family, friendships and laughter all make up your world. As you journey through life, every adventure means conquering one’s fears. And you know by heart, that conquering ones’ fears means facing it.

Looking you from afar, sometimes I cannot help but smile and ask where you got that spark, that free spirit. Looking back now, out of the many wrong decisions I had made in my life, one right deed stood out, and that was having you.

(A daughter every mom would be proud of )

Seeing you know and what you had become was all worth it.

And I would not have it any other way.

 

 

(image credits to facebook.com)

Things That Make Me Happy ( A BC Bloggers Meme )

For some happiness, is a state of mind . It can be a place where you can just be yourself without a care in the world. Some people find it elusive while others still do not know what it is. Wether it is a fleeting fancy or an infectious thing, happiness is real. You cannot  find what you’re looking for unless you search for it.

Below are just some of  the things that make me happy :
1. Listening to my kids’ laughter.
2. Sharing stories with my mom and being grateful that she had chosen to move on in spite of all  the challenges she had been through.
3. Writing and getting comments from readers even from other parts of the world that they like what they read.
4. Music.
5. Remembering my dad and how he loved telling me stories on almost about everything.
6. Remembering my simple life as a kid with my family at our old nipa hut.
7. Watching my favorite shows.
8. Running and getting fit.
9. Meeting old friends  where you cannot get enough of the stories and laughter shared in between.
10. Learning new things until you become good at it.
11. Watching my awesome nephew make a name for himself in Philippine Basketball wether live at the hard court or on television.
12. Keeping in touch with my relatives by just a simple message on facebook.com.
13. Seeing my kids’ initiative to be independent including making simple decisions for themselves.
14. Getting a gift from my aunt who is also my godmother at the age of forty and seeing her usual greeting,”How are you  Sarah?”
15. Waiting and knowing that one day, I will be able to see most of my relatives in the US, most of whom I had not seen for a very long time including my one and only sister and her family.
16. Meeting and knowing there are  people who understand my kids’ specialness .
17. Getting a hug from a very good friend who I rarely see.
18. Having me rest to catch up on my sleeping only to wake up with my meal ready to eat.
19. Simple acts of kindness from strangers to friends.
20. Dreaming  that  financial security and emotional contentment will happen any day from now.
21. Eating fruits, veggies, ice cream and almost anything I find delicious with no guilt at all.
As one continue to look at the brighter side of life, happiness will always find its way to those who search for it. A door might closed on you one day only to learn that a window was already open waiting for you to get in. Life anyway consists of many chances and  it is  not really that hard to always count your blessings.
If you are one blogger who love to meet other people and joining memes, you can join BC Bloggers at http://www.mommydiary.net/join-bc-bloggers-here
It will definitely be worth the experience. 

BC Blogger Meme

Precious Moments With Mom

Just arrived from Manila to celebrate Mother’s day with my mom. I never had the chance to change clothes as I was so eager to share  my stories which she took in every word I said. In her hands were my gifts, a Maybelline pressed powder and an embroidered blouse which she liked the minute she saw it. In the bacground were my four daughters whom she helped me raised including the one behind the camera who is my eldest .

Rare moments that I will forever cherish because they are priceless.

 

 

 

(image credits to facebook.com)

The End Of A Homeless Journey

An old nipa hut renovated, a spacious house filled with kidslaughter and noise, a picture of  home  that now  comes  alive only  in my memory.

We never had our own home.The place where I was born and grew up belonged to my aunt, built from her soldier husband’s pension, killed in action during the Second World War. Since my dad acted like a father to her two kids, she had left her house to his care, a token of love and trust when she decided to build a life with her kids in Manila. No signing of papers. No attorney fees required. Just a  simple act of kindness so that my dad can have a place to  start  his own life.

The house had gone a lot of renovations but there were parts of it as well as pieces of furniture that had remained. It also had weathered a lot of storms and earthquakes, of rains and heat, yet it  had stood still, a sign of its strength and antiquity.

With the people that had lived before and to those who had gone, either to greener pastures or to the other life, the house symbolized more than an edifice. It reminded them of their childhood, of the things they used to do and now only remembered, of the simplicity and the tranquility of life, free of demands and stress. A place where  one wanted to come back over  and over again.

Through the years passersby will admire our house for its uniqueness and space, its wooden floors always inviting one to lie down and retire after a tired day, the sliding windows wide and safe enough to sit on its sills while enjoying a shared story. The dining table, long enough to hold a mini feast while  the adjoined window faced  what used to be a bamboo fence and a star apple tree that had to be chopped down so that a basketball court can be built.

(One of the very few photos left of our old home)

Space. Comfort. Inviting. These best describe the home I used to live.

It was a nook that was enveloped with sadness when my father spent his last days and where his remains would lie before he gets buried, not to the nearby chapel, telling my mom that he had a home to return to. An abode where we heard the sound of his first grandson’s wails a few months after he was laid to rest. And a place that was filled  with laughter, squeals, yells and songs when all us had our own families and get together during the Holiday Seasons, the loudest coming from my seven kids.

I thought it would never end.

But the heavens had  different plans, it seemed.

Our home was built in a place whose inner circle had venoms, jaded people who go way back. Rooted from several generations in the past, incurable even with countless prayers, church visits and novena intentions. I always thought that miracles do happen, even to the most hopeless situations.

I was wrong.

Small talk started even before I was born. Legally it was not rightfully ours. But of what use is the law when one can manipulate it for ulterior motives. When one’s self worth is defined by endless back stabbing, spinning tales enough to believe in and when generosity all too often is masked by getting something in return.

A week after the house had been newly painted and refurnished, we were told we had no reason to stay. My dad had long been gone but that was the less painful part though hearing it directly, literally from the horse’s mouth would confirm it. Sadly, this time it did not come from a horse, but from my dad’s blood relative. We had no choice but to leave.

Our neighbors who had become my parents friends’ were saddened about what they have learned and witnessed. Since our house was located in front of the chapel, nobody had missed that day when we had moved. They still cannot believe that a nipa hut which had been the only home  our family ever had would be the cause of envy and hurt. My mom  kept her emotions intact long enough, until we arrived at our new apartment. It was only then she let the tears and herself go, still finding it hard to accept that we were driven out from our own home.

A few months after we had moved, we were told our house had been torn down. Less than a year from then, three lives were lost and one of them was my brother. It was like watching a tear jerker movie  only this time it happened for real. It was hard to believe that what the house used to represent was now  turned into a tragedy, hurting not just one family , touching not just one’s soul to its very core.

Our lives may never be the same. An old friend once told me loosing ones’ home is like letting go of  one’s roots, the pain goes much deeper. And as I try to shield my children from it all, fate  chose  to do it differently. Though it would be impossible to find the same comfort  that our old home had given us, I know that I will not leave this life homeless. And in time my children and I will again find our lives secured, happy and content in a place we can  really call our own.

Laughter Prone Kids (And Everything in Between)

My mom often tells me that perhaps my kids and I should live in the mountains, free of neighbors except for Mother Nature who will always understand the noise my kids create everyday which she added “might be too much for the human ear to handle. ”

Every time  my mom says this, I feel like I am raising monkeys that have been trapped in the zoo for a long time and are dying to get back to the jungle. Sort of the Madagascar characters which my kids enjoy watching. Perhaps they can relate or perhaps they just simply laugh easily. Not that we do not talk about serious stuff like school, saving money and staying healthy. Nor do they get undisciplined each time they cross the line, does not do their assigned tasks or act too smart for their age. Like any ordinary family, my kids and I go through with the same struggles and triumphs. Being a single parent and having 7 minions to raise is tough work to the 7th power. One will easily lose her sanity by just thinking what meal needs to be prepared that will fit the budget and  look delectable still. Or by keeping yourself healthy while three of your kids have the flu, worst one of them is confined in the hospital. Or just by simply having the time to take a shower, comb your hair and grab a bite before you head for work. Crazy as it may sound but at times it would help if one remembers to breathe in between before  getting caught up again and overwhelmed by this daily routine.

Life itself is already crazy as it is. Stress can be easily displayed if you are burned out by a lot of things which can make you flare up by just a simple task not properly done. And the first people who takes the heat are the ones we care about. Sadly these are our families, our children, our friends. And since  kids live what they see, it would be helpful if we  can learn to channel this positively, though it may be hard at first. And learning how to laugh, even though for a short time really helps. Laughter is free, uncomplicated and never gets old. It  not just makes you look and feel young, sometimes it makes you think that this world is not as tough as it may seem.

So if you happen to hear some kids laughing like it seems there’s no more tomorrow, do not  hesitate to hear them out a second time. Perhaps you might even care to join in and eventually found out why.

Literal Mom

The Greatest Gift

I received a text message from a colleague the other night.  The text said that she woke up and found that her right hand  was shaking, uncontrollably and asked me why. Though I am not a doctor, by experience I knew how that felt. So I told her thru text that  it was about time to visit and listen to her doctor’s advise. “And please find the time to visit the spa and have a massage. You are stressed out. All of us are.” I added.

There was a time when I was working six days a week, taking advantage of every overtime, wether mandatory or not. I know that would mean my laundry would pile up and my kids would miss me more. I even asked my mom  during those few times I visited her if I am beginning to be materialistic or too ambitious for my own good. I felt like when people look me through my eyes, they would see the peso or dollar sign in them.

“No, ” you are not being materialistic nor too ambitious for that matter. You have been a stay at home mom for a while. Now that you had started to earn your own money and learned that you can provide, you want to earn more because you know that money would go to more important things. You are just trying to catch up. ”

That somehow lessen the guilt that started to gnaw inside me for not spending much time with my kids. They were still young then. And I know when the right time comes , I will make it up to them.

I just never thought that I will be on the receiving end when that happens.

My eldest daughter , Sam, had been very busy with her  thesis lately. She had been spending her evenings for almost a whole week at her classmates’ place because their defense will be by the end of the month. She literally became a stranger to all of us, just coming over to get some clothes  and to see her siblings. She suddenly became a daily visitor to her own  home. We only get to keep in touch through  text and through Facebook.com. I bought her a Frank Sinatra compact disk which was on sale, because she happened to love the standards. I also had planned on giving all of them a treat this weekend, only for me to learn she will not be able to make it. She did thank me for the gift, and she had relayed this through text.

I have to admit, that I miss those days when my kids and I would hang out and just simply talk about anything under the sun. Now that all of them had grown up and became very busy with school, it seems the only time I get to talk  to them and have a discussion is when they ask for some extra allowance to finish certain reports, attend a seminar or a field trip requirement. Sometimes there are even shouting matches and teary explanations in between. At times, I am almost to that point of giving up, because the last thing that I wanted was to end my day on a negative note with my kids. Such negative reactions stay in one owns psyche the whole day, worst, even affects one’s sleep until it is time to go to work, only to realize it has not left you. And one tries his  best to shake it off or else, one will be all over the place.

It is very easy for us to loose ourselves, in our  relationships, in our business, in our work. We feel that we always have this ample supply of energy to give, not knowing that we are slowly depleting bit by bit. There are signs but we chose to ignore them if that would mean more money to pay for one’s bills, for your kids’ education and perhaps a long overdue vacation. And sadly, when we do find the time to reward ourselves, that energy almost left us that we just rather hit the sack and  catch up on sleeping instead.

I had been guilty on all these. The text I received the other night was followed by a similar one. Both came from hardworking  people who do not have kids yet but rarely have time for themselves. Not that they do not know their real worth, but  had too often forgotten to treat themselves. It was a light bulb moment that made me think of how I have been treating myself lately, of certain days how I would push myself to go to work because that was expected of me. Of dreading the weekend to come so I could at least sleep regularly and spend some time with myself.

In a way, we should always think of ourselves as gifts, that should be taken cared of and treasured,  wrapped or unwrapped. Our self proclaimed financial independence or our longing  to be with someone who is, may mask who we truly are, but it would help from time to time to remember to treat ourselves, kindly. It is the only way we could give back, without forgetting who we are.

Below is a video of one of my favorite songs. I just want to share it with you and hope you find time to ponder on it.

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And I hope you like it too.

(The song “The Greatest Gift ” was composed by the Academy Award Winner Henry Mancini whose compositions include, “Moon River, ” ” Two for the Road ” and “The Days of Wine and Roses.” He also composed the theme song for the movies “Rocky, ” and “The Pink Panther.” Credits also go to youtube.com for the video.)