September 18 was supposedly my mother’s birthday. Well, according to the National Statistics Office (NSO), that is, which we found erroneous because how could she teach for more than 30 years, how could she start at all, if she claimed to being born on July 18 and her birth certificate then said otherwise (of course it said July 18!)? And she just found out after retirement?…One of those government glitches, for sure. In fact, they gave her another name that I teased her with every time it was July or September 18. “Hey, Teresa, isn’t it your birthday?” She was never a Teresa.
She was a Luningning, meaning brilliance. She was brilliant. Longing to prove herself, she persevered in school and got rewarded with high grades. Finding herself struggling with Math, she faced the challenge and proved her mettle, ironically thrusting herself later in the field of Math education. It was a feat neither my sister nor I could ever emulate when Geometry and Trigonometry seemed all too-Greek to us, and they still do.
Not only was she brilliant academics-wise, but she was a radiant light put on this earth. If only I knew much earlier how much light she had shared to those who needed it. You never really know how much impact you have on others and, sadly, those you’ve shown your brightest become too blind to appreciate it while it is there. I am sorry I was not able to show my appreciation until it was too late.
Before she passed away, that was when I realized just how much impact she made on others, and how much impact a teacher could/can have on her students if she only did/does her work with a sincere heart and dedication. How I got the much-needed financial help for her medical and hospital expenses in her last two to three months is another story worth another post. But I can tell you it was an outpouring of love, even though she was not anymore aware of the things around her.
Having taught for more than 30 years, my mother built many friendships with fellow staff and teachers, and especially with her students. I threw away pride and sent messages to a few of her old friends, asking for financial help, and that led to communicating with more of them. To make the long story short, their contributions, as said, paid for medical bills and, eventually, for the funeral expenses. In fact, I was even able to pay for the balance we still owed another funeral home, the one we got when my father passed away two months prior.
You should have seen her wake. Visitors kept pouring in to give their last respect and my heart swelled with pride, hearing many of them speak of her fondly, about how she inspired them or helped them or even changed their lives in some way. She was a favorite. When the day of the funeral came, some called it a “blockbuster” for it was one of those where many people attended.
Because I am starting to tear up, let me stop here and share my parents’ theme song, No Other Love. I never knew this song until I asked her sisters. I was glad I had the chance to sing it with her and make her happy even for a little while.
Mame, please wait for me, I promise to sing this with you and Dade when we meet again.
MAME, PARA SA IYO. MAHAL KITA. ALAM KO ALAM MO NA NGAYON