“What was the strangest thing you found cleaning out your parents’ house after they died?” (post-)#AskWednesday

Until I read Debbie The Doglady’s post, I could have forgotten this. I had planned on posting this sometime ago but never had the right time or chance to do so. I did think of sharing it for Valentine’s, but I also felt it would have been kind of a sad reminder for some who are still grieving for our parents, so I didn’t.

I was doing some legit research one day, I don’t remember what about, but as most researches went, I stumbled on something else. I found this question posted on Quora:

“What was the strangest thing you found cleaning out your parents’ house after they died?”

My parents on New Year's Eve 2011

My parents on New Year’s Eve 2011

I could have answered, but I wasn’t planning on joining Quora. Also, I didn’t think I had any answer to that. I still don’t.

My father had a mild stroke when I was 20 and since then, he was unable to go to work, work being a teacher in elementary Math, Physical Education, and Gardening & Shop (I have no idea what those subjects were called then exactly and I think they have new names now). So maybe, whatever secrets he could have hidden, if there were any at all, my mother had long ago gotten rid of them. I know of one I found when I was young, but that doesn’t count because he was still so alive back then. So when he died in May 2012, I didn’t find any strange thing that belonged to him.

Meanwhile, my mother, who was a Geometry and Trigonometry teacher, had nothing physical to hide either, not to my knowledge, nothing strange that I found, at least. There were several secrets about her personal experiences that I found out after she died in July 2012, some things she did not tell me because she knew I would get mad that she let people do that to her, but they were nothing near strange.

I think the reason that I still haven’t found anything “strange”, surprising or shocking is because I have lived in our family’s house all my life (well, except when I was/am gone the whole week working). Non-Filipinos may go, “What???” and think “Adult and still living in her parent’s house?” Let me tell you now that Filipinos are family-oriented and living with one’s parents doesn’t necessarily make him/her dependent and useless. It is common in our culture, especially the extended family culture…

My parents were teachers and most things that I find that belonged to them are clothes, personal effects that I mostly knew anyway, various school-related stuff like books for lesson plans, IDs, lovely notes from students (especially for my mother, whose hoarding tendencies I happen to have inherited). I’m just thinking maybe I’m better off not knowing anything in case it happens to be something I’ll regret finding out.

Now that I have answered the question, I am sharing to you some of the worthy answers I found on Quora. I’d rather share the nice ones because I’d rather that we remember our parents fondly. Click on them to get to the actual pages if you want to.

quora1Click on the image so you get to be redirected to the link he gave and see what he’s talking about.

quora3This is something that I would have liked to have found. I wish I could learn more about my parents, their experiences, their thoughts, their worries, their dreams…This only emphasizes how important it is to not wait and get to know your parents more while they’re still alive, because time will come that they won’t be able to tell you anything anymore. Except for their lesson plans, my parents did not seem to have inclinations towards creative writing, which is most probably why there are no journals for me to visit in the first place.

quora4Again, one of the things I regret is emphasized here. I regret to not having video-recorded my parents (I tried, but my low-tech phone wasn’t much help,…I could have found a way and borrowed, but didn’t. Sadly.). I did not even record their voices! Now all my sister and I have of them are like the Jim Croce song: ‘Photographs and Memories’. It would have been better to see and hear them alive and talking and laughing once in a while when we’re missing them…

quora5Finding such bills would have been awesome, I gotta admit 🙂 Anyway, my father had quite a sense of humor, too, which I would not have known had he not gotten sick. It seemed he went back to his former and younger self and in the next years of his life, I got to know more of how he was as a younger man. I’m sure he was like that to his friends before the mild stroke, but at home, he was stricter. So the “change” was somehow drastic.

quora2Alright, I couldn’t help it. This one’s kind of sad in the end. Still, the mother thought of buying gifts for her children…

quora6

Make sure you click on this to see the whole of it…This reminds me of my parents, especially my mother whom her students adored. I found similar letters and cards given to her, but I really was not surprised. I had known since I was little that she was getting such expressions of appreciation from her beloved students.

 

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I hope you liked what I shared.  How about you, “What was the strangest thing you found cleaning out your parents’ house after they died?” Again, the comments section is for your perusal 🙂

**NOTE: I thought I’d add this since I mentioned the song. It has always made me sad even before losing my parents, but now it means so much more to me. I actually just teared up having listened to it. It’s a lover’s love song, but it can very well be a song for a loved one who has gone on before you.

No Other Love #MondayMemoirs

#MondayMemoirs…

The whole weekend, even the week before, I kept thinking what best to share. I could not decide, and the WiFi was acting up, and there were lots of drama with the kids. Sunday went by without me posting anything.

This Monday is especially relevant to me — it’s my mother’s birthday. Yesterday, as I was to go back to our house, a beautiful butterfly flew around me. Here, many believe that departed loved ones make their presence known by presenting themselves as butterflies. People, especially non-Filipinos, will think it’s just coincidence I saw that butterfly. I would like to believe no. This sort of thing has been happening on the right occasions. I told her aloud, “No, I didn’t forget you.”

In the evening, I lit a candle. Normally, it would be gone after almost an hour. More than an hour passed, I incidentally turned to where the altar was and the candle was still burning, hardly got shorter. Almost two hours, almost three hours…I finally forgot to check, then I remembered and saw it was almost gone.

I’d like to think it was her letting me know she’s there still loving me, supporting me…

I never forget. And so I’m going back to this post to pay tribute to my beloved mother…

Mahal kita, Mame.

The End Justifies the Journey

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…

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For that one more conversation…

“Have you ever lost someone you love and wanted one more conversation,

one more chance to make up for the time when you thought they would be here forever?

If so, then you know you can go your whole life collecting days,

and none will outweigh the one you wish you had back.”

(Mitch Albom, For One More Day)

Last night, I dreamt of my parents. It was short but sweet.

After talking to my sister who was handwashing clothes outside, I was heading towards our house and there they were, my mother and my father standing at the terrace, waving at me, smiling happily. They told me to never worry about them because they are already happy where they are. I don’t know why I didn’t run to them. Instead, I ran back to my sister and excitedly told her what happened, asking, “Did you see? Did you see them?!!” She was smiling for she saw them as well, then she pointed at another direction. They told her something that I don’t remember now. I actually don’t remember anything from the dream anymore after that. But I am happy. I remember feeling happy, and I woke up happy.

It’s been a while since I saw them together in my dreams again. The first times, I was reprimanding my father for touching the cake on the table after my mother told him not to (I wanted him to stop so she wouldn’t get mad, but he didn’t so she did get mad). The next times, I saw them separately, but sometimes, I felt like just a viewer watching TV.  Most times, they didn’t say anything or smile, which always bothered me in my waking hours. Twice, I dreamt of my mother and what did I do? I reprimanded her, then woke up guilty, and worse, sorry for not spending those precious times well with her instead. I was particularly bothered by this.

Mitch Albom said it exactly. We can’t turn back the time, we can’t go back to those days when our dearly departed were still with us. “Have you ever lost someone you love and wanted one more conversation, one more chance to make up for the time when you thought they would be here forever?” That is exactly what I feel. That is why I was very glad for that dream last night, especially since it’s my mother’s birthday this Saturday. Most especially, because they smiled, at last.

I know that you already know the wise advice that while the people special to us are still here, we should be able to show them how much they mean to us. My advice is to not forget it and to stick to it. Life is really short. Let us not go through our lives wishing for days that are forever lost…

No Other Love

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