"I'm at the airport now, pick me up here."
I replied, "I'm sorry, your number is not on my phone book, may I know who this is?"
I was literally floored by the reply. Leave it to my Mom to give me a good surprise- she was on a two week leave at work and she decided to go home without our knowledge. Nonetheless, I was happy to see her at the airport that strangely sunny day in December.
I know the fare from Louisiana all the way to Tacloban wasn't cheap, so she must have had a very good reason for going home unexpectedly like this. Either I forgot the reason, or all I could remember was that she must have missed us very much, traveling thousands of miles just to see us.
I got my Mom's imprudent spending habits and this sentimental (sometimes to the point of being ridiculous) regard for family. You should hear us when we used to talk over the phone- more like a couple of friends than mother and son. One indicator of the bond between two people is the flow of conversation- and boy we could talk about anything and everything- from interior design tips to resorts, recipes to relatives, career paths and relationships...
Her mom, known to us all as Nanay, 83 years old and still kicking, considered Mama her favorite. Nanay was so heartbroken of Mama's passing that only months after, she collapsed from severe hypertension and was confined for two weeks at the hospital. I thought we were going to lose her too. She dreamed of Mama constantly, and we tried to comfort her- what pain must it have been for a mother to bury her daughter.
While I was looking at Mama's old photos I couldn't help but get a little misty. Her black and white photos from the sixties as a child till those college photos in the seventies showed a curly haired girl with a big grin slowly transform into a woman. She was thin (and with a pregnant belly- carrying the six month old Thadie) when she got married, and slowly gained weight as she got older and had four more pregnancies. I've seen her short haired, long haired, with make-up, no make-up, with people, and alone- smiling, frozen and forever smiling in those photographs.
Her laugh captured while she was slicing the two-tiered cake with Papa tells me she must have been so happy at that time. More memories come flooding of happy times with my Mom.
Even if we have hardships nowadays I never lose hope. Mama taught us family was always worth fighting for- and if I falter a bit now and then, I just look at the image of this smiling woman who loved us very, very much.