There was nothing to do at work last night. In my account, there were only 5 people (I’m the 5th) working and there was nothing for me to audit. I ended up reading the newspapers online (which I do ever day anyway). I got sidelined by one article which provided a link to Peace Corps volunteer Julia Campbell’s (God bless her soul!) blog and that got me reading for the next half hour. Very heartbreaking. I don’t know what she did to deserve such a violent death. I really hope it wasn’t murder, although from all angles it does look like it is one. Tragic and sad. The thought that she had only 7-8 months left before she goes back home to Hawaii just takes that cake. I hope they resolve the case as soon as possible.
Another thing that got me teary eyed was the death of Paolo de Castro, the pilot of the ill-fated Cessna which crashed into Merville the other day. The news say that all the air control tower people could do was to watch – in horror, naturally - the plane nose dive into the subdivision. What makes this crash different was the 30ish pilot made sure he didn’t hit any of the houses (he just nipped the top of a tree) and even avoided the pens of roosters in a nearby empty lot. What presence of mind! But why did he have to die?
Death has a way of making its presence felt lately. I am looking at my beloved yaya’s face last night and I can sense that I will lose her very soon. She is terribly fat and has difficulty breathing. I am always in fear that I’d just go home one day and find her dead in her bed or have fallen down the stairs (she has slipped many times before and hit her head – or so she claims). I am so filled with dread. If I lose her, I will have lost everything by then. All my past will have been erased. What will I do without her?
It was terrible watching her in grief when Mom died in her room. What made her feel bad was that Mom went before she did. My yaya used to sell empty bottles and old newspapers when we were still in Davao. Mom couldn’t make ends meet despite her being a School Head Mistress and doing a sideline coaching students in Chinese after school. My yaya has been with the family since she was 18 years old, never married (at least not that I know of). She was hired during the good ol’ days when Lolo was still alive and there was a lot to go around. Well, that was when the university was doing well. After Lolo’s death and a protracted legal battle in court which claimed the life of an uncle (my Mom’s older brother, the mathematician who was known to do formulas on tissue paper while in the toiler), we were left with nothing but what we had on our backs plus a painting and a huge Buddha statue.
Yaya was with us when we went home to Lola in Pampanga. The homecoming was nothing of the happy sort because we went home to see her get buried. You can say that Death has a way with things. He is trying to be amusing when he isn’t.
Yaya left us to work for another Chinese family (the one that produced that famous Shoktong (?) wine) and she would visit me every Sunday to bring me toys and watch a movie in San Fernando (I saw Return of the Jedi with her). She came back to us only in 2005 when she couldn’t already endure the suffering she had with a Filipino family in Mexico, Pampanga. She was denied food and her salary yet she had to work like any other house help.
She was teary-eyed and hugged me when we said yes, we’d take her back. She was family after all. The day she went home to us in Las Piñas must have been the happiest day of her life. I looked at the cab’s mirror to see her lying back comfortably on the backseat enjoying the trip. My, she’s grown so old, too. Much beyond her years, I’m afraid. There’s something about hard, menial work that takes away so many years from one’s face. To think she and Mom are only of the same age.
Many times, she would tell me during lunch that she’d never have the food we have at home if she was still staying with that family in Mexico. “They’d hide food from me”, she said. “If your Aunt would give me bags of groceries and they’d accost me and ask me what I have in those bags, I’d say that I went out to do my groceries. Inggit sila sa akin!” I would rub her broad back and mess up her hair and gently remind her to slow down because she’s growing fatter by the day. She’s so crazy over ripe mangoes. Mom would scold her a lot before because she’d end up coughing when she eats mangoes. Anyway, who am I to deny her her simple pleasures?
My only wish now is that she could see her siblings before it’s too late (“Gusto ko lang sila makita pero ‘di ako sasama sa kanila. Uuwi pa rin ako sa iyo.”). Honestly, I am at a loss as to how to go about this. It’s a toss between Leyte and Davao and I wouldn’t have any idea where to start. I am tempted to write GMA7 for this (Mom thumbed down the idea when she was alive because our family history might be ‘maungkat’. Oh, you know how these networks are. The things they do to make people cry on their show. Tears = better ratings.) One of these days, I just might. I have tons of things on my to-do list right now and as of this writing, to tell you honestly, my father hasn’t been informed of Mom’s death. How cool is that?!
Anyway, many times I have found myself whispering to my Yaya not to leave me. She said she never would and she’d lean on me. The image of a fat Yaya-Alaga duo surely ain’t a pretty sight but we’ve had a long history together.
I really hope she can stay forever. I love her so much.
Happy birthday, Nana Noning!