May is Mother’s month for my family. Mom was born on May 8, 1948, baptized sometime in May, got married on May 30, died on May 4, and buried on May 8, 2007. My grandma once told me, that it takes a special person to be buried on the day she was born. Indeed, Mom Perla was special.
After Mom died, my sister and I agreed we would celebrate her life on the day of her birth, which usually happened around Mothers’ Day. We’d find ways to celebrate it despite our living miles away from each other. This year I found one of her old letters. Quite precious and confidential, except for this part:
Feb. 14, 1996
To my two lovely dahling daughters Mutya and Bi,
Verde Island is on my right as I write this letter to you. I thank God everyday esp. this day as I cross the bay, for giving me 2 lovely, intelligent, smart & gifted daughters. It’s a very nice & lovely feeling to be a mother who is very proud of her children — all gifted in his and her own way. Indeed, we can’t thank God enough for giving us so many wonderful things together esp. our being one family — loving each other, respecting each other — (I hope). As you grow and mature you will know what I mean. It is the love of God and of Christ that should be in you and it will show in the way you treat each other.
She often told me about her daily prayer: she hoped that all her children would become part of the Kingdom of God. “Thy Kingdom come, in our lives and in our hearts,” I heard her pray several times. She prayed that as we grew older, we would choose to walk according to His Way, Truth and Life, and encourage others to do so.
Mom would often bring me along whenever she took my baby brother Ysrael (then 4 or 5 years old) to the Children’s Hospital. “Matapang ka kasi (You’re brave),” she would tell me. She couldn’t stand the sight of her baby being punctured by needles for blood tests, so she would ask me to hold Ysrael’s hand as the medtech would draw blood, and then she would look away. Ysrael and I would look at each other, and then watch the blood coming out from his arm… he never complained, and I would always call him “our brave boy.” During those trips she would often share with me her greatest wish: “I want to see all of you there, in the Kingdom of God. I want us all to be together in His presence someday, for eternity.”
Ysrael died of a mysterious bone illness when he was seven, and as I witnessed how Mom’s faith helped her through that ordeal, I became inspired to know more about God and seek Him as my Savior too. There are so many anecdotes of how God answered Mom’s prayers, and I will share about them when I am able to.
For now I am inclined to share one of the first #LifeLessons she taught me: Counting from 1 to 10. As a child, I would often have chest pains whenever I was physically tired, or frustrated and emotional. (It wasn’t until I was 20 that I found out I had CHD). Mom taught me how to handle the stress by counting up to 10 and down again, until my emotions calmed down and pain subsided. It was hard to do at first, because I was a kid and panic attacks hurt, but she helped me count aloud, or if we were in a public place, she would tell me, “Count in your head. Breathe.” This probably saved my life more times than I can remember, so I teach the same to my kids. I am just thankful to God that my children are healthy, and wiser than I was at their age, too.
I remember when Ysrael and I were watching a documentary about elephants in the Kalahari. We watched in horror as a baby elephant was attacked by crocodiles… the mother elephant came to the rescue and was able to to fend off the predators, but was wounded in the process. Ysrael and I felt so bad for the “mommy elephant” so much that he asked, “Mommy, are mommies really like that? They will charge against crocodiles just to save their baby?”
“Of course!” was my Mom’s quick reply. “Mommies would give their lives for their babies because we love them.”