It’s the first time our house had this much number of people for a semi-long period of time. We’ve had sleepovers and birthday parties that would usually end in a day or two. With more people at home, the usual merry noise doubled with Axle excitingly chattering and recounting his tales of kindergarten escapades with his Tito Joma. Aqui and Ia entertain their grandmas with their ‘opinions’ on everything. I get to converse in woman-talk at home, something I can only do during household sessions with sister-friends. More than anything else, having Nanay, Tita Baby and Joma made Ronnel happier and more at peace. Maybe he has come to terms that Tatay is really gone. I know it’s nearly a year now but it’s easy to not think about losing a loved one especially if you’re not with them all the time. With Nanay here without Tatay, it is sinking in. When I lost Mama, it took me a long time to realise that she’s really gone. Even now, sometimes my mind tricks me and I still think that she is still just in LA with my sister. Coincidentally, Len is also in the Philippines to spend some bonding time with my side of the family.
The month flew so fast. It feels like they just arrived a day or two ago but now they’ve left again. For the past month, our home was filled with stories and louder laughter. I must say, I haven’t heard myself scream so much at the kids these days. It’s probably because they’re well looked after, 1 on 1, by the grandmas and even Axle has his own personal playmate with his Tito Joma. The kids are preoccupied and when it’s downtime (a.k.a time to watch TV, play Roblox or just chill on the sofa), there’s a shared comfortable silence amongst us. Now that my in-laws have gone back to the Philippines, I wonder if I am going to revert to the stressed momster that I was. For the past month, I didn’t have to stress about what to cook, doing the washing or whether I’d step on Lego at home. Even the kids usual household chore book is empty for the month as they too had not much to do. We were pampered. We would come home with food on the table, clothes all folded up and our usual messy home sparkly clean. We went out together to show the beauty of NZ or just enjoy good food. My driving skills were pushed as we didn’t fit a single car. We got to hear stories of Ronnel’s childhood and stories of family adventures and challenges back home. We cherished every little moment spent with each other.
|Our boys at the Petone Fair|
I became to appreciate and honour how strong of a woman my mother-in-law is. She reared three God-fearing, confident, able — not to mention, good-looking sons. Not an easy feat. Now that Tatay is in a better place, her true strength even shines brighter. She laughs her heart out and cries as hard. She is a fierce protector of her sons and loves her grandchildren dearly. Her faith in God is what keeps her strong. We hear her cries in quiet moments. It maybe nearly a year but it must still feel like yesterday. The night before their departure, Nanay sat beside me and we had a good talk. I no longer had a mother and she stands on her stead. She is now my living role model. She stays strong not just for her children, her family, but also herself. There is so much more in store for her. I shared with her a post I saw on my feed about Pappa Rich’s owner — "At an age when most would consider just kicking back, Carol Wong started the restaurant at the ripe age of 73.” Life doesn’t end when we lose something, it just means that our hands are now empty and ready to be filled by something else. Easy to say but hard to do. If it was easy, then it wouldn’t be a challenge. I’m cheering you on, Nanay. You can do it!
As they travel back to the Philippines, we re-adjust our pace here. We’re back to our standard operating model. Our backyard is still in progress and although, it was my fault for causing this unexpected expense…. Did I share the story about my non-commonsensical moment when I caused a fire on our backyard on Christmas day? Axle was overjoyed seeing we've invited four fireman and a big firetruck — and maybe expected Santa Claus inside too. But I digress. I still think that it happened for a reason. Without that fire, we would never even have acted on our long plan to re-model our backyard. It is just sad that it didn’t finish on time for all of us to enjoy while they were here.
I asked the children if they were sad because their Lolas and Tito Joma left. Ia answered, “I’m not sad. I know I will see them on December anyway. I will miss them but I am not sad because you are here.” Missing someone doesn’t mean you are sad. I prodded further at Ia’s response — “What is the difference between sad and missing?” She replied, “Sad is crying and stomping around, not listening to mummy and daddy. Missing is wanting them to come back so I can give them a big hug.” (She typed this on her own by the way so it toooook ages.) She also said Sad is a banned word at home so she can’t be sad. Yup, we don’t say ‘sad’ at home because in Filipino, it is a calling the name of that long-haired scary lady crawling out of the TV-- “SadAko”. I love how insightful children can be in their own innocent way. May this be a lesson to us when sadness starts knocking at the door. We can acknowledge the emptiness but it is not an excuse to stomp and mope around and not listen to the people around us.
Till we see each other again! I end this post with the video of Ronnel's 40th birthday surprise celebration organised by loved ones and friends from CFC.