One balmy January day in Phuket

Our Phuket Wedding

The first seeds of Mariel’s Garden were planted at Promthep Cape in Phuket, Thailand. On a hilltop facing the sunset and the clear blue Andaman Sea, Mariel and I got married some 10 years ago. It was in a garden too beneath a tree on a balmy January afternoon, that we said our vows to a small party of six people, and a thousand blooming flowers on the hill. Mariel looked radiant, as usual, in a purple ( her fave color) Thai princess gown, while I wore a gray suit and a white tie. We had a relaxed but very memorable Roman Catholic wedding ceremony. We heard Holy Mass at a nearby church, then exchanged vows witnessed by my buddies, Kiko as the best man and Albert, as designated driver and photographer. Both Kiko and Albert also were the wedding’s logistic planners. We rode in a teeny- weeny Caribian and Mariel never once commented about the inconvenience nor my “frugality” with the arrangements as we were stacked four- wide.

That’s how much Mariel loved me. She took me for what I was and made me a better person without ever nagging me about it. She leads in the best way possible, by example. After the wedding and raiding the hawker’s stalls in Bangkok, we went home and invited our family and close friends to a reception at Sukhothai Restaurant in Manila, where we showed our wedding home video midst giggles and tears of joy. We had the time of our lives, light and carefree as rainy showers on a December morning. It was almost as memorable as the first time we met at Gourmet’s Cafe, but I will reserve that for another time.

Mariel was the most “prim and proper” person you will ever meet but she took chances on new things. She would just dive into new hobbies like crochet, flower arrangement, paper tole and excel at it. She had the knack for learning something new, then quickly becoming an “expert” in a heartbeat. She was so thorough, very intelligent and did not mind putting in long hours on things she loved or found important.

Of course, she took her biggest chance on me. ( My friends ribbed me then that she should be given a helmet lest she knocks her head and wakes up ) For Mariel gave everything of herself to me and our daughter Sam. She would make daily trips to the mall to buy Sam another dress or book, and for me my beloved DVDs. She seldom bought things for herself anymore since we got married. She constantly looked after us as she found her happiness in making us both happy. Mariel did this in subtle ways. Assuredly but gentle as always. In fact, I never appreciated how much she had taken care of us, till now that she’s gone. She was the best thing that had ever happenned to me and I miss her so badly.

I can only promise her though that I will always take care of Sam and her “garden”. Mariel’s Garden grows here and in heaven. And I can’t wait to be with her, when she gathers some fresh blooms for our new “home” over there. I love you “Mommy”.

2 thoughts on “One balmy January day in Phuket

  1. writinggb

    I’m so sorry for your loss. Writing and sharing your memories doesn’t necesarily ease the pain, but it helps others who are also grieving the loss of their loved ones.

  2. joydavy

    Mariel and I were the closest among our sisters, probably because we grew up together, although I didn’t really stay with the family until I was in my last year of high school. I was living with our grandmother since I was young and for a time, Mariel lived with her too. When she was starting university, I was in my last year. I can still remember her writing concerned letters to me, tucked in my dorm cabinet, as she was worried by the fact that I was always going out and coming home late. It irritated me then because I felt that she was intruding on my personal life. As we got older, I realized that she’s just that kind of sister, always watching out for me,making sure that I didn’t stray too far. She told me once that she really believed in me and that she wished she could do things as easily as I could do them. Through the years, we managed to be closer, going through boyfriends together and learning from our mistakes. We shared an apartment with our sister Chinkie for many years until I got a job in the refugee camp in Morong, where I met Charles, my husband. Even when I moved away from the Philippines to leave overseas, we kept in touch. In fact, she’d call me sometimes just to fill me in the latest “happenings” in the Francia family. Whenever we visited the Philippines, we would always stay with her, my kids love her and Charles was already a friend even before we got married. Charles often mistook Mariel for me because he said we looked alike, even our voices sound the same. Mariel was such a generous, caring person that it’s still hard to believe that she’s gone. She was my best friend and when I think of her, I feel such an emptiness inside. I’m sure she’s happy whereever she may be right now but I just wished we had more time together. Although she’s gone, I think she continues to live through Sam, who is her spitting image, I was pleasantly surprised after almost 3 years of not seeing her, on how much she looks like Mariel now. I hope, Bong, that you may have the strength to carry on through these difficult time in yours and Sam’s lives. Mariel really loved you both and I’m sure she will constantly watch over you wherever she may be.

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