Back To The Garden

They say that it’s time to go home when you start to look like your passport photo. I think I might have actually outdone myself. For the past three weeks have not only taken me away from my beloved “garden” but had literally robbed me of all energy to write even a couple of lines. Singapore moves at such a frenetic pace that it allows almost no room for introspection. The city is totally about commerce and completing that ever-present “to-do” list. I’m sure Mariel would have fared better because she was always organized and was unfazed with those corporate skirmishes. I however feel that I may be getting a bit too old for these “games”. And as some would say, “I’d rather go fishing”.

Being away however has made me again review my priorities. Why do I even have to sit staring at my computer in another nameless hotel room toiling on that to-do list. And more than ever, I had come to realize that it is simply all about my Sam. She is after all Mariel’s “life’s work” that I must today dutifully continue. She is all the best things her mother was. She is my life and my only hope. And I now must make sure she gets the best chance at life.

So while I’d really prefer to be somewhere else “fishing”, part of it now is just invariably working on that “list” and of course being away sometimes for Sam. At least I’m sure Mariel is never really far behind.

Good night, Mommy. I’m home.

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Make Mommy Proud

I tell Sam to always try to make her Mommy proud with whatever she does. Whether its singing on stage for her musical theater passion or doing school work, I encourage her to simply try to be the best she can be. For that was all that Mommy had wanted for her. That she develops her “gifts” and to have a simple and happy life.

Yesterday, I was asked by her school to be present at Recognition Day because Sam was going to receive a medal for academic excellence. I’m sure Mariel would have been so proud and happy for her “cocotata”. Mariel had the chance to join Sam last year for the same thing even when she was not feeling well already. And I can only take my hat’s off to her for having prepared her daughter well for life. Sam is the all the best things that Mariel was. I’m sure Sam will do well always in everything she puts her heart into. Because she is always striving to make her mom proud.

Sammy, always love and honor your Mommy and remember that she is never more than a heartbeat away.

Sam’s Birthday Highlights

Sam woke up to her “lola’s” (grandma’s) ardent calls to get ready for the small get-together we’ve prepared for her 10th birthday at the at the Lexington Garden Village Clubhouse. In attendance were close friends from the subdivision community and of course, Sam’s newfound playmates. The kids see the pool party as their perfect end to a long, hot summer break as school’s back next week.

Coming all the way from Tarlac City too were Mariel’s sisters, Margie, Gertie and Chinkie, and her nephews and nieces who had wanted to be with Sam on this special day. It was like the good old days again. We missed Mariel but I’ve made sure it was one birthday celebration that would’ve met her stamp of approval. I just have to carry on where she had left off because I know our daughter Sam meant the world to her and that keeping her legacy alive will be another way of pleasing her. And I can only do no less.

We love you Mommy. Sam’s really growing up to be every bit like the fine lady that you were.

It’s Sam’s Birthday!

It”s Sam’s birthday tomorrow, June 9. It’s also the first one that Mommy wont be with us to celebrate on this very important event for us. Well, I would like to correct myself. I know Mariel will be with us still, but only in ways that we’ve not had before.

For her birthdays, usually it was some creatively- staged children’s theme party that Mariel had tirelessly organized each year (see my most recent post). But the last one was different. As Mariel had suggested that for once we should try to spend it with only the three of us. At the drop of a hat, she had set up a short trip to Singapore for a family outing which had included a fun day at Sentosa resort . We were so tickled with the “scary” cable car ride then and had a nice time too at the entertaining pyro and laser show. I can even recall that it was raining hard when we arrived but simply nothing could have stopped Mariel from booking that one essential “package tour”. And I never saw it coming. For in about a month after we’ve returned from that vacation, Mariel will so suddenly fall ill.

I also remember her to be so unusually insistent that we made this Singapore jaunt. And that she had wanted Sam to fully enjoy her unique birthday treat. Although we’ve made other trips before, this one had, on hindsight, a burning sense of urgency for Mariel. She had even “orchestrated’ a mini-reunion at the Changi Airport with her brother Gerry and sister Joy who was merely passing through Singapore on a connecting flight to South Africa with her family at that time. It was another unusual but very memorable experience. Imagine meeting at the Airport visitor’s lounge at 1230 midnight for some much- needed bonding and coffee (only hours after we just arrived from Manila ourselves). But then maybe Mariel was really just “unconsciously” trying to squeeze in as much time with us as she can muster with an apparently slowly closing agenda. I will never really know for certain. But I am just really glad that she did it it again with her ever- efficient signature style. And that after all, she was just being herself and as predictably she was just again doing the “right things”.

If she was with us today, Mariel would have already arranged all the finer details of Sam’s little party tomorrow. She would have sent out the invites much earlier, planned the menu and ordered the cake and cute “loot bags”. Of course now, I have my mom and sister Alma who had so generously pitched in because they know I’m really poor at these things. But I also still miss Mariel’s presence because only she can provide that anticipated “order” in our lives.

But we’re not having anything “grand” for tomorrow though. Just your basic poolside get-together for some BBQ and games. And by the way, Sam wouldn’t have anymore of the standard kiddie stuff of yore as she is currently into NBB, Jonas Brothers and Miley Cyrus these days. She even requests a bit of some “rock star” accents to enliven the party if possible. Of course, I’d approve. Because I’m sure Mariel would’ve. And it’s such a tiny gesture to make. And assure Sam that nothing has intrinsically changed with her “connectedness” to her mom. For Mommy just can’t be with us “physically” on the big day. But still all the emotional and spiritual bonds remain strong. For the love Mariel has shared with us persists and endures through eternity.

To “Samanting”, Happy Birthday from Mommy, she loves you so very, very much.

This One’s For Mommy (Sam sings “Namaste”)

Sam indeed made her mommy happy again tonight after performing as guest singer/soloist at the Assumption METTA’s production of “Romeo and Juliet” (Summer Shakespeare Workshop). We were pleasantly surprised to have received a call from her school last week. They had asked if she could be allowed to sing “Namaste”, an original composition by Ms. Pinky Valdes for the Shakespearean adaptation. Of course we said yes, because we believe every opportunity for Sam to perform is truly an opportunity given her to improve her craft.

Mariel had always been very supportive of Sam’s theater interests. She had encouraged our daughter to develop her many “gifts” as she had looked forward to seeing her perform on stage. She would have been beaming with pride tonight and would have been doubly exhilarated with seeing “Sammy” transform from the bashful little four-year old girl we had enrolled into theater class to try to overcome her shyness to the confident and admired thespian she is today.

I must admit too that it was not easy sitting through the play tonight. I’m no Romeo, but Shakespeare’s words of love found and lost have unexpectedly struck some raw nerves that had sent me reeling back into painful territory.

“O my love, my wife! Death, that hath suck’d the honey of thy breath. Hath had no power yet upon thy beauty… Good Night, Good night! Parting is such sweet sorrow, that I shall say good night till it be morrow.”

Mommy, I know you were watching with me our little “Sammy’s” performance tonight. And I know you knew too that this one was especially for you. We love you very dearly. Good Night!

How’s Sam Today? (Part 2)

Yes, I must say that most of people who knew Mariel would typically start our conversations with that question. That’s because they knew how precious little “Sammy” was to her mom. For Mariel had always wanted only the best for her daughter even if it meant that her own career and personal convenience will often have to take a back seat. But she didn’t mind, for Samantha was her “magnum opus”, all the best things she ever hoped to be and much more. Now I can only tremble at the responsibility but still choose to carry on for Mariel. Because I love her and find this task as the best way to thank her for the life we shared and for her truly “giving” heart.

Today, April 27, I brought Sam to Virra Mall in Greenhills to have a “fun” afternoon with her cousins, Gabby, Trisha and Julia. They had the usual dash to check out the latest Nintendo DS games at the gadget store. This week’s favorite flavor is none other than Super Mario (He’s back folks and if you’d care to know Mariel too spent many hours on the game and excelled at it some “twentysomething” years ago.) Sam of course seems to be very “okay” when she is around her cousins and playmates as her mom’s absence is momentarily eased. I still however sense a deep sadness in her. But who would not be, after a gaping hole had been created by her mom’s loss. Again we only choose to carry on despite the great inertia to cave in and abandon the “fight”. Because Mariel had exemplified always doing the “right things” and we should not do anything less. Always.

Hooray! School’s Out For Summer.

At Karon Beach, Phuket

I never prayed for the Summer break to come more than any other year.

No, I was not exactly daydreaming about the white sandy beaches, although they are every bit inviting. I was actually ruminating on getting back some part of my life now that I didn’t have to worry, at least for a few months, about doing homeworks and projects and quizzes and unit tests and trimestral exams. You see since Mariel left for God’s garden, I had to take her place with managing Sam’s daily slew of school work. I never really realized how much hard work when into it until now. Mariel had to deal with GCFs, LCMs, running the household along with doing her regular office work at the bank. She was truly one “Superwoman”. And she never once complained. I had a taste of it these past months and almost lost my mind dealing with mixed fractions and parts of the plant. Now I can see why Mariel had looked forward so much to making the yearly trip to Baguio or occasional outing to the beach resort. It was really the only time to get away from it all.

I asked Sam where she’d like to go for some well-earned “rest and recreation” this year. She’s still deciding, but I just can’t wait to idle away some evenings and catch up on those books still left unread. I do cherish my times with my daughter working on assignments but it’s simply that school work takes so much time away from doing the “cooler” stuff in life. I’ve been reading about some nice places to see in Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) Vietnam. Perhaps I can take Sam along with me to check out its wonderfully chaotic markets in my next business “junket”. I know that her Mommy had a chance to see the place many years back when she visited sis Joy Davy who lived there for a while. She told me of its beautifully crafted art and very enterprising people. Perhaps this can be a short sentimental journey for the three of us (for I know Mariel will be with us too like the good old days once again).

So, hooray Mommy, let’s head out for the beaches.