Thank You Mommy!

mariel-at-the-park

“All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my… mother” — Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865)

Coming home from school, I asked Sam about the little box in her school bag that had this wonderful Lincoln quote (it was a gift from her grandma). I also wanted to know if she still often thinks about her mom. She just simply nodded, probably thinking it was a rather silly question. I guess I just wanted again to find another excuse to talk about Mariel. (I’ve often felt a bit embarrassed finding myself unintentionally “appending” my beloved into many casual conversations. Friends I think do their best however to “accommodate” this habit). That was when I asked Sam further about what she thought she had “owed’ her mommy with regard to being who she was. I kidded her that I was quite sure that she had “inherited” the healthy appetite from me. She then went on to enumerate the following, as best as a young ten-year old can. ”

“Thank you mommy for”:

– “my good grades” (she believes it’s her mom and rightfully so, who had instilled in her the discipline to take school work seriously and consequently excel in it. Sam works hard at it and I see Mariel’s passion for perfection in our little Sammy too)

– “my nice skin” (Mariel did have that unbelievably flawless complexion. Fortunately too Sam got her’s and not mine)

– “my nice clothes” (I think Sam meant mommy’s fine taste in clothes. Mariel had always been a smart dresser and channeled this passion in getting Sam clothes and accessories almost weekly)

– “our nice house” (Mariel loved to make our home comfortable and beautiful. She was always taking care to decorate it specially during Christmas. I guess I just have to do my best to continue where she had left off)

Our only daughter, in time, I know will come to realize that there are so much more to be appreciated about her mommy  (specially with her mom’s complete love and devotion to her). I have come to recognize more and more each day, that Sam is indeed becoming to be all the best things her mommy was.

I still miss Mariel as much as the day when she had left us for God’s garden. But it eases the pain somewhat each time I get to be with Sam. Because she is truly Mariel’s greatest gift to me, having given the best part of herself through our beloved daughter.

We thank you Mommy for your life of love. We love you!

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Through the Looking Glass

This week brought me back to where my journey had began. I tried so hard to avoid going to UST hospital this past year but I just couldn’t get out of this one simply because Sam needed to be admitted to the same hospital after having taken some “bad food” at a party and her pediatrician happens to come from the very place too. And much more, the only available room was on the same floor where Mariel and I had stayed a year ago. It was like diving to the trenches anew. Tough luck or providence? You be the judge.

For a time I was of course more preoccupied with Sam who was going through the lab tests and was running a high fever. But still the images and emotions of the recent past had kept hounding me, taunting me to confront my fears and regrets. It wasn’t long before I had finally found the guts to again walk the long, lonely corridor. To relive the days when time had stood still. To return to the valley of tears.

I must admit however that it was not as bad as I had imagined. In fact, I felt a certain kind of peace with my sadness, as I stood outside the door where Mariel and I had shared seven fateful days not so long ago, believing love will be enough to get us through. At that point, some nurses at the station recognized me and remembered Mariel. (I guess very few people really forget her once they somehow get to know her.) They said they remembered most the whiteness and porcelain-like texture of her skin. I’m not surprised though, because I had always known that Mariel had radiated such simplicity and childlike purity. That’s what most people usually grasp, that was the very feeling I had when I met her for the first time at the Gourmet Cafe. She was glowing and almost translucent. It was like old times again for some fleeting moments. And I neither felt afraid nor burdened because I was sure, Mariel was there holding my hand.

Good night Mommy. ‘ Love you.

Mariel’s First

At around 5:20 am exactly a year ago, Mariel was called home to God’s garden leaving behind me and our daughter Sam to try to make out the Lord’s plan for her…for us. We were at such a loss then because she was the one that held our family together. Her self-effacing ways made everything in our home run routinely easy and almost boringly simple. Until of course this fateful day in September, which will now forever be etched in our hearts.

I started this blog really to try to “communicate” with her. Because there is so much more I had not told her well enough. Like, how much I loved her and how much I had truly appreciated her loving ways. (You know these very important things are oftentimes the first casualties of our obsession with the daily grind). Now therefore, all I want to do for the rest of my life is to remind others to “pay more attention” to love. And in the process even make a few more people “discover” what an exceptionally beautiful person Mariel was.

May I please ask you to say a little prayer for Mariel Gina Francia Bello today. She was one who wanted neither fame nor great riches. All she cared about was to be with family and do every little part of each day properly and boringly well. And that is why she was truly special.

We love you Mommy.

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.

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!

Every Day I Miss You (Part 1)

“If I had a single flower for every time I think about you, I could walk forever in a garden”.- C. Gandhi

What’s there to miss about Mariel? I’d say, a world. For starters, she had always provided me with that reassuring presence that I could do just about anything I decide to put my heart into, and that she’d be there to follow me to the ends of the earth. Out of enthusiasm, unwavering belief, respect…, love? I guess all of the above, and more. For Mariel had in her also the qualities of any good leader– knowing exactly when to get into the picture and when to get out of the way. And while we had so many “spirited debates” over the years about almost everything, she never once imposed her ideas on me. Because she had always tried to win me with reason and even better, with her example. She was first to sacrifice her love of shopping during times when finances weren’t too great. That’s why I felt so guilty when hankering after my latest “gadget” then. But lucky me, many times she had conveniently looked the other way while as I raided Apple Center. She had “spoiled” me and I miss her so much now.

I also miss her creative home decor projects. Those who knew Mariel will tell you how much she loved to decorate our little home. While her favorite themes were mostly English country-style, she had this knack for making masterpieces of even “found” objects. But I’d just say that she had only wanted our home to be plainly clean, sunny and comfortable. Bright floral prints interacted with fresh greens and cool blues. And certainly, life would not be complete if we didn’t have her favorite accents of lilac, violet or purple (yes, her signature color). While I often contradicted her ideas with my own “unique” design sense, I have to admit now that most of the time she was right when it came to knowing where to put the piano or next flower pot.

I miss her for her ways with Sam. Mariel loved her dearly, but really knew when to “discipline” her. She had always told me it was all about timing. She knew when to be firm and when to give those hugs. I am truly lousy at it even today. So, I usually end up aggravating Sam’s feelings even when I just wanted to give her some encouragement. I really need to practice more and get guidance from my Mariel.

I also miss just sitting around the house and reading the newspaper with her. We would get into these lively exchanges on politics, business news and at times times about that juicy entertainment gossip around town too. Mariel could gamely trade views on just about everything from Alan Greenspan to Brangelina. And that’s why she was never a bore to be with. She would always make you feel comfortable and knowledgeable. She would try to reach out to you, even when initially she’d appear “offish” when you first meet her. I guess she was just in some ways shy, but she was always really very compassionate.

I miss her for her “heart”. She was usually first to remember birthdays, anniversaries of friends and kin. She had always gently reminded me of these things. She was genuinely concerned about the well-being of people. Whether it was to visit a friend who was sick or to get that little present for my mom when we see her on Sundays to cheer her up, Mariel simply cared for others. And she would do this in ways that you’d never even feel that you’d have to return the favor. I’ve heard many, many stories of people she had “helped”, all of which I’ve come to know only after she died. She never once tried to share any of her little acts of charity with me. Giving came to her naturally, and oftentimes it was Sam and me who were at the receiving end.

Tonight I just miss snuggling on the bed with her and our “Sammy”. I miss her warm and comfy embrace, her nice smell, her kisses that were more like sniffs. I miss her gentle reminder of that “early meeting” tomorrow. I miss giving her those leg massages that put her to sleep. I miss coming home late then waking her up in the middle of the night just to tell her stories about how our high school reunion went. (And she’d even try to stay up and be sympathetic.). I simply just miss being next to Mariel now and knowing that everything will be all right tomorrow when I wake, knowing that she’ d be there to follow me to the ends of the earth if she had to.

I love you Mommy. I do miss you every day. There are so many things I want to tell you when we next meet. Good night.