Letigio: Growing up without ‘Mama’

My mother would have been 63 years old by now. She would have celebrated her birthday last January 20.

Yet in my mind, she’s still 49 years old, frozen in age with my last memory of her, before I went to school on the morning of January 25, 2008.

It wasn’t the last time I saw my mother, but it was the last time I would hear her talking to me, alive.

It amazes me that after so many years, a part of me is still the 12-year-old girl who watched the last heartbeat of her mother on the monitor hoping against hope it would beat again.

Fifteen years have passed, and I’ve lived motherless for more than half my life. Anyone could get used to it. Grief gets better in time, and one simply survives.

Yet as I grow older, I still feel a part of me is missing. It throbs like a phantom limb.

As a woman, you notice the difference in the way I’ve taught myself to do things on my own without any help. That happens when you can’t cry for “Mother!” when you fall.

A week ago, I got stuck at a comfort room stall in a Luxury Hotel and Casino at the South Road Properties (SRP) and it took me a solid five minutes to ask for help. Only when I finally felt suffocated that I begin banging on the door screaming awkwardly.

I realized that this was the result of years of internalizing the phrase, “Wa imong Mama diri.” (Your Mom’s not here).

While many women learned feminine habits from their mothers, I learned them from my sisters, the television, and magazines. It took me a long while to be comfortable going to a salon, trying on skincare products, or even using a handbag.

I never learned how to become a party hostess, which is sad because my mother was an extrovert who loved hosting parties.

There were so many things I should have learned from my mother that I had to learn elsewhere.

But perhaps, the one thing I wished I could have learned from her is how to be a mother myself. I never got to observe my Mama’s mothering skills with an adult eye.

This is the reason I greatly fear starting my own family. How would I take care of my husband and children? Nobody taught me, nobody could teach me.

I know life will teach you the lessons you need to learn, anyway, and so if I had to start my own family one day, I will simply take on the role naturally.

Yet I would have loved Mama to be a part of that. All of her three grandchildren: AJ, Lexie, and Iya, were born without knowing her. If I have children, they wouldn’t know Mama as well.

Until now, I still wish she was here to celebrate the ups and downs of our families. I can only pray that she is smiling down from heaven over us.

I miss you, Mama. Happy birthday