It’s post-Mother’s Day and Father’s Day is almost here. The events of the past two years of pandemic have been a reminder to me that life is short and that you shouldn’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today. So here I am writing something to somehow honor my mother and my father.
I’ll start with the usual, they’re the best parents ever. I could just stop there and that’d be typical of me. But for this time, I’ll go ahead and crunch out some more words than my usual.
Probably the most important lesson my siblings and I got from my parents is faith. Not religiosity but more of spirituality. Growing up, we we’re pretty non-denominational. We were either Catholic and/or Born Again.
In any case, we were raised with solid Christian values. Proverbs 22:6 says “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” And that pretty much sums up how my parents are to me and my siblings, in faith and in everything else. Because of this, I’m glad to say, we had a quite trouble-free childhood, youth, and even adulthood.
They also taught us the value of learning. Both my parents were teachers and they are two of the smartest people I know. They are very passionate about learning so school was very important. We had to study and study and study some more.
We did have an advantage at school because they taught Mathematics and Biology, two of the tougher subjects. We got unlimited tutoring on those though sometimes the sessions did end in tears. But by and large they were successful and I’m left with only Filipino and Araling Panlipunan as my biggest challenges. Until now they’re challenges… in homeschooling the kids.
They also taught us the value of working with our hands. We didn’t do it too much because we were blessed with some help at the house. But I think we did enough to learn and appreciate it.
Inside the house, we made our own beds, folded our own clothes, put to order our own lockers, cleaned the floor, cooked, set the table, and washed the dishes. Even bathroom and toilet cleanup.
Outside on the yard, we dug holes, watered the hedge (with a pail and dipper, no hose), cleaned the yard, cleaned the roof, gathered and split wood. One summer I even did some carpentry: I installed the walls of the greenhouse after the carpenters set up the frame and roof.
Beyond being great parents day to day, I witnessed them do heroic stuff. There are a few that I vividly remember.
Once, we were in a passenger jeep waiting for it to fill. There was this baby/toddler being carried by his mother and he was staring with glassy eyes at me. I stared back and was contemplating the possible reasons when I was startled by the mother hysterically screaming something about convulsion. I was scared and confused but my mom wasn’t. She leapt into action putting a wet cloth on the baby’s forehead and directing the driver to go to the campus infirmary. I was pretty much convinced she saved that baby’s life.
She’s got healing powers, my mom. All of us siblings, never ever spent a day confined in a hospital. We do get sick, especially sickly me. But she’s both our doctor and nurse and was always there till we get better.
It doesn’t stop with healing powers.
There’s this time when a student who failed a course went to the house of his teacher, our neighbor across the street. He was drunk and he had a lead pipe (or was it something else?) with him. The hapless teacher tearfully went across the street to our house with the guy shouting and holding the pipe menacingly following her. My mom met them at the gate and placated the guy and successfully defused the situation.
We lived in a university town, the main campus of one of the country’s best universities. As I mentioned earlier, both my mom and dad were teachers. Like our neighbor across the street, they had to deal with disgruntled students and bad people threatening bodily harm.
At least twice, armed men visited the house as we were having dinner. As soon as we hear them coming, we would quickly turn off the lights. The men outside would ask for my dad and either my mom or one of my aunts would tell them he’s not around. They would then leave after several tense minutes.
Some teachers were injured or even killed.
One foggy evening, we heard a commotion in the alley beside our house. Suddenly there were two shots and then a blood-curdling scream for help. Then more shots. My mom and dad ran outside and helped the victims, a couple. My dad on his own carried the guy who was shot to the bench of the store in front of our house. My mom helped the lady into our house and waited for transportation to the hospital. Unfortunately, the guy later died.
But despite these dangers, my mom and dad continued teaching and working at the university. By the time they retired, they had taught thousands of students. These students went on to help build the country, even the world, as engineers, doctors, nurses, lawyers, and, of course, teachers who went on and taught the next generation. That’s the exponential superpower of teachers, and of my parents.
Speaking of superpowers, my dad was in the reserve officer training corps and there’s this photo of him doing a commando crawl rope traverse. There were no videos back then but I could just imagine him gliding over trees, cliffs, and rivers as Superman would… only with a rope.
And another time, the family was strolling around the campus and passed by the university library. It’s a unique building shaped like a fort with steep sloping walls. My dad decided to try scaling the wall. As we waited atop the wall, he tried and crawled up the wall like Spiderman would. I was in awe!
The truth is both of them are my heroes, my role models, my mom, my dad. I am ever grateful to our Father in heaven for them.
Mom, Dad, Belated happy Mother’s Day and advanced happy Father’s Day! I love you.