December 12, 2007 @ around seven in the evening, an old woman in her late 70’s standing by the road on that dark portion of Magsaysay St. in City of Sorsogon. She carefully checking on both directions for any in coming vehicles before she will cross the highway. A pack of ice wrapper in her hand she just bought from nearby store. A few minutes ago she’d just came from the sentro with some groceries for her sari-sari store. After checking her groceries she found out that she forgot to buy the ice wrapper. She told my father that she will just buy instead from a nearby store. Her eyesight was clearer than mine. She don’t wear eye glasses even at night. (I do.) When she saw that the highway was clear, she decided to cross, but suddenly there was a speeding motorcycle that appeared from the eastern lane, and it was too late to avoid it. According to one witness, she circled in the air several times before falling on a concrete road. (It’s still painful to write the details of this.)
As a youngest of six, I have a lot of memories being together with my mother. During my pre-school years, we were living in a barrio. My siblings were studying at Pamurayan Elementary School with their lunch wrapped in a banana leaf prepared by my mother. Feeling jealous that I was the only one without it, she also prepared a small pack for me in which I will open and eat with her during my lunch time.
When there was no dish available, she would just grate a coconut meat and squeezed a few drops unto my plate. Add a little salt and mold it into a bite size rice balls. Maybe I enjoyed the shapes that’s why I didn’t complain the taste. That’s one thing I learned from her. Being indigenous. Whatever you have on hand, used it. Don’t complain and don’t see what is on other peoples’ hand.
During my pre-teens, we lived in Bitan-o, a few hundred meters from the coastal area. And during summer (the tides are high) she just let me swim with my friends in a nearby suba. She didn’t tied me at home as long as my chores were dutifully done. And that taught me of being independent and responsible. She’s not the kind of mother who was searching the neighborhood if she doesn’t see her son within an hour. But during college days (sem breaks and summers), she was worried enough every time I comes home late. And she scolded me every time I comes late and sober. I understand her because in those days, there were drug addicts who will make fun of you pagka napag-tripan ka nila. In our family, drinking of liquor is not a taboo. As long as marunong kang magdala at wag mong aabusuhin ang katawan mo. But this rule didn’t made me a “drunken master”. Life is what we make it ika nga.
December 13, 2007, me and my family temporarily living with my in-laws in Antipolo for my wife’s medication. I received a call from my sister informing me that our mother was in the ICU. She was hit by a motorcycle. The short conversation was over but my ears are still ringing. It’s like the effect of someone threw a fire cracker just beside you. On that same day me and Kuya Ben (our eldest and the only sibling living in manila), agreed to just meet me at Cubao bus station. The bus was scheduled to leave by seven according to the dispatcher. But thirty minutes after seven, we are still there. My brother confronted the driver and the conductor, “buhay ng aming ina ang hinahabol namin kaya kami sumakay sa inyo dahil sabi niyo aalis ng alas siyete!” mabuti na lang di rin mainit ang mga ulo ng dalawa. They said they were waiting for a passenger who’s ticket of group of teachers are with him. He is a Head Teacher (pa naman). The group of teachers asked an apology for the late coming of their head teacher.
The next morning we were already at the ICU. Our mother was thin ever since, but that time her face and arms were swelling. There were a lot of tubes connected to her body aside from the oxygen. My big brother was beside her, crying while talking to her. I was standing near her feet. Awang-awa ako sa kalagayan nya. I wanted to cry but no tears coming from my eyes. It didn’t came out until we left ICU room. I hate being like this. Late reaction. From the ICU, we headed to laboratory room for blood extraction. They’ve been searching for some blood donors for the whole night, but didn’t found enough donors. Kuya Ben was the first being interviewed by the doctor who was in charge of our mother. “Ok lang ba kahit ganito kalaking karayom ang gagamitin sa pagkuha ng dugo sa’yo?” mentioning to the inner tube of the ballpen that holds the ink. What a silly question I thought. But in the end, I was the only one who passed the screening. My brother was over age, the doctor said. It was my first time for it, and the medtech cautioned me not to squeeze the rubber ball in my hand rapidly or else my veins will explode. I was lying in there, praying that my blood will extend her life more.
On her eight day at the ICU, she struggled a lot. Looks like she was fighting with kamatayan and she didn’t want to go with him. And it seems like my father was being hurt more, seeing her like that. And he even prayed to God, “if You will take her, take her now”. Her medicines, aside from to much expensive, our eldest sister sometimes need to go to nearby province of Albay for there was no available in our province.
On her 9’th day in the ICU, her body returned to normal. The swelling has gone and she could talk slowly. She even said to my father “let’s go home”. Nobody thought on which she was referring to as “home”. And we realized later on that day, she returned “home” to her creator. On the day of December 24’th 2007, our neighbors busy were preparing for their media noche. While we were busy preparing for her funeral. And that was the last time we saw her. We spent Christmas eve on the road to Manila. It could be the saddest Christmas Eve we ever had. It was sad not because we miss the traditional noche Buena, but sad because we lost one in our family. I know that each of us will die sooner or later but it’s still hard to accept.
Until now, her case is still not closed. The reckless driver is still free. With a very few trials every year, it might be the tactics of the defense side. To delay the court proceedings until the complainant dies. And the complainant is our old father. With our present justice system, I doubt if we could still have the suspect pay for his crime. But I have no doubt, our mother will still receive justice for her death there in His paradise.
“And the heavens proclaim his righteousness, for God Himself is judge.” (Pslam 50:6)
Mama, wherever you are, we don’t forget you and we will always love you….