Mama

IMG_0730
Circa 1971 – 1972. Photo provided by author.

So my grandmother passed peacefully in her sleep two days ago. Had my husband and I gone, I wouldn’t have been able to shower her with hugs and kisses.

She’s the woman standing in the picture, her arm around my waist. My grandfather was holding my hand.  And finally, my aunt and uncles. This picture was taken circa 1971 – 1972.

Anyway, I don’t know how I feel about this: I felt so much relief at my family’s support of my mental health, and now, I don’t know, she’s gone. Just gone.

She’s the woman who raised me for at least 6 months when I was 2 years old, after my mom left for the US. And for another 6 months (at least) when I was 4. Six months after my mom left, my dad followed suit. I remember going through photo albums and becoming jealous of any picture that contained my parents without me.

But Mama was there. Mama fed, washed, and clothed me as if I were her own. This, in addition to having one son either in school or working, another in the U.S., a daughter in medical school, and a third son either finishing up high school, or starting college. Who knows? In some part of my 2-yo brain, maybe I considered her my own mother. Maybe I still do.

As I began writing this post I was overcome with emotion, which bubbled up from nowhere. I never cried like this for my real mother — I haven’t cried at all for her. But I’m discovering that my grandmother maybe, just maybe, is my mother, too.

Rest in Peace, Mama

Love, ~Chic


NOTE: “Chic” is my Filipino nickname among my family.


Daily Prompt: Bubble

Self-Stigmatization

shadows-of-hands-and-humans-in-gloomy-room
Photo on Visualhunt.com

When I was figuring out what to write about today, this paragraph from my previous post popped up.

“Relatives might ask where I am. Others might think I’m disrespectful for not being there. If I was there, I can only imagine the deluge of questions. Why’s your hair that color? Do you think you’re still a kid? What is [this] PHP? Or maybe no one would ask any questions at all.”

And that’s when I observed that I self-stigmatize. I was so worried about what other family members might think of me. Okay, my dad and uncle already told me that the Philippines is half the world away, Mama won’t recognize anyone (dad), and Mama will understand (uncle). Then, when I expressed my worry about relatives not seeing me and wondering about me (above paragraph), they basically blew that off — not the question, the other family members. I could have held my red head high and talked about why I don’t have kids.

If the funeral was here, of course I’d be there, and I’d be there ready to answer any question sent my way.

The word “loser” just popped into my head, but I don’t know who it’s meant for, because it certainly isn’t for me.

Pay attention to your speech patterns. Do you self-stigmatize?


Daily Prompt: Observe

The Future Funeral

35765455526_6360c54683_z
Photo credit: Glendale Lapastora (1) on Visual Hunt / CC BY-SA

I hadn’t heard news this morning about whether my grandma made it through the night. Thankfully. I’ll still mourn her — especially because I made the abrupt choice to stay here, and work on my mental health. I was trying to convince myself of this, and then realized how much time I’ve spent in both a hospital and a PHP in March & now April; I don’t want to stay in another one.

Plus, it’s not like we’re just flying somewhere within the US — this is a MASSIVELY LONG trip! On the way to PHP today, my husband asked me who I would be there to see, my grandma or my family? “Grandma,” I grumbled.

My husband suggested that we go later this year, when the trip wouldn’t be all hurry–hurry-hurry. He pointed out my physical problems (something going on with my left ear), and my sense of equilibrium. I already have appointments to see my Primary Care Physician, and Optometrist. Oh, right. There’s something going on with my vision, and if I try to tell anyone, they might seriously think I’m psychotic. These were part of planning for the trip, though I needed to see those doctors, anyway.

Relatives might ask where I am. Others might think I’m disrespectful for not being there. If I was there, I can only imagine the deluge of questions. Why’s your hair that color? Do you think you’re still a kid? What is [this] PHP? Or maybe no one would ask any questions at all.

So easy to make this about myself. I just don’t want them to think I’m being disrespectful.

If you missed the funeral of an elevated family member, would your relatives consider you disrespectful?


Daily Prompt: Abrupt

Out of Nowhere

9380481605_fd1226382f_z
Photo credit: greggman on VisualHunt.com / CC BY

As I put one arm through one sleeve and the other arm through the other, on my black, silky-type shirt this morning, I knew something bad would happen. For example, while eating yogurt, the cuff dragged across the top of the yogurt cup, which I somehow knew would happen. And of course, the yogurt smeared across my sleeve wouldn’t just wipe off. It required soaking, and I didn’t have time for that. I changed into my back-up outfit, and, though unexpected, everything was fine.

Do you ever have feelings of impending doom go through your head? My paternal grandmother, who lives in the Philippines, is fading away. I want to see her before she passes, and I’m afraid that won’t happen, based on my sister’s most recent report (Mama’s had pneumonia for a while). She refuses to eat, and keeps saying that she’s so tired. And who wouldn’t be at 101 years old?

I’d have to leave PHP for at least a week, and while they’re okay with me doing that, I’m not sure that I should. Health comes first, right? But Mama was the matriarch, which probably means that relatives I haven’t seen in a while will be there, and although I’d love to see them under different circumstances, I wouldn’t want to be surrounded. I’d want time alone with her, which, to be honest, I don’t think I’d be able to get. I have a LOT of relatives! Lol!

I was 2 when my parents moved to the US: first my mom, and 6 months later, my dad. I was 3 when some political $hit went down, so my mom flew back there and got me out. The original plan was for Mama to vacation here, while bringing me at the same time. While I was happy to see my mom, I was unhappy to leave my grandparents. I was right to be. I arrived at a home in which my parents yelled at each other non-stop.

At 4-1/2, I went back to the Philippines. I don’t know the reason, though my mom said, “because we thought you’d like it” (sigh, really?) And I did like it, she was right. But it was a 6-mo. stay! On the one hand I loved this, because I got to be around Mama and Papa, my aunt and uncles, but on the other hand, however flawed, I missed my parents. But Mama and Papa were there.

I miss my grandmother, but I don’t think I’m healthy enough for all of the travel, the weird popping going on with my ear, how rushed we’ll be.

Have you ever had to make the sort of decision? Your health vs. the death of a family member?


Daily Prompt: Sleeve