Ever since I can remember, I had this feeling of awareness about my difference. Some people interpret it as eccentricity but I think of it as gift. My gift is something which I have utilized since I was a child. It has something to do with following my gut feelings and always it has brought me good things in life. When I encounter a bad experience, at my early adulthood years I question God why I was given that experience. But I learned to rephrase my question in the recent years to what is it you want me to learn in this experience.
My parents were very typical. They were strict to their daughters because we were all girls in the family and most especially my father he was the one who never spared the rod. His idea of discipline was always a matter of beating or slapping one of us. At first I never understood that kind of discipline for the reason that one I think it was very harsh and two it was really embarrassing especially when he does it in front of our friends or other people. I never knew it would come in handy in my growing up years because the beatings taught me to be strong not only in mind but also in spirit.
I was a free-spirited kid. My dad maybe in his wisdom saw in me something that he needed to curb with the only way he knew how. The beatings actually made me strong in the sense that I am not afraid of any physical abuses or any form of abuse that I may encounter. It made me become a risk-taker because I was not scared of exploring different places, cultures and most especially in undertaking a new task or endeavor. I was never afraid of the dark anymore and I learned to accept all challenges with open arms because my dad’s way of disciplining us taught us to be resilient and gave me this “never quit” attitude.
But it was a realization that took place when a life-altering incident happened. In the 17th of June, 1997 he was discovered dead in his room at his staff house. During the wake, at the wee hours of the morning when all people who came to offer their condolences have gone home and all that’s left was just me, my mom and my sisters the resounding fact that no one was going to fend for us anymore was bouncing in my head all the while.
The immediate challenge for the family then was our education. My eldest sister and I were in college then and my strong willed mother never backed out from the challenge. Single-handedly she worked day and night to see us through.
It was a struggle of wits and coincidences. Luck was not there all the time to see us through. We were always at the point of nothingness. We learned to live each day never anticipating where to get for tomorrow. My mom’s faith in God was all that she had. She always said to me, when she decided to get out of the convent, getting married and having children was a mission she undertook. Her resilience is out of this world. Strong and optimistic she is an epitome of a woman who deserves to be put in a pedestal always. She was very “maparaan”. Always finding solutions to problems.
As I think most people adore their mothers, my mom is someone I can’t live without. She is like a vital organ to the body, the water that gives life to me and my sisters.
I coined our family “Little Women” because we are like the sisters in that book. Our mom, who is our boat worked hard to soften the bluntness of life’s reality. But in the end, the experience taught us the value of trusting each other and always looking at each other’s back and to never put your hope to other people most especially when it comes to the financial aspect. We lived in our means and we learned to shut ourselves from what other people would say about us.
Fast forward today. A week ago, my youngest sister passed the nursing board exam. Now, we are starting to fulfill our lifelong plans for the family and hopefully despite our mother’s illness we will be able to make her dreams into a reality.
It was one hell of a ride, but now we are starting to reap the fruits of our sacrifices. The good life has just begun for the Almonte women. And we remain, the “Little Women” forever.
(written in July 2009)