By YOLLY ROGERS
I packed my black suitcase anxiously and travelled to the Philippines solo (for the first time) last June 18 for five weeks. I went home to be with mum to fulfil my promise to see her every year. I was there last year too in February with my second daughter Athena who had developed a liking for boy bawang and goldilocks polvoron. Our four weeks planned became five with mum’s insistence to stay another week.
This time I intended to go in August but my sister said mum was ill. My brother and nephew picked me up at the airport according to my suggestion. When I got there at my brother’s home in Lipa city the house was half full of relatives wanting to see me. Mom was there, her eyes lit up saying, “Yolly ano ga kumusta …” I bestowed her a warm embraced. She looked rather pale and emaciated due to her diminished appetite.
Already, she had underwent a series of check-up, her x-ray showed her lungs were fine but her cholesterol was a bit elevated and blood pressure unusually low. Mum’s memory had deteriorated since last time I saw her. I had brought with me the tape (medley songs) we used to often listen together the last time she visited me in Australia in 2003, in fact it was her tape and I got it copied, she kept the original. I played the music and asked, “Mother do you still remember these songs we used to play when we do exercise together?” She shook her head and said no, emphatically. Unbelieving, I turned the music off.
The following day we took her to her original asthma doctor because she complained of phlegm on her throat and feeling weak. It was found out that she had an infection in her respiratory tract. She was given some antibiotics and some supplement to boost her poor appetite. We were relieved that at last they found out what was wrong with her.
My sister Grace (who has been looking after her thought that mum had a nervous breakdown) said that mum did not want her out of her sight, she did not want to be left alone. When Grace left I looked after mum at my brother’s house. I was to administer her medicine. Mum was eating fine and eventually her throat got better but she was still not her old self and always repeating things. Her doctor suggested a heart scan, the result was fine. I noticed her face was starting to pill out.
Mum loved music so I decided to buy her a handy CD player (showed her how to use it) and some records of Mabuhay singers plus Willie Revillame’s CD since she took a shine on him from watching Wowowee! Mum was delighted listening to old songs like “lawiswis kawayan” and together we would dance her favourite moves, the sway balance. Willie’s songs put a smile to her unwrinkled face (mum had good genes) though she would be eighty this year she did not look her age.
She thrived when surrounded by her family, she loved visitors. Most of the time just me and her (and the kasama sa bahay) in the house, my sister Helen would often visit with some “kakanin” and endlessly we would reminisce of happy times when we were young, mum loved it. In my last week mum insisted we stayed at our place in Rosario so we went. I realised mum had a bit of depression so I played doctor and bought her some fish oil. I was stunned at the improvement on her, she became happier.
That morning of my departure while sitting at the sofa next to mum she almost whispered, ”Yolly baka gusto mong mag-extend.” I assured her I would come back next year… She added, “Masaya naman ako at nagkita-kita tayo …”
Two times I gave mum hugs, bade goodbye to everyone and said, “from now on this driveway is going to be my airport departure …” I hopped in the car and my brother drove off. I had mixed emotions when I left thinking about mum.