For two decades, we have not celebrated mother's day. My mother left us to move on to the other side of life more than 20 years ago. She was just 50. At the time of her death, I was barely off high school and in the awkward, difficult stage called adolescence. It was a bad time for her to go.
My mother was a career woman at a time when careers were not even called as such. This picture of her with all of my siblings and a nephew was so typical of her -- a super mom.
She practically raised us -- six siblings -- single-handedly when our father went into some sort of self-exile after his arrest during the Martial Law years. Mama was working as a registrar and later on, finance officer, of a local Catholic school. On the side, she was an Avon franchise dealer, a Tupperware lady and at the same time, running our farm. On weekends, she would either be leading the affairs in our diocese or holding relief operations in our neighborhood. And she was raising six children!
It amazes me no end looking back at how our mother managed to juggle motherhood, career, side-lines, civic work, religious duties all at the same time. To think that she would never miss checking on us week by week in school. She was the only mother who would do parent-teacher consultation when hands-on parenting was not yet coined.
On the evenings before we went to bed, she would marvel us with stories of the war-times -- how the Japanese took their home and turned it into a garrison, her encounters with "santelmo's" (St. Elmo's fire), her family back in the Occidental side of Negros, and our lola's "third eye" and her encounters with dwende's and spirits. We would all be shrieking at the horror stories but nevertheless, we would beg her to tell them over and over again.
Mama almost never got sick. The only time I remembered her getting sick was when she came from Dumaguete, then about five hours drive from our town because of the rough roads. She probably got too tired from the travel.
It came as a shock to everyone in our town, especially us, when she died in a freak medical accident while undergoing minor surgery.
Our life turned upside down when mama died. Suddenly, our home was never the same again. The orderliness of our mother. (She was definitely OC!) The discipline. The gentle reminders. The hugs and kisses. Suddenly the center of our lives, who put all of us in our right places, was gone. I supposed all of us siblings, and even our father, questioned God why. Why was she gone so soon? She was the best mother any child could ask for. I don't think I am even close to her as a super mom.
Thankfully, God knows the best timing. He took our mother after she had instilled the right discipline in each one of us. If God took her earlier, we would all have been ill-prepared. But if He took her later, we would have lost both our parents. Because a few months after her death, our home was bombed, and the shrapnels landed mostly in our parents room. Since mama's death, our father stopped sleeping in their bedroom. But had she been alive, she and papa would have died a brutal death. Truly, God has a reason for everything.
What I am today as a mother and as a wife, I mostly attribute to my own mother. She, who patiently read me bedtime stories amidst candlelight. (Electricity was only until 8pm then.) And I have five other siblings she would also put to sleep. She, who taught me mostly what I know -- from household chores to survival tips. She, who taught us to care for others. And most especially, she who taught us to love God with all of our hearts, mind and soul.
Mama was not perfect. But she was the best. I never had the chance to say Happy Mother's Day to her. But today, I honor my mother -- Sofia Lopez-Vito Hernandez for being the best mother we could ever have. I praise and thank God for giving us nobody less than her.