Heaven opened up to admit a sweet angel, and that’s my Mama, known to grand- and great grandchildren as Lola Nena. She passed on November 7, 2017, 29 days shy of her 101st birthday (Dec. 6). Her masses and funeral services in Los Banos, Laguna, Philippines memorialized death as a passage to life eternal with God, but they also celebrated the life God gave her on earth, a life anchored on family, love and faith.
Up until the last year before she passed, Mama was vibrant, full of optimism that kindled sparkles to her eyes and zest to her smile. She especially perked up when sitting in the garden, amidst the mango, guava, dragon fruit, bamboo and palm trees, daisies, bougainvillea, hyacinth and lilies. Her garden visits in the early mornings must have brought to mind the many years she spent tending to orchid plants mounted on the wall behind her veranda, or weeding around the bushes and watering delicate seedlings sprouting in plots reserved just for her. She carried a passion for the garden that took her outdoors almost daily, even through the years when she was wheel chair-bound.
Her other passion was teaching. For several decades, she taught chemistry to college and graduate students, as well as math and physics for a few years at Santa Isabel College, now University of Santa Isabel in Naga City, Philippines. Her infectious enthusiasm and her deep, expert knowledge of the subject matter often resulted in packed classrooms. She energetically taught till she was 72.
Mama’s greater passion was family – children, grandchildren and great grandchildren who elicited a lift in her laughter, a twinkle in her eyes, contentment in her face, and a tugging gentleness in her smile. That smile lingers in my heart. It is there as God’s comfort for losing one so very dear to me. It is there as a reminder to rejoice in the thought that heaven opened up for another gentle soul.
Mama’s greatest passion was her faith. She exemplified steadfastness of belief in God who is the source of all love and blessings. She loved deeply.
We love you, Mama. May our Lord keep your gentle spirit in His bosom, in the company of angels and saints through all eternity.
The heart remembers …
Grappling whether to do something or not always gives me the kick. In the first place, I wouldn’t have to grapple if I didn’t want to do it … or wanted to do it. There, you see my dilemma. I can be Ying or Yang. Either way, I’m happy with the outcome because that means, I really grappled. I really thought it over. In most cases, the mind battles with the heart. And in most cases, the heart wins.
I am talking about digging up memories of my husband, who passed nearly two years ago. Grieving for my mother who passed on Nov. 7, 2017 brings back the grief over my husband’s passing on Dec. 4, 2015. It’s all so simple to say I’m happy; his spirit is rejoicing with the Lord. Faith allows us to absorb the shock and pain of grief. It allows us the strength to face the void that once was filled with liveliness, triumphs and challenges, even heartache. Faith soothes and comforts, but the heart remembers …