The last time I saw her alive was a long time ago, and it will never happen again. Mom’s funeral had just ended, and me and my family are heading to a mall to meet my brother. He invited us to eat out in a restaurant after the funeral, and we had just seen him together with his family at the funeral.
About my mother, whom we affectionately called Mom, we had last seen her last Christmas, where we came over to celebrate. She was not that weak, and her death came as a surprise to us because of that. Maybe, she had just missed us so much. Even at her birthday a couple of months ago, none of her children came over. We had just messaged our greetings online because we just can’t make it.
Her death made me and my brother’s world stop, and moving on will take some time. She had been such a good wife, a good mother, a good grandmother, and finally, a good person. Now, me and my family had arrived at the restaurant, and I can already see my loving brother coming up to greet us, with sad eyes and a happy smile. I hope this will be the start of a new chapter of my life, a life without my dear father and mother.
Don’t worry, mother, me and my brother will move on.
I can feel the cold June breeze flowing through me. Days after the funeral, me and my husband went to Mom’s house to clear stuff. It was the same house me and my brother grew up, and I can feel the flow of nostalgia in me. Then those wad of papers just showed up, just as Mom’s last will described. As I was inside Mom’s bedroom, some sheets of paper were left, neatly piled on top of my mother’s desk. Shrugging it off, I had taken a first look on it after I finish arranging the room.
I then saw, in Mom’s own handwriting, the content of those sheets of paper. They look quite old, and it turned out to be Mom’s anecdote of her motherhood; her life as a mother.
Knowing that the anecdote will take some time to finish, I had taken it home along with some other things. Every night, before I go to bed, I committed myself to finishing it.
About three months later, I had finally found myself near the end of those papers. My husband and the children had noticed me handing the papers, though, and they keep insisting in questioning the contents of the paper.
Until now, I hadn’t revealed to them what the papers are actually, but I will hand this document to them. After finishing the sheets of paper, I had again committed myself to typing all the contents of the paper, doing it every single day, and had finally finished it a few days ago.
Also, I added my part on this document, which is the prologue above. Finally, I am now ready to share this document to my husband, children, and my brother. It will take one click, and it will make them remember the times we all had with Mom.
Wish me good luck.
Chapter 1: Letter-Writing
Before I start anything, I would like to share on how me and my dear husband met. Our union will bring on a happy family, with Catherine and Carlos, Jr.
It was summer one year, I was joining my family in an out-of-town trip to Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte. The trip was very fun, and our first stop was in a beach. The beach itself is what made me excited for this trip, and there, I can feel the cool summer breeze and the calm waves of the sea.
Sitting in a chair, underneath a beach umbrella, I suddenly jolted at the pat of a stranger. I can’t call my mom or my dad, as they were swimming in the sea. Then that stranger asked for my name, and he introduced himself to me. He was quite good-looking, and there was a part of me that wanted to start a relationship with him. Well, I also introduced myself to him, and we had become friends in just minutes.
However, I was just nineteen, and my parents wouldn’t want me to have a boyfriend at that time. Being sneaky, at least, I requested him to write a letter for me, and we exchanged addresses. It was then time to say goodbye, and he can’t go to Manila anytime soon. He lives in Pagudpud, and he is working in the resort that me and my family just went through.
Getting back home was quite sad, as I had lost contact with my friend and the vacation is already over. Life has come back to its normal state again, I supposed. I could never end every single day without thinking about that stranger named Carlos, and for a while, I hoped that he would write me a letter.
Three long months had passed by, and it was the start of 2nd year college, with a course in teaching. I was then coming in the house, when my mother told me that a letter for me came. What was it? Was it Carlos’ letter?
I don’t want to satisfy my curiosity first, so I slid the letter on my bedside table, and filled up my mind with assignments and tasks I need to do. Hours have passed, dinner has passed, and I am finally ready to sleep. And finally, my curiosity had been satisfied. It was indeed Carlos’ letter, and it asked how am I, and said that things were all fine in his town. I was lovestruck, and I pushed myself to write a letter tomorrow.
Two years later, I had graduated from college, and by the next year, I had finally found a job as a teacher to Grade 1 students. My correspondence to Carlos was never been broken in those years, and now, he is an assistant manager in the same resort.
Five months after I started my teaching job, news came to me that Carlos had arrived to Manila.
Chapter 2: New Beginnings
A silly lie began it all. When I heard that Carlos had arrived in Manila, I knew that I had to see him in person, again.
After my job, I wrote him another letter, saying to him that I want to see him in the weekends, and he decides where. His letter came a few days later, and he invited me to see him on a restaurant on Saturday afternoon.
That Saturday finally came, and I told that silly lie I had mentioned earlier. I had told my parents that I will meet up some friends in the restaurant Carlos told me, and I will be back soon. Finally, I was finally on my way to meet Carlos again.
We, throughout the years, have considered this meeting as our first date. It was that moment, that 3-hour date full of talking, laughing, and getting to know each other, that made the first spark of our relationship.
Our secret dates continued until three months later, when we decided to let Carlos introduce himself to my parents before he leaves Manila. Fortunately for Carlos, he had gave a good impression on my parents, and they had liked him.
And then he left. Fortunately, we both had cellphones already, and communication was much easier. The next time we had seen each other again is until next summer, where I had a break from my teaching job.
Four years after the trip to Pagudpud, here am I again, in a family trip. I had called Carlos the day prior about the trip, and he told that he still works in the same resort. Unfortunately, my parents had unknowingly planned to take the family into a different resort, and I hadn’t see Carlos on that day.
But fortunately, our cellphones had saved us for the first time. We still contacted each other, and had a date on the first night of our vacation. The next day, Carlos took me to see his parents, which are apparently delighted by our relationship. And it was home time once more.
Oh Carlos, together with his sweet surprises! Before me and my family left, he had managed to catch us up, and he had proposed to me. Finally, that stranger I met at the beach four years ago, at the same place, became my fiancée.
It will then take another year of scrupulous planning and hardwork before the big day arrived. One year to choose me and Carlos’ outfits, design our wedding cake, rings, and more stuff. And that year has passed, and it finally came!
A few weeks before another school year starts, and before Carlos starts his new job in Manila, came our wedding. It was a warm, Sunday afternoon on May 29, and everything went as planned. It was one of the best moments of my life, with me finally founding “the one”. And the reception after the event lasted ’till night, where everyone certainly had fun!
After the reception, we passed the night at my parents’ house, and we went straight to the beach that set the cornerstone of our relationship, for a little honeymoon.
And that was the start of our marriage that lasted more than 20 years.
Chapter 3: Catherine is Born
Two silent happy years of our marriage had passed by, until I took that a pregnancy test at our bathroom. I felt the signs in the previous days. Carlos wasn’t home yet, and I was shocked that the test turned positive! Finally, after two years, me and Carlos are going to have a baby!
After that fateful test, I have to figure out how I am going to say the news to him. When Carlos was still my boyfriend, he told me that his family had a history of heart disease, and telling the surprise might excite his heart a little bit too much.
Then, I remembered that I should prepare our dinner, and I hoped to say the big news right there, at our dinner table.
Setting up the dinner table, I put a piece of paper under Carlos’ plate, and continued my work. Carlos then arrived from work, tired from a long day though. We then set for dinner and ate and talked and talked. Then was moment of sweet surprise, when I gathered the plates for washing, Carlos saw the note under his plate, and it read, “Hi future Daddy.”
Oh I could clearly remember seeing Carlos’ face of doubt, as he can’t believe that he is going to be a father. Fortunately, he didn’t take it too fast, or he might have a heart attack soon.
The future grandparents are also delighted by the news, especially my parents, as I will bring their first grandchild. Soon enough, I completed another school year, and I was 6 months pregnant then. Before summer started, it was already revealed that the baby will be a girl, and me and Carlos are still busy thinking names for our future baby.
Unfortunately, I didn’t gave birth before the school year has begun, and I have to take a year of teaching off to recover and care for my baby. Well, it was one Sunday afternoon on June 16, when the water broke after me and Carlos went to church.
Oh, going to the hospital is a rush, and I hadn’t prepared! However, I was grateful that I had went to mass before giving birth, as it was until 1:30 A.M., the next day, when I gave birth to Catherine Adrienne, my first child.
I then endured a slow but sweet recovery, and in that moment, I realized that I am now a mother, and I will be called as “Mom”, “Mommy”, or whatever the children want to call me.
From that moment on, I will always try my best to be the best mother ever, and that is the story of this letter. Well, I have little lives to take care of from that moment, and I had promised to do my best. My motherhood has officially begun.
Chapter 4: Early Years of Motherhood
The first visitors of Catherine were my parents, and they were so delighted to see the tiny, cute face of their first grandchild. Then came my coworkers in the school, and then Carlos’ coworkers. However, Carlos’ parents had come a little bit later, as they had to travel all the way from Pagudpud.
Then, the moment came when mother and daughter are both discharged from the hospital. Catherine has now seen the outside world from her own little eyes. We went home, and had dinner in the house together, the first time we did in a few days.
Knowing that I would miss a school year of teaching and work, I became sad for myself and for Carlos, as he had to work double-time to raise our family. However, I can’t be sad because I had to raise Catherine at home. Fortunately, our family and friends had become very supportive, and our family had made it through a year.
Raising Catherine was quite a challenge for me. She sleeps all day, but cries all night. Fortunately, I caught up with her, and I slept all day and tend her at night. During that time, I appreciate how Carlos is of big help in raising Catherine, and I let him sleep at night after a weary day.
I love how Catherine learns, day by day. I always let her watch educational shows on television, and I read her stories every night. And then came the time, when Catherine said her first word during a time my parents visited us. It was the word “Mama”.
However, I soon realize that another school year has ended. Shall I come back the next year? Shall I stop for a while, so my children can grow well? What will be my future? The closer and closer another school year begins, the more these questions bug me in everyday life.
Finally, I told Carlos of my problem, and he is willing for me to stop teaching for a while. I was just worried that he will continue working harder, as I am not working anymore, but he agreed to do so. Well, what could I do, and I only want the best for my daughter. I had then decided to rest for a while taking care of my daughter.
Days turn into months, and months turned into years. Caring for Catherine was quite a pleasure, and I can see that she learns very quickly, maybe from watching educational shows.
One time, while I was sleeping, memories of my childhood played by, and then I remembered what my family does every other Saturday. I remembered how we made graham cakes, and enjoyed its delectable taste. “Why not make a business out of it?” asked myself. And that will change my life for the next decade.
I then decided to continue with the business, as it would help anyways. Well, I started the week after, as I need to buy some containers and ingredients. Finally, now I can help Carlos earn money! Also, I can see that Catherine tries to help me in making the graham cakes. Oh, how I wish to live those silly moments again.
Now, the first batch of graham cakes were made, and I went around our neighborhood to sell them. Carrying Catherine in my arms, I can hear my neighbors telling me how cute she is. And the cakes sold out, thanks to my daughter’s cuteness.
This cycle of making and selling cakes continued for a while, and fortunately, it had turned in some profits. I was so happy that even though I can’t work as a teacher for while, I can help ease Carlos’ workload. And Catherine is enjoying the business with me.
But then another blessing came. Sensing some familiar feelings, I took another pregnancy test. And it came out positive. How should I tell Carlos, yet again?
Chapter 5: Junior is Born
And the happy family of three will welcome another family member. I remembered, it was my 29th birthday then, and I asked myself if that was the God’s birthday gift to me.
And I realized, how would I tell Carlos of this wonderful news? I had to step up my game, so I left a note at the door, telling him that he’s a daddy! Fortunately, Carlos wasn’t much surprised, but he did exclaimed, knowing that another baby is coming.
Everyone gets excited again, and there is now a sparking debate whether we will have two girls, or one boy and one girl. It was soon revealed that the baby was a boy, and we didn’t hesitate to name the baby after Carlos.
As the days go by, my excitement grows. The weather is getting colder, and it was a normal morning on November 22, when I felt the baby coming out. Fortunately, it was a Saturday then, or else, I would rely on my neighbor’s help to bring me to the hospital. Time flies so fast, and soon, I was giving birth to him. At 10:32 P.M., Carlos, Jr., had been born into this world.
My parents were the first visitors yet again, as they can’t wait to see their first grandson. Soon, our neighbors, then our officemates came. However, Carlos’ parents didn’t come until we had arrived at home, as they had some urgent concerns to fix back in Pagudpud. Soon enough, we celebrated Christmas, with Junior in my hands.
And the family of three became four. Joy in the house multiplied, but taking care of two children is a hard task. Fortunately, both kids have good manners, and it took off a burden for me and Carlos. Life in the house didn’t change that much, and Junior also sleeps in the night, contrary to Catherine’s day sleeping.
Like his sister Catherine, he was a quick learner. My children had spent lots of time watching educational shows. Sometimes, Catherine grudges when I seemed to care more for Junior, but I don’t mind. The graham cake business continues, and in due time, Junior may help his sister and mother make them.
Time passed, and me and Carlos decided that two children is enough. Besides, a boy and a girl would be perfect for a family picture.
Chapter 6: And the Children Grew Up
People will always say something like “terrible two” when mentioning raising their children. It’s quite true for us, and I took it as a challenge. Well, they ran and ran, and catching them was quite an exercise.
They quite mess up a lot, and it put stress on me and Carlos when cleaning everything. Oh, how I remembered the faces of my parents whenever they saw the dirty tablecloths. Me and Carlos’ wet clothes when they splash too much water when bathing. The faces of the visitors when they see the mess in just about every room; scattered toys, misplaced objects, and clothes around every corner.
And so, those times passed. Soon, they talked to each other, giggling and whispering. I wondered what things they could talk about. They soon did things independently, such as using the bathroom, eating, and brushing their teeth. Little by little, they helped in the household chores, making up for the mess they made in their early days.
And then they were sent to kindergarten. Fortunately, Carlos’ aunt ran a school in the city, and we enrolled our children there. In that time, I realized that the children won’t get any younger. So do I.
Junior was more behaved in kindergarten more than Catherine, I observed. Carlos told me that Catherine cried out so loud when she saw her father leaving, and it took around 5 minutes before Carlos could leave the classroom. But Junior quite understood that he will be without his dad for a while, and he didn’t cried much on the first day.
But I have to say that both children excelled in school. The teachers had always noted their good art skills and their desire to learn. Me and Carlos are very happy to have such excellent children, with such strong values.
Then, they completed their kindergarten with flying colors, and me and Carlos were very proud of our children. We also discovered their interest in the arts, and as their parents, we supported their works.
Catherine was the first to go to elementary school. When she went to take her entrance exam, I was there, near the school, all the time. And as unexpectedly as it happened, she made through the exam smoothly.
And days later, Catherine had actually made the entrance exam! It was a Saturday then, and the family went out to the mall the next day. Soon, it was yet the start of another school year for both children, but Catherine will start another chapter of her education.
Me and Carlos agreed then, that I will bring and fetch Catherine in school, and Carlos will do the same for Junior.
Two years have passed, and our kids steadily maintained their progress in school. The graham cake business is booming, and Carlos still has his job. But sometimes, the thought of returning to teaching crossed my mind. Since the both of our children are already studying and require less attention, why can’t I return to the job I once loved?
Months before Junior completed kindergarten, I had talked to Carlos about this thought. He had nothing against this, and I was delighted. And soon came the time, when Junior will take the entrance exam for his elementary school.
Oh, and by the way, Catherine hasn’t been studying well in the past months. Well, I suppose that her brother studying in the same school as her will motivate her in studying better.
Lo and behold, Junior had passed the exam, and we went out to the mall the next day. Soon, Carlos brought both of our children to elementary school. I also decided that this would be my last year as a housewife. I will return to teaching students the next year.
I also decided to close my graham cake business, as I will be returning to teaching. But I will still be making graham cakes for the children.
Chapter 7: Elementary Days
Catherine and her brother are very close to each other, me and Carlos observed. Well, my thought was right, and Catherine was studying very well. I applied to be a teacher at their elementary school, and it seems that my job will push through next year. This year passed through well, and Catherine made it in the top 10!
By the way, I had returned to my teaching job, where I continue teaching Grade 2 students. It has some perks, especially when Junior reached Grade 2. I shared my knowledge to him, and it helped very much in her grades.
Junior was also doing well, and he was very friendly in school. The children are doing their assignments well, just until Catherine slumped. She said she was tired, and then she’s not doing her assignments anymore. I was disappointed by this, and it led to our first fight.
She had failed her Math test, her first one. And of course, I was disappointed by this, especially that I am a teacher. The children had never saw me like this before. Catherine said nothing, and it made me even furious.
It was a fight that led to three days of silence. It was that long, and Carlos and me talked about the problem. In that third day, we all sat for breakfast, and Catherine suddenly said “Sorry, Mom. I’ll do better next time.” Carlos and Junior were then relieved to hear that me and Catherine were finally ok.
From then on, I always tried to help my children in their studies. But of course, not too much, and the children improved. Me and Carlos were always proud parents each and every graduation, and they kept rising on the ranks.
Along the way of their education, there are some bumps and obstacles. There was this one time when Junior said something that he needed the next day so late, Carlos had to be awaken at his sleep and buy those things. And then, Catherine slept so late at night because she wasted an hour doing other things.
After six years of joy and trials, Catherine has finally graduated. She became valedictorian, and everyone in the family was very proud for her, sending messages of congratulations to me and Carlos. Her grandparents even travelled all the way from Pagudpud, just to be with my parents, side by side, in seeing her graduate. Walking down the stage, saying her valedictory speech, and receiving the most-awaited diploma; the six years was all worth it.
After that, and all of the celebrations that happened after, me and Carlos have to think of her high school. Catherine has proven her knowledge and wits, and she passed one of the most prestigious high schools in the country. Me and Carlos, were once again, proud parents as we received another wave of messages of congratulations from our friends and family. Even though the new school is quite far, Catherine wants to explore a great, new school.
While Catherine spends her first days of high school, Junior continues to strive finishing his last years of elementary. He finds those years quite hard, spending hours on studying, especially in Math and Science.
Meanwhile, Catherine enjoys high school, where she always mingles with her friends. Even though she comes home late in the afternoon, she was always telling us a happy story.
She is doing exceptionally well at school, even to the point that she is also amazed at her own work. She rose up the ranks, even though there are a lot of requirements and projects that always stressed Catherine’s head out.
However, as times passed, Carlos told me that he was worried by Catherine’s, and later Junior’s, health. And I have seen that both of our children had been sleeping so late, and I actually want to see them sleeping already when I finished making my lesson plan late in the night.
And finally, we can’t take this situation anymore. While eating on a restaurant one Sunday, I opened up the situation to the children, and how it affects their health. “But Mom, how about you?” Catherine said. How about me? “Well, I’m 40, and you and Junior are just 14 and 11. What a large age difference.” I replied back. Then, our family talk went on to discuss what are the doing aside their assignments, and fortunately, we had come to an agreement.
Well, the children had followed for some time, and Junior had finally graduated from elementary school. Walking up the stage and hearing his name, Junior made us yet again, proud parents. It marked the end of our children’s elementary days. They are not even children anymore; they are already teenagers.
And before I forgot, Junior had passed the entrance examination on the school where Catherine is studying. What a relief, they will still study in the same school!
Chapter 8: High School Days
“First day of high!”, I told Junior while we were waiting for Carlos to fetch the car that will drive us and the children to our own places, at his first day of his high school. I had told this to Catherine before, under the same circumstances. Both children were very excited to see new places, new people, and new beginnings. But unfortunately, Carlos planned to drop me off to my place first before the children; Carlos can really see the children’s excitement all along the trip.
I can see that Catherine can handle the stress in studying high school, but Junior can’t; he always tired and exhausted each and every school day. He even hates P.E., where Catherine enjoys it.
Well, high school calls for hard times. Every other week, either Catherine or Junior will be scolded by either me or Carlos, and scolding children is not fun. At one point, Carlos gushed out all of his anger while we were eating on a restaurant on a Sunday.
Tragedy then struck before the school year ends. Carlos’ mother had suffered a stroke, and it was too late when she was brought to the hospital. We can’t pay her a visit as it was just February, and we will have to travel all the way to Pagudpud to visit her. However, Carlos’ father and brother contacted us; they said that she will be fine.
Then came my mother, who had collapsed after attending mass with my father, and our family. Fortunately, we were there during the incident, or else, my father will have a harder time bringing her to the hospital. Doctors say that her collapse was brought by her hypertension, given the crowded situation of the church.
During the high school years of the children, I’ve been noticing that our relationships have been colder. We were not as close as we used to be. Well, high school calls for hard times.
When Catherine had graduated from high school after four years, we already had distant relationships with each other; it was like our family is on the brink of tearing apart. I continuously told myself then that at least, we’re still a family. But that wasn’t enough.
It was summer time, the time after Catherine graduated. Our family was so cold and so distant, Carlos suddenly got mad and threatened to leave the house if nothing happens. I was crying, and the children quite don’t care. And this incident ended in a talk lasting a few hours. In that talk, me and Carlos used that as our last hope in bringing back our family to life.
And it did. Little by little, we started bonding together, and the fights were much less than before. But it was due time that Carlos’ mother met her fate. Fortunately, it was still summer time then, or else Carlos will be left so disoriented at the situation. We also stayed at Pagudpud for a while, and we attended her funeral, with the whole family.
It was just time for Catherine to go college after we went home from Pagudpud. She chose to study civil engineering, following my father’s footsteps. Luckily, he’s still alive, and he can help Catherine in her studies.
Just weeks before Junior’s graduation, my father suffered a massive stroke, and it ultimately led to his death. He was in the hospital during Junior’s graduation, and my mother was so devastated after his death. They had married for more than 45 years, and it didn’t took long before my mother followed him.
A month later, we found my mother dead in her sleep at a visit in her house.