Farewell, Mama

Gone, but never so
Free – that we know
From sorrow and pain
Our tears, restrain
For joy, for peace
That you found bliss
From mortal shackles, fly
I cannot help but cry
Yet in hope
Blinded, I grope
The great unknown
My heart’s groan
To see you again
Beautiful and then
Restored, renewed
Happy as we should
Without fear or worry
Or e’en a hint of hurry
With each embrace
And story of grace
A world of smiles
Of wonderful whiles
But now, we grieve
Yet faith, believe
This gloom to pass
And be what was
Though years and day
Yet have to learn to stay
I will sing with my all,
It is well with my soul.

To this date, I have yet to find out the exact details of how my father met my mother. But whatever the circumstances that brought them together, I thank God that I was blessed with her through the brief passage of my childhood.

She was just an ordinary mother. And that’s what made her unforgettable.

Despite the fact that my father was better at a lot of things, it was from her that I learned a lot. From reading books, learning to speak English, playing chess— she was my companion and friend. I especially prefer her because she was a good sport; my dad was too competitive, but I enjoyed playing with my mom because I could beat her at chess and other board games, and she was a fun rival.

She would involve us in the kitchen, where I learnt how to love the wonders and pleasures of good cooking. I love how she explained the way spices work, how she demonstrated the amazing transformation of colors whenever we pour calamansi juice on a boiling pot of cocido. I miss the time where she would hand us forks, so my sister and I can take turns poking a large piece of ham to cure it. And the homemade pork and beans! Oh, that was heavenly! She would always prepare my “catsup rice” (half bottle of catsup mixed with rice) during my tantrum days just so I would eat. And she’d even let us lick the icing from her baking tools whenever she’s done making cakes.

I would always remember her on sick days — how she would force me to take that detestable Biogesic by dissolving it on a spoon with water and sugar. How she gave me courage to go to the dentist because I’m too afraid of needles. How she’d diligently scrub me with warm water whenever I’m feverish.

I never got to talk to her about my crushes, my love life (and failures), or any of my teenage angst.

When I was 8 years old, my mother developed clinical depression. Some even said it was schizophrenia. It was a long nightmare.

By the time her mental condition stabilized, I was too busy enjoying my life as a teenager. Or hiding through my adolescent stage.

It was only recently that I got to talk to my sister about our mother, and found out some trivia I never knew or realized.

How she was an active community member during our younger years. She would initiate our neighborhood to organize fun activities, like Easter Egg Hunts — and even spearhead its planning and execution. It reminded me of distant memories where my mother would tag us along on a rabus — sort of a neighborhood cleanup project. It was hard work, but I had fun memories of it. When she came to know Christ, she would join crusades and even open our home to Bible study groups.

I could not blame my mother for what befell her, nor can I fault her for her behavior during the peak of her mental illness.

Because even during her craziest days, she still would do her crazy things out of love for us — misguided and deluded, but still motivated by her strong concern for us.

When she had a stroke in 2006, I could not bear to see her so frail and vulnerable. I always liked to remember her being strong. How else could she win my father’s stubborn heart? I shied away for the last seven years — because I did not know how to face her. And when I did try to visit, she felt like a shadow of her old self — a shriveled facsimile of the mother who raised me with undaunted principles of love, family, friendship.

I never learnt how to communicate like she did.

I never learnt how to express like she did.

She was an ordinary mother. But she was special.

And now she’s gone.

• • •

In memory of my dearly beloved mother:


Ma. Luisa Palenzuela Patrocinio
May 6, 1951 — October 31, 2013

You are no longer fettered to your sorrowful body. No longer a slave to pain, to tears, to worries, to fears, to heartaches, to unfulfilled dreams and wishes. You are finally free from suffering. You have finally found rest and peace in His presence.

I just hope that I could make you proud — to be the man you can proudly call your son.

Thank you for all the memories—

The happy ones, that helped build my foundations of love and faith.

The sad and painful ones, that helped strengthen my core

And the awesome ones, too. Even some crazy memories can be fun.

We will miss you, mama.

Rest well, and stay beautiful.


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