Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Qualifying the statement.



"No more grandma," said an old woman who I've seen at Filipino parties but never met. The Husband said she greeted him the same way when he welcomed her into the house for the Mama's post funeral service reception.

I imagine the stone-faced woman thought her quip was quite comforting and witty. She reminded me of once-upon-a-time visitors to our home when I was a kid who talked about how fat I was in their language not knowing that I understood what they were saying.

We stood in the backyard. Smiling, I held up my arm and waved at the Mama's garden in full bloom throughout the yard. "Mama's here," I said. "Always."

The woman looked at me, queerly. No doubt she thought I was crazed. After all, I requested "I've got the joy, joy, joy joy down in my heart" for the procession song as we rolled the Mama out of the Catholic Church.


It's the letter Q at ABC Wednesday. Thank you, Roger, Di, Melody, and the rest of the ABCW team for this fun weekly meme. 



Sunday, May 1, 2016

Pedaling Again


I signed up for the 2016 National Bike Challenge, which goal is "to unite 100,000 riders to pedal 75 million miles from May 1, 2016 until September 30, 2016," according to its web site. The challenge has competitions for prizes. It would be nice to get one, but that will only happen if my name is drawn randomly out of the hat. The reason I'm participating is to help maintain my motivation to pedal Tilda-Hilda on a regular basis.

Tilda-Hilda and I started out again the day after the Mama's funeral services. The short uphill ride to the cemetery was simply hard. Pufff, pufff, pufff. Over the next two weeks, we rode a little bit further every day, stopping by to see the Mama and the Daddy at either the beginning or end of the fun.

If I could've done it without hurting myself, I would've pedaled all day. There is comfort in mindless pedaling, as well as seeing the countryside. As it is, I came down with a cold so today is the first time Tilda-Hilda and I have been out in a week. We didn't have to start all over. Puff, puff. I threw in one hill for us to lumber up. On this first day of the challenge, we pedaled 6.4 miles. Hurrah!

By the way, here's the link for the National Bike Challenge. I think you can sign up any time, if you're interested.



Friday, April 29, 2016

Four Weeks Ago


"Mama's gone."

Four Fridays ago, in the early evening, I walked into the kitchen to let the Husband and Molly the Cat know that Mama's spirit had slipped into the ever after.

I had started making dinner. As I put the frying pan on the stove, I had a feeling and I didn't want to know. The Husband and I had been sitting at the kitchen table, talking about the house. How we needed to replace faucets in the kitchen and in the Mama's bathroom. That one day we would need to replace the linoleum and maybe it would be better to take out the carpet and put in a wooden floor. House stuff that neither of us had ever done or been interested in doing. But, at that moment, it all seemed natural for us to do.

With the frying pan on low, I went to check on the Mama. She was warm, but she no longer breathed. She looked quite content. I like to think that the Mama heard us talking in the kitchen and she felt assured that her house would be in good hands and that the Husband and I would be fine. She could now let go of her physical shell.

Four weeks later, the chirping birds, the neighbor's noisy grandchild, another neighbor's barking dog,  lawn mowers, the wind, the passing cars, and nearly everything sound different to my ears. Is it because the Mama's breaths are no long part of what I hear?

Okay.

Okay.

I was going to write that it's probably time for me to start writing about other stuff. Perhaps. I have not completely thrown the blanket over my head, although there are moments that I want to just close my eyes and not think about things that need to get done. There is so much. Today, I told myself everything doesn't have to be done right away. "It'll work out, right?" I asked the Husband. "It'll work out," the Husband said.

Yes, they do.

Four weeks later, the Mama's name is etched on the gravestone that she shares with the Daddy, and the picture of the two of them is already up. I did not expect all that to happen until later in May. For that matter, four weeks ago, I had no idea if the Mama's name would fit on the marker in letters almost the same size, if not the same, as the Daddy's; who would engrave her name; and if I could afford a photo of them to be put up. So, yes, things work out.

I love the photo of the Mama and the Daddy. That was how they looked in 1976 at the Daddy's 71st birthday party. As you approach their grave site, you can see the Mama's smile from far away. I love that, too.



Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The Mama's Motley Crew of Pallbearers

Photo courtesy of Rosalie Phillips

Except for a few instructions from the Mama, I had carte blanche to plan her funeral services. Would I follow the traditional way, which I regard as much too somber, tight-lipped, not a crack of a smile, and full of smelly moth balls? Or, would I follow my heart and let loose with the joy that is life, living, and, most of all, the deep essence of the Mama who denied it so often while she lived?

Was there any doubt that I would do the latter?

At times. Especially after freaking out when I read the what should be's when it comes to funerals, in particular, Ilocano funerals. One superstition, or tradition, is that no family members shall be pallbearers. Bad luck would be theirs otherwise. Before I read that, I had decided to be one of the Mama's pallbearers. I wanted to go the whole nine yards with the Mama. But, maybe I ought to pay attention to the superstition. Then I recalled I was a pallbearer for Uncle Frank several decades back. Did bad things happen afterwards? Sure. Good and wonderful things happened, too. It's called living.

So, I was one of the Mama's six pallbearers. I asked the Husband if he'd like to be a pallbearer, but he declined for reasons neither of us can remember. While we were milling around the mortuary on the day of the funeral, waiting to head to church, the Husband asked," Do you have enough pallbearers?" I told him to check with the funeral guy in charge of our party, who made the Husband an honorary pallbearer, meaning he could walk with us and help with the casket when needed.

Being a pallbearer is very different today. I think the most carrying and lifting that we did was down the steps of the mortuary and then several feet to the hearse. It was possible that the coffin was placed on a gurney-type thing after the steps, and then we wheeled it to the car. I don't remember. We did wheel it from the hearse to the church and back again. I think we, pallbearers, may have taken it by hand from the hearse to the grave site, which was only a few feet.

I'm glad I was one of the Mama's pallbearers. Mostly because I was physically doing something rather than sitting and observing the casket going from one point to the next. I would've found it difficult to merely sit and not to suddenly leave my perch. As a pallbearer, I had a task to complete. I was not going anywhere to cry.

The Mama's spirit was happily surprised, I like to think, that her pallbearers were four guys and three gals. Spring chickens, we were. The Mama loved and respected each and every one of her motley crew of pallbearers—Ernie, Kathy, Jennifer, Dave, Thomas, the Husband, and me.

Photo courtesy of Thomas Treziak

It's the letter P at ABC Wednesday, a fun weekly meme begun by Mrs. Nesbitt and administered today by Roger Green and his ABCW team. Click here to check out the P fun.



Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Over, But Not Out


Hello Dear Readers and Blogging Friends,

Thank you for your notes full of concern and love during my absence. Molly the Cat, the Husband, and I appreciate each and every one of you. I believe the Mama's spirit does, too.

Yes, it's true. I'm sorry to say that the Mama is no longer with us. She left her aged, tired body behind on April 1, 2016 and is now soaring freely and, I verily hope, peacefully and happily through eternity.

So for today's post I give you the Mama's obituary, which I'm linking with the letter O at ABC Wednesday. Please be sure to check out this weekly meme begun by Mrs. Denise Nesbitt and administered today by Roger Green and his ABCW team. 

Frances Domingo Echaore lived to the grand old age of 94. Hollister was her first and only home in the United States, having immigrated from the Philippines nearly 67 years ago with her one-year-old son to reunite with her husband, the late Santiago Echaore.

Born Francisca DeGuzman Domingo, this nonagenarian was born in Urdaneta, Pangasinan on the island of Luzon in 1921 to Ciriaco and Emeteria Domingo. As a child, she loved to climb coconut trees, ride the water buffalo, swim in the canals, and run and skip among the banana trees. She learned at 9 years-old to be responsible when, upon the death of her father, her mother pulled her out of school to care for her two younger brothers. Although her book learning stopped, Frances never stopped learning. She became skilled in dressmaking, cooking, hairdressing, and farming, among many other things. In her early 20s, Frances endured the horror of World War II.

In 1947, Frances married the neighbor's son, a U.S. Army veteran, who had been away for almost 20 years working in Hawaii and California. After their son was born, the young couple decided that opportunities for him and future children would be better in the United States, so Santiago returned to the U.S. and within several months earned money for Frances' and Junior's fare. The mother and child sailed for about 30 days on the U.S.S. Wilson with other U.S. war brides from the Philippines.

In the 1960s, Frances became a naturalized U.S. citizen, of which she was very proud, and she got her first and only job in the seed research industry. She was hired by the SRS Seed Company, which subsequently was purchased several times and became known by other names. Frances turned out to be a plant whisperer. She did not simply have a green thumb. She sported green thumbs and fingers on both hands. Nearly everything she touched grew abundantly. Through her work, Frances took part in getting the stink out of broccoli and inventing the oblong tomato, among other accomplishments.

In 1986, after more than 26 years at the job she loved, Frances retired and enjoyed landscaping her new home, growing fruit trees from seeds of the fruit she ate, and caring for an abundant vegetable garden. Until the last few months of her life, Frances worked diligently, happily, and peacefully nearly every day, regardless of the weather, in her garden. Besides gardening, Frances enjoyed reading, watching game shows, hanging out with Molly the Cat, and, until she could no longer manage the crochet needle, creating elaborate doilies, bedspreads, and table cloths.

Frances always doted on her children and grandchildren. She was proud of them and their successes. Her son, Santiago Echaore, Jr. (Annabelle), retired from a career as a teacher and administrator while her daughter, Susan Echaore-McDavid (Richard McDavid), continues to be an independent writer and editor. Frances had five grandchildren and two great-granchildren.

Along with her deceased husband, Frances lost two daughters, Valentina and Shirley.