Yesterday, I attended the burial of Tita Josie, my mom's sister and our family's "Mother Hen". Not having a family of her own, Tita was always there for all her nephews and nieces. Espicially us, me, my brother Ian, cousins Nainah and Mel, who were the first batch of pamangkins.
I'll always remember her for being a "Taray Queen" (she would even make Maricel Soriano blush)who was always there for us no matter what. As kids, we were always bugging her (calling her in the office) to buy us (the four of us) new toys and she'd always say "puñeta kayo, pabili kayo ng pabili" but when she comes home, she'll aways have the toys that we asked her to buy.
As we were growing up, she became more of a mother to all of us. She was the one who always cooked during special occasions, the one with the coolest and most thoughtful gifts, the one who helped us whatever way she can, even typing our school projects. She was someone you could count on to be there no matter what.
I know it sounds as if she's the type who'd spoil us, but she'd put us in our place whenever we do something wrong. I learned a lot from her, including how to love my work and how to work hard. During high-school, she took me in for a summer job program for students in Dutch Boy Phils (where she worked and finally retired from). She didn't give me any special treatment. She would even say that I should look for something to do even whenever I have some idle moments.
When I stayed in my lola's house in Makati where she lived, I always counted on her to open the gate whenever I come home very late. When she retired and had more time in her hands, she'd do the laundry (even mine), prepare breakfast, lunch and dinner and whatever chore that was needed to be done.
She would text us weather reports whenever we travel, call us to check if we got home safely and she even texts us lotto results.
Almost two years ago, we found out that she had cancer. Stage 4 cancer that already spread out in most of her organs. She never told us that she was in pain or was feeling bad or weird so when the we found out, we were really shocked. I think she already knew she was sick, but never told us so we won't worry about her.
After the operation, her condition became worse and we all saw it. From a figure of a healthy, athletic woman who played tennis and bowling, her body was quite literally reduced to skin and bones in a matter of months. Sometimes I didn't want to go to my lola's house in Makati because I didn't want to see her like that. Whenever we were there, she'd still be her usual self but physically, we could see that she was getting weaker and weaker.
Last Sunday morning, I got a text from my brother Simon that Tita passed away. When I read his text, all I could say was "oh, shit!". After making several calls, I broke down in the arms of my wife. I couldn't help myself. It's hard to lose someone so close. Someone who was always there for me. Someone I loved for as long as I can remember.
I was in her wake daily as was most of our family. We finally laid her to her final resting place yesterday. And as I saw her coffin slowly being laid down, I couldn't help but remember all the times that we spent. All the things that she did for us. All the lessons that I learned from her. And as I threw the white flower on her grave, all I could say to her was: Thank You.
People say that it will all sink in after the funeral. It's true. Before going back home, I ate dinner at my Lola's house and I sat at the kabisera where I usually sit. I looked to my left where my Tita's bed was located and for the first time, I didn't see her there. Only then did everything sink in. At that moment, I realized that she was no longer there for us.
With everything she's done for us and for all her friends, I'm sure she's with God now.
We all love you, Tita. Thank you for everything.