I do not really brood about dying. But it crosses my mind, now and again. It makes sense to think about it, death being one of life’s few certainties, the others being taxes and change.
Thus have I made a living will – simply a dos-and-don’ts list for when or just in case – God forbid – I could no longer express my will as to advance health care I get to receive. (Example Do feed me by nasal tube if I temporarily couldn’t swallow my food; don’t and I mean doncha ever slash my windpipe just to ease my breathing.)
Thus have I composed my own (tentative because a bit too mushy) epitaph – “She looked for the meaning of life… and found love.”
And now I want to make sure I am making memories. Happy, funny, delicious memories that would be the stuff of family conversations long after I’d have gone.
In other words, I want to be remembered laughing.
No, silly, I don’t mean a remembrance of laughing me or me laughing. A laughing image of me would be hard to conjure.My smile is really a smirk.And I have this annoying habit of suppressing laughter, no thanks to an early blemish on a front tooth, which though long ago corrected has left an incorrigible tendency to avoid showing teeth at all cost.
More to the point, I want my family and friends to laugh laugh laugh when they think of me.
I want to be associated with things funny and happy and quirky.
Like my penchant for getting lost.
I want them to chuckle when they say: “Remember when mom got lost when we went on pilgrimages to Antipolo, to Agoo? Remember how she spent the night in a stranger’s house in Agoo, sleeping on the floor, and then taking the first bus to Manila the next morning?” And someone would probably add, giggling: “She got lost, too, shopping in Mega Mall.” Hopefully they will forget their mom had the temerity to get angry and scold them and insist THEY were the ones who strayed.
I want them to roll on the floor laughing when they recall my fashion style that dotes on shoulder pads, blouses worn back side front, stirruped pants, buttoned up collars, passionate-red lipstick, and a fluffy “banged” hairdo. Surely, someone would remark how I’d get pikon if anyone so much as snickered at the piquancy of my wardrobe. They had no way of knowing then — had they — that they could laugh their butts off, with permission, when the time comes.
They should also remember, smiling and with matching lip-smacking, my lengua, kare-kare and embutido – rated the best in the world by a six-person, panel of tasters, never mind that they are biased and possibly intimidated by sharp looks from the cook.If I get lucky, they would also drool for my deep, dark, mmmmmoist chocolate cake, never mind that it is unevenly layered, sloppily glazed and iced and always in danger of toppling over.
I am sure they would get hysterical recalling how on one occasion, while intending to replenish kare-kare in a foodwarmer at a party held at home, I poured a bowlful of lengua instead. Thus was born a “fusion dish” that would forever be associated exclusively with my cooking: “Karengua.”
A quick survey of my children’s memories told me they remember the mom of their youth:for unfailing Friday night pasalubongs (that could vary from hopia to belekoy to doughnuts to siopao depending on the state of her temperament and wallet); for shopping trips that usually ended at Goldilocks; for Christmas gifts that usually overreached her capacity to buy.
And wouldn’t they guffaw when they remember one Christmas I got remote-control cars months ahead of the holidays. How I kept them in what I thought was the most out-of-reach hiding place. How they discovered the toys and then stealthily played with them weeks before Christmas, with mom in the office blissfully ignorant that the surprise gifts have been prematurely found and pre-empted.
They would, of course, also remember unsavory things, like her being pikon when corrected, her tendency not to listen to explanations, and her uninspired housekeeping– but these are of course to be glossed over.
These days, I try (and often succeed) not to impulsively vent out when I get pissed out. I put brakes on my tendency to nag, scold, criticize, complain, whine.
I have come to realize – I hope not too late — that motherhood is all about building memories. Memories not of a perfect mother, but of a fallible, all-too-human, funny-without-trying mom.