One of my childhood memories was you treating me to a painit which is typically puto dipped in hot, sticky tsokolate. I had the habit then of squatting on the bench we sat and you’d get amused. You would treat me for pizza whenever you would get a loan from the credit union. Or bring me linuyang or linusak whenever you got back from a trip to the wet market.
You were my ninang and even as a child I knew you were hard-pressed on money. Your husband drove our family tricycle or painted houses on the side and you would sell banana cue and orange juice near the school where I studied. I didn’t expect a gift from you but one Christmas Eve you secretly handed me a hundred-peso bill. As I reminisce about that day I realize that maybe giving me that money entailed a few sacrifices on your part. I will be forever grateful.
But then you got sick. I was 11 or 12 then. We thought we were going to lose you. I remember I didn’t go visit you even though your house was just right beside ours. I wanted to remember you as the lively and healthy aunt who loved to eat and treat her pamangkins. You survived that sickness but they had to take away all of your breasts. You were never the same after that. The hefty weight was gone. You stopped your small business and with it the free treats. I didn’t complain. I was just glad you were alive.
Then you got diabetes. Last Saturday your left leg was amputated. I thought maybe that would aid in your recovery but I was wrong. We lost you two days after the amputation. They said it was cardiac arrest. Was it triggered because you could no longer endure the pain? Or was it because your two eldest children didn’t come visit you when you got hospitalized thrice in a span of four months?
Back in January when I left for the airport, I kissed and hugged you goodbye. I remember someone asking when I was coming back to visit. I said in late June to attend to my niece’s 4th birthday. Now I will be coming home earlier than promised. But you would no longer be there to welcome me at the airport. I’m going to miss that.
Your death saddens me but it also gives me comfort that you at last is free of the excruciating pain you may have endured these past few months. You have moved on to the next life and I do hope that that life would be much better than the life you had lived. God knows how much you suffered.
And please don’t worry about Rachelle. We will take care of her. I will take care of her. I promise you that. I’m proud of her Mama Tit. While her siblings went on out-of-the-country trips or went out on dates, she stayed by your side until your death. She tended your wounds and ensured that you took your medicine at the right time. She often would break down in sobs whenever money ran out to buy for your meds. All these at the age of 20.
Tomorrow, I will be flying home to attend to your wake and funeral. I will be coming home to say goodbye for the last time. We will miss you, Mama Tit. I love you. I never had the chance to say that. Rest in peace now.