August. Summer peaks. Parks are full. Dogs and kids are stinky and happy. Ice cream is a kid’s best pal while the adults cool off with their beer, gin and tonics. And here, as life is bounces everywhere, it all comes full circle. My Aunt Priscilla Cruz Franciso, my second mother growing up, left her physical body on the 13th of August, 2012.
She was my mother of affection. She was the first person who told me I was beautiful, spoke of features in my face which made me feel slightly elevated than what I normally feel about myself. When your mother is, for all intents and purposes, a beauty queen (cover for Liwayway, a famous magazine in the
Philippines; muse in University of the )
you cannot help but, being her daughter, feel like an ugly duckling next to
her. I never liked to fall asleep knowing my Kaka (Aunt) was mad or upset at
me. It made me miserable inside and out. I would crawl out of my mosquito net
and snuggle next to her as she slept, slightly snoring, oblivious to my
presence. All was right with the world once I found my place there. Philippines
Life, in all its magnificent complexity, brought us to that place of separation. I migrated to the
with my parents and three siblings. Guilt, sadness, anger and confusion all
balled up in the 19 years of my young life got shipped out of tropical warmth
into the cold, winter Eastern shores of New Jersey. Questions of self that
never needed to be asked came screaming at me from all directions. Questions,
silent and loud, popped up like mushrooms from every nook and cranny after a
rain storm. How do I leave the woman who held me the most? Why did it have to
be? Why? How could God not have given this woman I loved so much a life of her
own? A man to love and have children with and eventually grow old with? United States
Into the womb of the universe I went. It was dark and I was lost. I had only questions, tears and doubt. I felt only the injustices of life as it swept me along its path. The voice in my head is of being a victim to everyone and everything. And then, little by little, without my knowing it I began to see, be ‘given’ the answers. Small specks of light peeking here and there until it showered me. I wept this time but for the opposite reasons. I got the why’s of my life. They came in packets of life experiences over a period of years. But came they did. With it the understanding of how no one is a victim. Ever.
When your mother believes the complete opposite of what you do and she insists you believe it too, there will be a parting of ways harder than the physical one. And so it was with my Aunt Priscilla and I. Years ago, when I came to the realization that we could never meet on the same grounds or ever even have a 20 minute conversation that was emotionally healthy, I had to choose to let her be free to be. I could not wish my version of happiness on one I say I love. Love allows another how they want to be.
She never had children of her own but it was she who gave me the gift of maternal affection. She only finished high school and yet it was she who taught me how children are little people. Treat them as such and you’ll be surprised at the results. She always knew and told my mother that kids don’t care about the school they’re sent to or the clothes they wear. They want their mother’s arms around them more than anything in the world. She kissed me so many, many times and hugged me so warmly and joyously. She packed it all in me. I felt beautiful and special in her arms. Always. Thank you, Kaka. I love you. You must know now that all the children who, though never came from my own body, have been loved the way you have loved me. They come running to me in all colors: brown, white and yellow. Loved they all feel. Beautiful they all are…..
by Resident Writer, Marie Aunio