“The purest form of happiness that you will experience in your lifetime, is the happiness knowing that you are loved without expectations”
|Photo by WeVe1|
The sun scorched the school’s balcony where Garet stood. It was almost noon, and everything around her seemed bright. She found joy in watching the garden and the children playing, not minding the heat. At a young age, she grew up babysitting children who have become very prominent members of society. Some may have forgotten her growing up, but she has never forgot them. She loved kids. And she loved me.
Garet would begin her day at dawn, when the roosters would beg the sun to come out. She makes breakfast for the family and prepares coffee with beans from her own backyard. Breakfast was simple but it was always filled with happiness and with love. Like any loving wife and mother, she would carefully attend to her duties and her children before heading out to town on foot. It was roughly about three kilometers of walking, but she never complained.
It was the first day of kindergarten and I eagerly waited for her. I have always found comfort walking alongside her to school, as she carefully guided each step I took. My parents had to work the entire day and I had the privilege of coming home with her after school. I didn’t mind the long walk or the midday sun. I was always happy to be in the middle of the sugarcane fields and I would soon memorize the names of the sakadas working these fields. Her home was my playground. It always smelled of roses and sugarcane. I would find myself asleep on her lap after a healthy lunch of homegrown vegetables.
In Igpanulong, where Garet lives, money is of no value. God has abundantly blessed the land with fruit trees, clean water, freshwater fish and kind people. There were times that we would have lunch by the river and she would let me swim until my frail body got tired. As a child I started to dream big dreams looking at the sky with my back pressed against the sandy river bank. Falling asleep under trees made me realize how happy and simple my childhood was, and she made sure that I was always happy and loved. She would bring me home every afternoon just in time before my parents got home.
Garet never grew tired of taking care of me. I was already in grade school and she never failed to bring me to school even if she was ill. She would simply brush my worry aside with a smile and her reassuring hug that everything will be alright. She was my source of joy when I got very low test scores. She would go out of her way to talk to my teacher, even my classmates to convince them to be extra patient with me. She stood by me even in the most humiliating situation a child could possibly endure, and we just laughed all the way home talking about how I peed my pants in school.
She might not have understood fractions, subject and verb agreement, or balarila. She might not have adequate scientific knowledge or remember important dates in history. Nonetheless, she taught me kindness and respect. Most importantly, she taught me to love without bounds. My capacity to love is only limited by her unselfishness, her pursuit for happiness, and her passion for life. I have always loved her then, and I don’t think I will ever stop loving her.
As I grew older, I became more independent. I began to see less and less of her, and she has moved on to take care of my sister and my other cousins. In the very few moments that I do see her, it would always be in that corner of the school balcony, gaze fixed at the garden watching the children play. It is not that I have stopped needing her, it’s just that I fear that some of her daily activities involving taking care of us would also affect her health. I would only see her on Sunday mornings when she never fails to stop by to give me and my sister our ration of cookies from her stash. Most times we would refuse because we wouldn’t want her spending money on us, but it just gives her joy to provide a semblance of happiness in whatever way she can. Because of that, I have learned to eat only those particular brands of biscuits that she buys.
Garet has always been exceptionally proud of me and my accomplishments. I could only hope that I do justice by not bringing myself down from the pedestal she has put me. But I am not perfect, and despite having brought up well, I was bound to make mistakes I would soon regret. I spent lesser time with her even more and I could only count those times only to wish that I should have been with her more. And in those times that I would walk beside her, she would always tell me that she was afraid that she might stumble and fall. It broke my heart, and I could only tell her in a harsh voice that I will never allow that. I never wanted her to see me cry.
A February morning broke the news of her passing. It was one of those moments of dreaded silence and hurt that one can only bear for himself. I could not talk about it and I didn’t want to talk about it. I stopped eating those particular brands of biscuits she would buy for us. I haven’t eaten them since then, nor will I ever find the strength to even look at them. Flashbacks of her standing in the school balcony smiling, are forever etched and immortalized in my mind. I had to convince myself that she was on a long vacation and hasn’t returned.
I had to summon whatever strength I had left to be with her, but I could not bear to see her lifeless body. I tried my best not to cry, but I found myself sobbing on my father’s shoulder in front of a crowd. I was not ashamed to show emotion for the woman who has spent her entire life taking care of us. And even up to now, I cry a lot when I miss her. And I do miss her.
The sun scorched the school’s balcony where Garet stood. It was almost noon, and everything around her seemed bright. She found joy in watching the garden and the children playing, not minding the heat. She loved kids. And she loved me with a love that will echo into eternity.