MOTHERS THAT MADE ME

MOTHERS THAT MADE ME

Written by Jeannie Javelosa

 

Mother’s Day comes around the corner and thoughts turn to mom. What would I be without her? When as a child, her protective nature sheltered my world into one so safe and secure. Mom was and is always wonderful with babies and children. Her natural nurturing instincts are there for the small, vulnerable, the homeless, the sad, etc…name it, mom would feel for them.

And she dreams. This is where I learned to make dreams, create them and live them. Through her creativity and her artistry, she made me and my sisters express ourselves: piano, ballet, foreign languages, cooking classes! In youth she would dress me up in laces and puff sleeves, constantly reminded me to be proper. From her I learned the finer things of life, art, jewelry, boogie (!) practice using a doorknob. From mom, my artistic nature finds the best expression as she was and continued to be my biggest rah-rah fan. If she could buy all my paintings, my books, all my artistic output, all the stocks in both ECHOstore and GREAT Women, she would!

And dancing! How we both share this passion for dancing…she doing a mean Argentine Tango when she could still “trip the light fantastic”. As dancers, mom is the lyrical and I am the bravura. This pretty much sums up the opposites we are. But in the honing of the opposition is the learning to take the best from the other. So today, I go to mass with her, and she comes to watch sunsets with me while I sip my red wine.

Dearest mom, what would I be without you? Because of you, in spite of you, despite you, alongside you, you have mirrored a molding of my personality to one of strength, defining the Feminine as we both go through our life together. For after all, the Feminine is both of us combined, soft and yielding, dreamy and artistic, hard-headed and steadfast in what we each want.

But wait! Mother’s Day for me would not be complete without mentioning my grandmother Lola Purita, my father’s mom. I grew up summers with her in Jaro, Iloilo City in the beautiful expansive wooden house next to the railways. As her oldest grandchild, I was often with her. It is to her that I owe happy provincial memories of summer childhood. Lola was a quiet, gentle woman who raised eight children alongside my lolo. I remember taking long windy walks with her in the “asinan” or salt farms. She was an entrepreneur, a businesswoman stemming from her Chinese roots. She taught me how to be industrious and enjoy work. At ten, I was helping her pack tablets in packages being sold in her small “botica” below the mother house. Or she would assign me to count the number of men carrying all the salt sacks being stored in the warehouse. Or weigh and grade fresh organic egg produce as free range chickens run around. During harvest season, our fruit trees produced bountiful chicos, mangos, lanzones that would line the floor, in “kaing” after “kaing” of produce. And sacks of rice filled the warehouse too. I remember sleeping in her stately Ah Tay wooden bed under a soft mosquito net, seeing my reflection across mirrors on giant wooden cabinets, or taking my siesta, lulled by the afternoon breeze, on wooden protruding ledges on the capiz windows.

Her kitchen was a joy–wonderful simple tasty food made of the freshest of ingredients. I learned to cook with lola with her dictum: fresh ingredients always. She was already a locavore, practiced farm-to table even before it was called that. It was after all, a way of life then.

Today when I sit in ECHOstore, I think of lola and the super-sustainable practices she was about and am happy I am living it. Today, when I sit on lola’s Ah Tay bed, and look across at antique wooden cabinets, I take pride in cultural heritage as a curator. I miss her so. Today, when I sit in the GREAT Women showroom, I think of mom and how she loves the textiles and clothing our community of weavers produce. From lola’s quiet entrepreneurial spirit, to laces and puff sleeves of mom, I take on slacks, stilettos and the world. Yet somehow, despite our differences, these mothers have given me parts of me today. What would I be without them?! Happy Mother’s Day to the memory of Lola Purita, and to mom, an embrace.

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