Mother’s Hands

Mother’s hands

are strong, stubby, smooth and soft.

It touched my forehead
When a fever burned
Massaged my back when I could not sleep
While white ladies floated in my imagination.
It gently caressed me when something hurt,
From a stomach ache,
To a wounded knee from a daring fall
from rollerblading a downward slope.

When I was a little girl
my eyes gazed at her fingers
gracefully scribbling her signature at the cashier counter
watched her draw smiling faces and trees and houses and mountains
observed her cut apple peels
And knead dough for apple pies
Her hands knew everything
For everything her hands touched
Was perfect and polished
Incomparable to the works of my tiny, incapable hands.

Until I learned script at 3rd grade
My drawings turned from sticks to shades and shadows
My fingers learned to strum the guitar at 13
And by college
It could tinker scales and arpeggios on the piano
– eyes closed.
My hands shook President Obama’s
It has traveled far and wide
Packing and unpacking suitcases
From place to place,
(searching for fingers that could intertwine with mine)

It now knows where to go
And which finger to raise
For specific and special occasions.

But many times
My own hands betray me
They have played the wrong notes
wrote terrible poems
Shook hands with politicians
Grabbed things
That were not good for me
And made a terrible mess of myself.
It has learned how to cover my face
Rub my eyes
And wipe my own tears.
Many times,
Cold and clammy,
My hands shake from anxiety
Of the future
Of not knowing what to do,
what to build
Or who and what to keep.

I turn to my mother’s hands
Imperfect hands that
made its own mistakes
And cleaned up
Much of life’s dirt.
Yet still massages my back
On sleepless nights
When demons start to dance in my mind;
Opens the door for me
When I come home at 2am,
Drained and tired, heartbroken
And holds my hands together
When I have lost faith.

My mothers hands
Are stubby, smooth and soft
A little bit wrinkled now, yes
But still with unyielding strength and beauty
I take her palm and trace the lines and curves
That tell the story of her fate
Somewhere in her palms,
I look up to an invisible Almighty,
I’ve been given such honor
To be written in her destiny.


My Fathers Day (June 2012)

Last night, my brothers and I were eating dinner with our dad. Its been awhile since we’ve had dinner with him. Things have changed a bit ever since my mom has stopped talking to him which was two months ago. Also, Ive been busy with rehearsals with Madz and I come home late so theres really no opportunity to have dinner with him. Actually, its not always the rehearsals that haveĀ  kept me from being at home by 8. I sometimes have dinner or dessert with one or two friends. I take advantage of the fact that my dad knows rehearsals end in the evening but doesnt know exactly what time. Only but a few of my friends know what happens if I come home late other than for ‘business’/relevent purposes.

Ive been wanting to tell him for almost a week that I’ve been casted to go to Indonesia and Malaysia with the Madrigal Singers. Been asking my mom and brother how I’ll tell him and when I would tell him. Being in the perfect setting of us having a peaceful(more of silent) ‘family’ dinner, I decided I would tell him last night. I took a deep breath and a spoonful of rice on my plate.

“Daddy, pupunta po ang Madrigal sa Indonesia. Na-cast po ako para doon.”

(“Daddy, Im going to Indonesia. I was casted to go there”)

and then silence. Im not sure if I heard a grunt.

“Aalis po ng June 25.” (“We leave June 25.”)

And he kept eating his meal as though I said nothing and continued to watch the CNN news as though he were very immersed in it.

The last time I was going out of the country was when I played for the MCHS Glee Club for the World Choir Games in China 2 years ago. He went as far as calling the assistant principal to make sure the weather there was in good condition and he demanded to know what the state of the weather was.(He heard from CNN news that parts of China were flooded.) If he had no decent answer, he wouldnt let me go. He even asked if the other parents knew what the state of China was and even hinted to cancel the whole thing. He was assured for more than 3 times that we were going to a place in China that didnt get hit by the storm. The assistant principal called me and said that if my dad was that worried, they would prefer not to take me with them to China. That was just days before our flight. I was 23.

Now you can imagine how much it was of a shock to have silence as an answer. Nothing. Its fascinating how nothing can mean more than it was intended to mean. I take it that he has given up on reprimanding and questioning me. To tell you the truth, Im kind of happy about it. That he stopped scolding me and questioning things I do. But sort of sad in a way that he doesnt care. But between being overly protective, paranoid and sometimes distrustful, or him not caring, I no doubt prefer the latter. Theres so much drama and tears involved when I am questioned like a suspect in a court hearing, specially when I am usually just an innocent bystander.

So today incidentally, is the commercial fathers day and I have mixed feelings about it. I greeted him this morning and he grunted or made a grunt-like noise to acknowledge. My Kuya bought a Parker pen as a gift and left it on the sala table for him to see. I read the card and it wrote:

happy fathers day. TY for the guidance, support and lve (you can barely see the “O” on my brothers scribbled handwriting.)
JB, Maricel, Ben and Jojo

Nice going. Not a hint of emotion or sentimentality. I dont know if my dad read it since until now he hasnt opened the gift.

We ordered Savory for lunch since my mom said he liked it. And my dad had our youngest brother buy Crispy pata, Kare kare and sisig for dinner. It was just weird, our fathers day. No one talked around him and if anyone did, only in soft and short phrases, or audible whispers.

I spent most of my day reading “The Perks of a Wallflower” and then sleeping until 5pm. I played tonight for the mass and I was happy that the presiding priest today was Fr. Jboy Gonzales. I have always loved his sermons because its always thought provoking and made you reflect on your life or the relevant happenings and issues in our society. Tonight’s sermon was no different. He said that if there is one thing we should remember in his sermon for the whole mass, it is this:

Awe and Wonder.

From there he related it the gospel of Mark and then somehow transitioned to fathers day and narrated some of his experiences with his father and as a father – in a priestly sense, of course. He said something like, ‘tonight, lets us look at our fathers the way we look at the stars – with awe and wonder.’

And I thought of my dad. I’ve always looked at him with something close to awe and wonder. Confusion. There were so many things I did not agree and understand about him. Generation gap, culture gap, philosophical gap, gender gap, perspective gap, personality gap. You name it, we got it.

I would like to make my father wrong and point out all his mistakes in this blog entry but that is unbecoming of a daughter who has a father who has provided for her well and tried to raise her perhaps the best way he knew how. I am still grateful to be his daughter despite everything. I will instead say this. My father is not perfect, and I know I am not perfect, and if everybody just accepted that then maybe we can leave them as they are and we can all learn from our own mistakes and imperfections. No one can change you but yourself. I believe that is what I want my dad to realize. That he can’t change us by scolding us or pointing out all our mistakes and flaws to our faces and saying sharp words that only pulls our spirits down instead of inspiring us.

But then I realized, it is also something I have yet to learn. I can’t change my father. He is the way he is because his own experiences, good and bad. And it is unfair if I expect him to change and not change myself. We must meet somewhere in the middle. But right now, we are on opposite ends. Maybe silence is that best solution for now. Because maybe in silence, you can hear yourself more and your hear others more. And if not, silence just lets you be.

So I guess his silence was probably the best response. I’m glad he is letting me be, regardless whether he cares or not. But I’d like to think he cares even just a little bit. Maybe in time, we will see things the same way. But for now, silence. Waiting and silence.

Happy fathers day, Daddy. I hope you are happy because despite everything, you deserve to be happy.