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My Mother, My Self

By Myrna LopezBy Myrna Lopez

Mothers and daughters have a dynamic relationship unique from every other. Their bond begins with their gender, with all the nuances and complications attached to it, and because of it. The primary male in both their lives, husband to one and father to the other, plays a part but it is supportive at best.

My mother played a huge role in my universe. She was larger than life and the quintessential life-a-holic. Even at a young age I perceived that she was different. She followed her own path. I later learned that she ran away from the relative security of her childhood home in Dupax, Nueva Vizcaya, to blaze a trail that would take her from a near kidnapping by the HUKS in Plaridel, Batangas, to a life as wife to a soldier, an airman of the Philippine Air Force.

Mamang was ambitious and dreamed of a better life. She did not finish college. But what she lacked in schooling she more than made up with her intuition, inherent business sense, and chutzpah. Her sari-sari (local five-and-dime) store attracted the most customers because she anticipated what our neighbors, both adults and children, wanted. She created a need where there was none. She cornered the market for fresh bananas, and had ‘suki’ (patrons) from the far corners of Fernando Air Base in Lipa, Batangas.

The combination of her strong will and clear purpose were daunting. She had no patience for disorder or filth. I was convinced she could stare down house dust and rodents. She was that scary. She kept a tidy house and expected her children to appear well turned out and well behaved.

She was a paragon who deserved respect and admiration. She had them. But not from me. My day was ruined when friends and family compared me to her. ‘Para ka si Conching’ sent me to apoplexy. I didn’t see the good points everyone else did. I saw a mother who smothered me with rules at every turn  one party per month maximum; no loitering after school, straight home if you please; and by all means bring home the best academic grades.

She told me once that running away from my strict grandfather gave her the freedom she dearly wanted. ‘I was like a horse freed from its corral!’ Well, that’s exactly what I felt when I found work a continent away. Newark, New Jersey was a world both strange and exciting, thousands and thousands of miles away from Cebu. I was finally free and untethered from Conching’s corral.

The tables are turned now. I have two adult daughters who have similar complaints about me. I was known, supposedly, as the strictest mother at Holy Spirit School. ‘Mom, you were scary!’ I also found out how my husband called the house before we arrived from our dates. ‘Heads up, we’re arriving soon. Tidy up.’ Oh, horror of horrors, I have become Conching. Do they cringe whenever they are compared to me? I’m afraid to ask.

Mamang passed away September last year. I spoke to her almost every week until she was hospitalized. Sometimes for no other reason than to make her happy because we had exhausted every topic. And her hearing suffered greatly by then.

Mother’s Day will have been celebrated by the time this issue is published. This is the first year that I will be sending my best wishes to my mother who now resides in a better place. No longer will I be able to hear her voice. But I do know it by heart and can imagine her squeals of delight.

Happy Mother’s Day Mamang. I hope it would make your day to know I have become your clone  a mini Conching. My mother; my self.

Send comments to: myrnamlopez2012@yahoo.com


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6 Responses to My Mother, My Self

  1. sardis erickson

    I moan small giggles reading this article. Oh how wonderful to be like one’s mother. I wanted so much to be like my mother. Outwardly, she was drop dead beautiful and I thought her inner spirit was very social and exuberrant, but alas, I do not resemble at all like my mother.

    I am the mirror image of my Father. I am happy with this of course. He and I were very close right up to him leaving this life. Inside and out, I am my Father’s daughter, indeed.

    Silently, I smiled when I visited my Aunt Ruth (Mama’s oldest sister) who loudly commented how I looked just like Mama, hehehe….finally, in my 50s….I somewhat look like Mama….

    Bless our Mothers! I heard my daughter many a times, say….”Mama, I am just like You”….am not sure if that is a good thing but thus far, I know she is a great Mother to her daughter :) .

    Thanks for sharing this special relationship. My own relationship with my Mother only bloomed in my late 30s….better late than never, thank goodness….She is one terrific Lady!

    • Myrna Montera Lopez

      I so enjoy hearing from you. Your anecdotes reinforce and add even more pathos to my articles. Thank you so much Sardis.

  2. Wendell Cuaderno Uytnegsu Jr.

    Love your column on mother’s & daughter’s…we never realize the good points when people say we are a reflection of our parents. At an early age it is like we feel we are not and embarrassed we are tagged to be lurking in their shadows. Not only till we have a family & children of our own that we do realize what our parents has thought us actually sinks deep within ourselves. And so true they have taught us right. How do we know this? Only when our own children say the same thing we heard over a thousand times no different as when we were growing up. Damn you do write a terrific column…terrific may not be the best word to choose…since I am not a writer. But awesome would best describe it friend

    • Myrna Montera Lopez

      Hi Wendell, thank you. The circle of life completes then regenerates then completes yet again ad infinitum, each generation convinced it has discovered the meaning of life. Hope to hear from you again. With appreciation and thanks. Myrna

  3. Christina Rodriguez Alviedo

    Awesome column finally, I got the chance to get into it. Absolutely beautiful relationship between mother and daughter. Keep up the good work, you are an outstanding writer!!

    • Myrna Montera Lopez

      Hi Tina! I apologize for the late reply. It has been hectic. Thank you so much. Sometimes the dynamics can make or break the bond between mother and daughter. But that is temporary. The umbilical cord is much too hard to break. Again, my thanks.