Cold dark nights and staring at the flickering candle flames make me more contemplative. (It doesn’t really take much,). I was thinking of the times in our lives when we want to go back to -when we feel the safest– times when we did not know what stress or disappointment mean. Those times I will always associate with my parents.
Being the youngest in the family, I think my parents were more protective of me (though they have always been protective of all of us girls). Mama became more protective when I started working. I remember when I was doing late shifts which finished at 2300, Mama and Mila (our helper) used to wait for me in the car even past midnight. Mama never complained. If I was doing a night shift, she would drive me to work too. If I do an early shift, Mama will also be awake by the time I wake up and she used to still prepare my warm milk in the morning and put my vitamins on my plate so I remember to take them. Most mornings either she or Papa drives me to work. I remembered one night when there was power failure that Mama actually fanned me as it was too warm to sleep. I wasn’t even being fussy, she just automatically did it (I was already a faculty member at that time.) Papa used to get worried and angry if I was not home by 21:00. Oh yes. Folks, my curfew was 21:00. Some of my nursing students must have later curfews than me. Group studies and the ‘barkada’ parties (e.g. Christmas parties) were often held at our house as my parents would rather spend money and feed me and my friends than have me go somewhere else. If I was having a group study somewhere else, they would drive me to and fro the venue. This may sound weird and overprotective to most people especially in the western hemisphere of Earth but this is how Filipino parents usually are.
It isn’t that restrictive really. I was allowed to go to parties as long as they know I am with my trusted barkada – whom they know very well and were made of good girls anyway. Mama and Mila used to wait for me and my best friend when we have school parties and programs. I was allowed to go on fiestas as long as I get home by curfew time. I was allowed to go to the class beach outings as long as my barkada was there (this takes a lot of mind conditioning and begging for Mama to let me go though.) I guess as long as I was doing well with my studies, Mama was willing to give me some leeway. Besides, I have never given my parents any cause for concern when I was growing up. (Too much of a good daughter hahaha )
Then I ventured on my own and lived in a foreign country. My Mama was excited for me at the new phase of life. Papa was not that keen and in fact told me that there was no need to go as I already have a good job and was studying for my masters. But I knew that if I was truly to grow up, I needed to leave the comforts of home and venture out as an adult.
I loved my freedom and independence though I will always miss home. I could have transferred to USA where two of my sisters and most relatives are but I opted to stay where I am. I jokingly told our eldest sister that I won’t live in the USA as I will become the youngest sister again whom they will always keep an eye on. She replied that No matter where or how old I am, I will always be the little sister.
But there are times in life when I feel slightly wobbly in my place on this Earth that I long for the comfort of home. Last 2011, when I went home I still remember Papa holding my arm when crossing the street. He was still trying to guide me. When we were in the mall, I noticed that when I decided to look in the shoe stores on my own that Papa (who was just diagnosed with the big C) and my male cousin (who is like a brother to us) were standing outside the store to keep an eye on me. They were trying to look relaxed and were talking but at the same time,I know , they were keeping an eye on me as they were moving along as I moved from one store to the next. It was funny considering that I was an adult woman who sometimes go home past midnight in UK yet here I was being treated like a little girl again. I told them that I will be fine and that I am too old to be kidnapped in a busy mall but they followed me anyway
I will always remember how loved I have been most of life. I will always appreciate all the loving attention of Mama up to now. I will always cherish the memory of Papa’s holding hand in trying to protect and guide me in crossing a busy street. These things help me remember that at least most of my life I was loved and cherished unconditionally…Without buts or what ifs. I was simply loved.