Friday, January 06, 2006

love and be loved

she was the only one i knew who always greeted me with a kiss on the lips when we were much younger. while i, proud kid that i was, would somehow frown or purse my lips at her gesture.

"Good morning!" her cheerful voice carried out to the street where we live, just right beside each other. she was really a burst of sunshine.

she was a passionate, forgiving, and affectionate woman. at times i envy how she can just toss all cares to the wind and embrace everybody and anybody into her life.

she held our families together, especially during those moments when we all wanted to kill each other from sheer frustration and anger (one of the perks of having relatives as neighbors).

although my papa is currently the head of his family, she, being his older sister, still managed to put him in his place when needed.

no matter what her current financial status was, she never failed to give us gifts on our birthdays and during Christmas. "Pasensya na sa regalo ko ha. Galing naman yan sa puso," were her favorite words of late. ("Please bear with my gifts. At least they come from the heart").

"Gelli!" for the past year, she has taken to calling me by my youngest sister's name (by mistake, of course). it was one of our favorite jokes and her only defense was that my sister and i are beginning to look alike (right).

even at the age of 56, she was still a groovy dresser, a true fashionista. she believed that a woman should always look her best.

during family gatherings, we always relied on her to keep the ball rolling. she could dance, sing, and party like crazy, just to keep all of us entertained.

she was such a shutterbug, constantly insisting that we have a group photo (hm, my papa's family is really a trigger happy bunch). how the camera loved her! she had the funniest poses and her smile always captured the viewer.

she was the life of the party.

and as i gazed at her lifeless form, i still could not believe that this quiet, unsmiling, and motionless woman was her.

i half expected her to suddenly burst out laughing and exclaim, "Gotcha!"

but she remained still.

last january 3, i got a phonecall that left me numb and dazed.

Tita Lina, our favorite aunt, was killed while crossing the street. a speeding van crashed into her, killing her on the spot. though no one from the family saw the incident, the witnesses said the collision was so strong that she was tossed to the other end of the street.

the news was so sudden. until now, it's still hard for us to really absorb what happened.

Tita Lina did everything with style. leave it to her to leave this earthly place with a bang.

the wake began yesterday. i expected a lot of people but i am still overwhelmed by the throngs of people who came to pay their respects. and that was just on the first day.

it was heart-warming to see how many people love her. i could imagine her grinning from ear to ear and joke, "O, ang ganda ko pa rin ano??" ("O, i'm still beautiful no??")

i met her high school classmates, her former officemates, her co-teachers, and acquaintances who just wanted to say good-bye. we trade stories, each ending in some fiasco that my tita did to make us laugh or cry.

as our other relatives came, i realized that this has been one of the biggest reunions for us in years. EVERYONE was there. if it wasn't a wake, we would have been partying til early morning.

we pored over photo albums that i didn't realize my tita collected, even albums of pictures from her earlier years. our poor parents were teased relentlessly, particularly during the "Flower Power" era. one of my uncles even sported long hair, complete with the white blazer and pants, and hot green shirt. for the first time in years, our families genuinely laughed together.

it was as if my tita set us up to get us all back together again. tsk, tsk, tsk, how typical of her.

while i was browsing through her HS yearbook, the captions under my tita's photo caught my eye.

goal : to be a teacher
motto: to love and be loved

and if that day was any indication of how Tita Lina has spent her life, then she has, indeed, truly lived.

No comments: