08 April 2010

A Conversation On Post-It Notes.

This weekend, my mom is coming home from a 2-month stay in the Philippines, where she took care of some family business. The passage below was originally written and posted 12 October 2008 on another blog, but I wanted to repost here in an effort to commemorate how much she has been missed.

Nay went through some successful oral surgery about a week ago, and thankfully her road to recovery has been steady and unmarred with complications. As a result though, she's been in some post-op pain, with some swelling and a general inability to speak. So for the time being, most of our communication has been in short bursts written down on Post-It notes accompanied by amusing hand-fluttering and waving, punctuated by formless exclamations. For much of the week she's been awake, alert and seems relatively fine, but this afternoon she had a pretty serious episode of nausea and headache and had to retire early to my parents' bedroom -- leaving my dad to labor cautiously to finish the chicken and pasta meals she left simmering on the stove and checking in on her every few minutes.

Shortly afterward, I was studying for my midterms in the dining room when my dad informed me that she wanted to talk to me, so I went in and sat down in a chair beside the bed. Although it reads like the conversation took only a few seconds, it lasted several minutes due to the fact that she had to write down her responses and questions. [Edit: I found the notes the next morning as I was getting ready for class. Since she'd written a recipe for my dad to follow on the same pages, I just copied her words on my own paper for transcription into this entry.]

write your heart out

She jotted down Stay for a minute pls?

"Sure -- let me go get my book and highlighter. I'll sit with you for a minute." I left and came back with my study materials a few seconds later. I thought she just wanted someone to hang out in the room with her, which was fine with me, but she started writing slowly on her pad.

I love you anak. You have not disappointed me -- magaling ka at mabait -- tutularan ka ng mga kapatid mo1. Sorry for my hurting you in the past. Hindi rin kita na-guide ng husto at tama2. I pray you will be mentally healthy.

I was surprised. "No ... it's okay. You didn't do anything wrong."

I feel bad for doing what I had done to you and your siblings. Marami ka pa bang naalala na mali kong ginawa?3

Again, I said no. Even though I wasn't sure where this was going, it was definitely an important moment.

Pag meron pa, sabihin mo sa akin freely para hindi ka nagagalit ng sobra4. You are and you could always be better.

"No Mom, it's fine. I'm not angry with anyone. It's okay." Well, this was only 90% true -- the only person I'm mad at most of the time is myself.

Thank you anak -- kung bababa ang BP ko tutulungan kitang mag-review. Anak, tapos na ang one minute5. Thank you for staying.

I looked up after reading this last part and saw that she was crying softly. At first I didn't understand why she wanted to bring up something like this. I just thought she wanted to bond with me a little and open up a line of communication about an issue she obviously felt was unresolved. It's true though -- I'm not angry at her for how my life has turned out. It definitely isn't perfect and I have several problems that need to be worked on, but I attribute none of them to how I was raised or the way my parents have treated me.

I can't deny that until relatively recently, I really had no direction in life whatsoever. Maybe that was because neither my mom nor dad ever pressured me into pursuing a particular career path. Although they've hinted at an education in the medical field for almost as long as I can remember, I wouldn't call it "pressure." They let me do whatever I wanted to do, which was cool at the time, but in the end I floundered. Perhaps it happened for a reason, because now I have the motivation and drive to finish something (in the allied healthcare industry no less!), and be good at it. So for that, I sincerely thank them.

I checked in on her later to see how she was and also to retrieve the Post-Its of our conversation. I didn't find them unfortunately, but in my search I read something she had written to my dad before she'd called for me:

Please stay with me -- I'm afraid to go to sleep.

I think my mom was scared she wouldn't wake up. That was why she wanted to talk to me and ask my forgiveness, just in case. I think that's why she was crying. I was stunned.

She actually is sleeping now, fitfully, but she's in no danger of going anywhere. Although I'm going to miss the hand movements that look like she's trying to conduct an orchestra, I can't wait until she's fully recovered so we can talk and laugh again.

Tagalog-English Translations:
1You're good and kind ... your siblings will learn from you.
2I didn't guide you well or right.
3Do you remember a lot of things that I did wrong?
4If there's anything else, tell me freely so that you won't be so angry.
5If my blood pressure goes down, I'll help you review. Son, it's been more than a minute.

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