Just like my father, Mother was a very strict disciplinarian. She would not spare a pinch on the siñgit (groin or inner part of the upper leg) if we did not behave. Very often it was on account of my constant fighting with Elix that we were punished. We were like cats and dogs. If we were not playing together, we were fighting each other.
When Manang Trining, our cousin Trinidad Bravo, lived with us until she reached high school, Mother would tell Father, who was her chaperon to a dance, that if Mg. Trining is always laughing to take her back home pronto!
At that time women had a fan to hide their smile and were not given to emotional outbursts.
Whenever somebody visited or courted Mg. Trining, Mother would instruct me to be always near her.
But Mother was very friendly to our neighbors. Whenever we had birthdays she always shared our “lechon” (roasted pig) with our neighbors. Whenever she cooked a tasty dinner she shared our food with the neighbors. She was a very good cook.
At times our neighbors visited her and they all sat on our wooden stairway, one on top of the other, searching for “kuto,” or mites or lice, or their tiny eggs, from each others’ hair. At the same time they would tell stories or gossip of the town news.
Her favorite friend was Nana Ulli, who later on became my mother-in-law.
When Mother got sick, I was the one attending to her, combing her hair and fanning her under our house because the roof of our house of galvanized iron had no ceiling. She asked me if I would not be afraid if she appeared to me when she died. I said: “No.“
She was constantly coughing and spitting blood.
No doctor attended to her because we were too poor to pay a doctor. All kinds of local herbal medicine were prescribed for her, including advice for her to smoke. This made her worse!
Before she died, my uncle, Tata Anton, picked us up to ride a “Berlina” (sedan) car up to Baguio. But the cold weather made her cough more.
She also stayed in a house near the sea in Tagudin, Ilocos Sur, for the fresh air and salty environment. I was always with her. I enjoyed playing and bathing in the sea.
The cause of her sickness was when she went to visit Tata Anton in San Fernando, Le Union, where he was stationed from Vigan.
On the way her bus was totaled in Bangar, La Union, pinning her chest with a big wooden bench that almost choked her to death. She was bluish in color when she was extricated and placed to die on the sidewalk by people who saw the accident.
Fortunately Tata Anton was informed about the accident and he went to investigate, not knowing that his sister was one of the victims. Upon recognizing her, he picked her up, placed her in his car and rushed her to the hospital in San Fernando, La Union. This saved her life because they resuscitated her there, where she regained consciousness.
After her hospitalization she started spitting blood and gradually lost weight until she could no longer walk or get up from her sickbed.
It was summer vacation, in May, when I saw my mother suddenly rise up, went down from her bed, faced the crucifix near her, made the sign of the cross, went back to bed and died.
I screamed for help! Father came and told me to fetch our neighbor, Mrs. Maria Busciego, who helped dying persons recite phrases as: “Jesus, Maria and Joseph; Jesus, Maria y Joseph, etc.” until the last breath of the dying person.
It was a very frightful experience for me. I was then only 14 and Elix was 12, in 1932.
The loss of our mother was a great blow to our family.
Father’s business plummeted down, Elix and I were very sad.
Mother was buried in the Pauper’s Cemetery west of the Main Cemetery in a grave marked only by a big tree and a small wooden cross.
When I was 2nd year high school, because the cemetery was close to the Abra High School, I visited my mother’s grave every day before going back home. There I cried my eyes out and wished that she appeared to me.
Mother did not appear to me but I dreamt of her every night.
When I had decided to marry Pat, Mother appeared to me in a dream in Manila. She objected to my marriage. When I insisted, she pinched me in my groin, and I woke up!
I went to the toilet and saw a black-and-blue spot in my groin where she pinched me.