Last Sunday, my friend, Carol, texted me that she would be taking her mom, Tita Tina, to spend her 84th birthday at the shop on Tuesday, November 3.
Carol’s older sister, Ginny, was my sister, Mai’s high school barkada; their batchmates from STC Cebu hung out a lot at the Bonifacio home on Archbishop Reyes Street when they were in High School. Whenever Mai came home from some excursion with her barkada, I’d get all curious to hear her stories when she came back because they just seemed so cool, knew so much, had so much fun. When Mai bartered her Nancy Drew book titles for theirs, she even let me read them before she returned them.
Today is November 3. I was excited that after oh, some thirty years, I would finally meet THE Tita Tina for the first time.
I’m usually wearing black and/ or white in honor of my mother-in-law’s passing but since it’s Tita Tina’s birthday today, I wore a pink apron. [Ahia Aytoy said that it’s okay to wear an outer layer of happy colors as long as it’s not our main clothes that are red or pink.]
When she finally walked in to the shop, I introduced myself to Tita Tina, a beautiful, dignified, comely lady who radiates kindness in her gait. I told her, “I’ve never met you before but I feel like I know you!”
I saw her, Tita Aida, and Sarina to their seats. Carol was still detained by traffic so I proceeded to share with Tita Tina Mai’s Viber message:
Dear Tita Tina,
Have a blessed birthday! I remember when you took me along with you to Club Pacific Beach for a whole weekend and Ginny, Carol, and I were in one tent/ wigwam. I will always look up to you as the model mom and thank you for all the good times we had. I spent so many nights at your home and you welcomed me.
Tita Tina beamed as she said, “That’s the first time that I heard I had such an impact on other people’s lives.” That actually brought back to her recollection her students from decades ago (when she taught at PWU and Ateneo) who were so grateful that they reached out to her even after they had moved to the US or Australia.
Carol finally arrived on Uber and I did my usual shop shuffle while they enjoyed their food and bonding.
After lunch, Carol and I agreed that I would give Tita Tina a cake on behalf of Mai and sing her a song, “Sa Ugoy Ng Duyan,” a Tagalog lullaby tribute to a Mom.
My message to Tita Tina after the song was something like this:
The reason I chose that song is that you have more children than you think you do. You may have thought you raised five children but in sharing your heart to young people from your students to your children’s friends, by opening your home, by a smile, a wise word, a kind gesture, you impacted their lives and they shared that with others in their lives….like I have only met you today but in your kindness to my sister, you impacted her life which impacted mine. If Carol hadn’t given prior notice, Mai wouldn’t have been able to personally thank you for what you did. There are other nameless faceless people who are not able to thank you so I’m just representing them all to thank you on their behalf for sharing your life with them. Happy Birthday!
Tita Tina gave this message to Mai:
What a wonderful privilege for precious moments like these to take place at the humble little shop!
Tita Tina is like Everyone’s Mom, a kind, nurturing, welcoming additional mother figure who spreads God’s love to others. God has graced each of us with someone like her when we open our hearts. To me, that was my sister Joy, Tita Irma, Patty at PSHS dorm, Mom Shirley, Mom Rough, Mom Blair, Mom Kathy, and my other Rotary moms, Tita Chinggay, Tita Day, Auntie Lilly, Auntie Suzan, Mama Beth Sanders, Deonna, Gina, Roochie, Jhie, Edith, Heidi, Princess, Ruth, Tita Nena, Tita Tess, Achi Caling, Cherry, Dawn, Mia, Mary Ann, Steph, Ann, Achi Maribel, and so many other women that only my poor memory is limiting me from. They in turn inspire us to pay forward their kindness, nurturing, and time with others.
Thank You Lord for Tita Tina, for Mai, for Everyone’s Moms around the world and this love relay! 🙂 And thank You for the technology we now have that allows thanks to be relayed through wires and miles!