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My mother, my friend (Part 2 & Conclusion)

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Author's note: Following was written, first published in spring 2008 and reprinted around April 20, the day author lost her mother. 

“Leave it to the Lord.”


Was that what she said when her father was captured for having aided guerrilla fighters, compelling her to find employment to help support the family? Did she say it when she arrived from a press trip to find her mother had died while she was in Germany? When my Dad received death threats for exposing corrupt government officials? Perhaps when he was diagnosed with lung cancer?


Of this I'm sure: She uttered those words many times because of me. And yet, my mother always made me feel special, loved. How many moms bothered getting an autographed picture of the Beatles while the Fab Four were in Manila?


Or returned from a US trip with the factory-fresh Woodstock soundtrack? She conspired with my father to indulge my caprices. She herself, however, was selfless. To this day, I have no recollection of my mother coveting anything other than the company of her beloved grandchildren.


While my father disciplined by military mode, my mom is gentle and compassionate, raising neither her voice nor hand to me. She gave refuge from my father's fury, her warm caress clear affirming her love and understanding.


I'm not certain who drew strength from whom, but I finally realized my mother's fortitude in my father's terminal illness. He refused to hire a nurse, letting only my mother, my sister and our longtime nanny to attend to him. She devoted herself to him, uplifting everyone around her as she protected Dad's dignity.


After my father's death, my mother came to live with my husband and son in Northern California, gifting us the family we craved. In the winter she'd fly back to Manila and return when the mercury hit the sky. She treasured her independence, traveling alone, until age 84.


One morning we expected her to arrive later that night when the phone rang: It was mom. She had been waiting patiently for us to pick her up and where were we? So she asked a fellow passenger to please call us and let us know she was already here.


Grace under pressure, she had heaps.


We worried how she would cope with loneliness when on top of her daily TV Mass, her novenas, the Chronicle, "I Love Lucy" reruns, needlework, TV Patrol, and her journal, she devoured stacks of novels she would recommend for our next read.


We became pals, sharing Cabernet with dinner, nature-tripping, sharing our jewelry, perfume – our wardrobe. We discovered each other.


In December 2006, she joined me in receiving the Philippine Presidential Award for Overseas Filipino Organizations and Individuals conferred on our domestic violence prevention outreach group, of which she was a volunteer. A few months earlier, the UST Thomasians USA named her an outstanding alumna and our family honored her for being a model of virtue, integrity and grace.


I long to see my mother’s eyes open, feel her touch, listen to her play the piano, show her the orchids blooming in the kitchen, take her on our weekly shopping expeditions, and beg her to please, please stay with us, but in my heart I know what she would say: Leave it to the Lord.


Rosario M. Querol Jr. grew up as Cherie Querol Moreno, San Francisco Bay Area-based journalist, community educator and volunteer. Above was first published in spring 2008 and reprinted annually as a Mother’s Day feature around April 20, the day author lost her mother.  


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