Vestiges

Memories, even your most precious ones, fade surprisingly quickly. But I don’t go along with that. The memories I value most, I don’t ever see them fading.” ~ Kazuo Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go

I always thought that I had a good memory.  I can remember minute little details from my childhood, like the flowery bedspread my mother gave me when I was in elementary school, and the yellow flowery pillow sheet that I used to cover my favorite pillow, and on which I laid my head for several years and cried on for many nights during my teen years.  I remember portions of events from when I was young, and I even remember how I felt during those moments.

G is six now and she is often curious about how I was when I was her age.  She lost her front tooth recently, and she asked me how long it took for mine to grow back when I had lost my front tooth.  I was surprised when I realized that I did not remember.  I have a very vague recollection of losing my teeth, but yet I can remember the exact layout of my bedroom in our house on Greenport Avenue in California.

I remember the time my sister came back from school one day when she was in first grade and she told me that she felt lonely because no one in school liked her.  I told her that she could sleep with me that night and I sang to her until she fell asleep.

I remember the day my brother went off to the military, and how I cried when he left.

I remember when my mother turned thirty-eight and how I was afraid that she was getting old.

I remember the time I wasted being angry with my dad and how we did not speak for much too long for a reason that no one can even remember anymore.

I am trying to piece back the vestiges of my childhood and early adult years and while I may not remember losing my first tooth, or the first time I fell or got hurt, the memories and events that I hold close to my heart, I will remember those for the rest of my life.

Corruption…. Faceless

I am here in the Philippines on vacation. I have been here since the middle of November. I couldn’t wait to come here. I had been counting down the days, but since I’ve been here, I’ve been angry and depressed.

I hate that I had to come all the way here to see my family. My experience and outlook this time towards the Philippines is much different than in my previous visits. I actually hate it here.

The corruption is rampant and the poverty is stifling. I have seen no improvement in the country and the thought of it is sickening. How is it that other countries, such as Vietnam and Japan, countries that were once war-ravaged, are now prosperous, and the Philippines is still an under-developed country?

It is because the politicians here are corrupt and they only care about what goes in their wallets. Never mind that the mass population barely have enough food to eat and live in shacks.

Maybe the people of the Philippines should take lessons from the people of Romania. Remember what they did to Nicolae Ceauşescu?

That same revolution and bloodshed needs to happen in the Philippines. Otherwise, I fear that the so-called leaders of this God-forsaken country will continue to hold down this country. It is in their benefit to keep the people in oppression.

~~

These past few weeks that I’ve been here, I’ve been having vivid dreams of the past – the times when all of my family were together in the U.S. The dreams feel so real that I wake up disappointed to find myself to simply be a guest in my parent’s home in the Philippines. I wish I could turn back time to happier days and happier situations.

These past few nights, I’ve been having dreams of an unknown person whose face I cannot see and do not recognize. It is the unrecognizable face of a man who makes me feel safe : a man who doesn’t get drunk and then becomes intolerable, a man who has dreams and ambitions of living a simple and normal life, a man who does not let his vices and whims control his life or destroy the lives of others, and a man who stays true and loyal to me as I am to him.

I have never seen his face yet, but when I do, I will know, for it is the face that both haunts and graces me in my dreams.

I look forward to seeing him again in my dreams. Although only a dream, the faceless man has made me feel safe in a way that I have not felt in a long time.

I will take it any way that I can – even if I have to simply dream about it.

Someday

I met EH about thirteen years ago. He had stayed at my house for a few nights when he came to visit his son, SH, my boyfriend at the time. He was a big, but gentle, man who liked to give bear hugs and tell stories of his youth. He was an excitable speaker, and I was an avid listener, and so we got along famously. Unfortunately, he did not have such good communication with his children. SH and his two sisters all fought with him constantly. Many times I never understood why they were so angry with him. Sure, he had his little quirky ways about him, but there was no doubt that he loved his children. All three of his children, including SH, are all free-spirited individuals that do not like to be tied down to conventional ways of life. EH understood that, but that didn’t stop him from giving his opinions on their hippy-like lifestyles. Sadly, his children did not appreciate his opinions, and all three of them had stopped talking to him.

Last month, I talked to SH online and asked him about his father. He told me that he had not talked to his father in two years.

“How is your dad? I asked.

Not sure… have not spoken for 2 years.”

Ohhh… I thought things were going well between you two.”

“I just needed a break to define who I am as a man instead of adopting his patterns and mistaking them for mine.”

‘I see.”

“Maybe someday before he dies we can try again, but he just pissed me off, and I don’t need people in my life who piss me off.”

“I see.”

“Life is too short, even if it is your own family.”

“Life is too short, and maybe that’s why you should just give up your anger and call him… you don’t have to be friends with him, but at least be friendly with him

‘I have no time for people like that…Maybe someday I will have more patience.”

I didn’t agree with SH, but what could I say? I let it go.

Yesterday, I got this message from SH:

My sisters just called me and told me my dad shot himself yesterday. He’s dead.”

As I read his message, I couldn’t help but think about our conversation, just last month.

“Maybe someday I will have more patience.”

Sometimes, the somedays just come too late.

Mother

I think about her all the time. She is on my mind constantly. She is half-way around the world, but she is always in my thoughts. I try to picture her as she was, a young mother, in a foreign country, with no real emotional support system. My father was always working, and even when he was home, he was of the old school, machismo upbringing, and did not spend much time with us kids. She was the one who was with us always, from first light of day to the last moments before sleep. I often wonder how she learned to be such a good mother. After all, her own mother had died when she was still a baby, and she had no memories of her mother to guide her. She grew up with her father and stepmother, who was a very kind, loving woman, but who was so burdened with ten of her own children that she did not have time to dote upon my mother as she was growing up.

When we immigrated to the United States, my brother and I were still very young. My father worked very hard to support my family and so my mother was often alone when she cared for my brother and me. I try to imagine how life was for her, caring for two young children, in a new country, and with no friends or family to help her while my father was working. Now that I am about to become a mother myself, I think of her and wonder if she was ever scared or overwhelmed, and I wonder how she felt during those years while she raised us. Did she ever feel bitter about giving up her own career goals to be a stay-at-home mother, or did she cherish the time and quality of time that she spent with me and my brother and sister? Like some people were meant to be good doctors or good lawyers, was she just meant to be a good mother?

I only hope that I can be half of the mother that she is.

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