Saturday, February 14, 2009

New things from old things

Today would have been Mama's 64th birthday.

A few weeks ago, my sister Jacqui and I finally opened Mama's closet to clean up and give away her things. We've been planning to do this since she died in September, but it's not the kind of thing one gets excited about. After endless rain checks, however, we decided to just do it one cloudy afternoon, over the long Christmas break.It was kinda sad and funny, sad for obvious reasons and funny because we found silly photos and other stuff that made us go "What on earth..?!" like psychedelic pantsuits from the 70s. Those were really cool by the way, and looked perfect on Jacqui's long frame. I'll try to get a photo of that crazy outfit.

We discovered that Mama didn't really have a lot of clothes. Towards the end of her life, my always stylish mother gave away a lot of her things as she focused more and more on serving God. But she did keep some fabulous dresses. I took home this gorgeous dress, which Mama owned when she was in her 20s.
I also took home this cream sheath dress. A few years ago, Mama had seen it in a store window and said she liked it. I had snapped back that we couldn't afford it. A few days after my rude comment, I scraped together some money and bought it for Mama. I remembered that oftentimes when I was a teenager, Mama had eaten Skyflakes crackers for lunch just so she can save up to buy me a new dress or shoes. I got Mama her dress and sent it with a sorry note. She loved it, of course, and forgave me, as usual. Now this dress is hanging in my closet. It doesn't fit me but I like touching it now and then.

I also took home these lovely evening bags. They're actually my grandmother's, passed on to Mama, and now they're mine.
Aside from her closet, Mama's jewelry box was also almost empty. When I was a little girl, that box overflowed with the most wondrous sparkling things. As our finances dwindled to nothing, those lovely works of art were sold or pawned so that we can eat or go to school or have new clothes.

When Mama died, Jacqui and I had the difficult task of choosing what she was to wear in her coffin. We chose her prettiest silk chemise to wear under her two-piece pale yellow quilted suit that she had worn proudly to my younger brother's wedding. Then I picked out her favorite pearl earrings and her pearl choker. When Jacqui and I opened Mama's jewelry box again weeks ago, there was hardly anything else left, just inexpensive pieces that a pawnshop wouldn't even consider. Looking at the few remaining items, we kinda got teary-eyed, remembering how Mama would cheerfully say, "Oh, don't worry about your tuition/project/field trip. I think I still have a bracelet in my jewelry box to sell/pawn. We'll be alright." I took home this gold necklace with a tiny disco ball diamond pendant, and I wear it every day.

The rest of Mama's jewelry, Papa and I gave to Jacqui. She, being 19, didn't want any except for Mama's pearls and only because the pearl is Jacqui's birthstone. But I told her a girl's got to have jewelry of her own and not to depend on a man to buy her her rocks. So Jacqui kept the diamond ring, a couple of pearl bracelets and necklaces, and a choker made of amethyst, Mama's birthstone.

We packed away the rest of Mama's things and have sent them to charities and distant relatives in the province. We're not done yet, however. We still have to go through her books, photos, journals... This time, we're no longer dreading this task. It's like rediscovering Mama all over again, seeing her not just as our mother, but as a faithful wife, a devoted friend, a thoughtful sister, and a true champion of Christ.


  1. frances, you never fail to make me misty-eyed whenever i read your entries about your mom. i love this post. and i am loving your mom more as i get to know her better through your posts.. makes me love and appreciate my own mami as well. i'm sure your mama's having a blast in heaven as you mentioned. i am going to ask for her intercession often :)

  2. This post brought tears to my eyes. I really miss her, and i never miss a day without thinking about her. Life is different without her. when you said she was a champion for Christ, I couldnt agree more. She indeed was and now she met her Lord! What an accomplishment!

  3. What a touching post. I'm so happy you kept those lovely dresses.

  4. hi franz, tin here. this post on mama au made me cry for nearly an hour. she was the mother that i never had. i wish i could've have told her how much i value everything that she taught me. and those will stay with me through life. i wish i could've also told her how sorry i am for causing her pain for the things i've done. and i wish i could've have thanked her for all the love and sacrifice that she has given to me and to my girls... "thank you, mama u! i love you." - tin

  5. This is such a tear jerker of a post, and yet beautifully endearing.
    Sending love your way.

  6. I'm happy I got to meet your Mom, Frances. I'm so grateful I went up to her that day at the Fort when I saw her with your nieces. I usually don't walk up to people who might not remember me. I'm glad I did that day because that was the last time I saw her alive, I think.

    Your mom is a wonderful woman of God. You are, too, Frances.

  7. Lovely post. Your mother sounds like she was a wonderful person with wonderful children who appreciated her :)

  8. That could not have been easy. All through your post I kept on thinking of my cousin as she went through my grandmother's closet a few years back. I don't think I could go through that...

    You write beautifully. :)

  9. V Day is your mom's day diba. hay, frances... kakaiyak naman ito. I miss tita au. She celebrated her first birthday in heaven this year and I know she is happy. She definitely has blessed so many people in her lifetime. The imperfect world that we are in, we still can't help but feel blue when we miss her. Life is really so short no! Your posts like this make me want to be a better daughter to my parents and show them love more than I ever did. I tend to take for granted their presence. Sobrang busy, dami distractions.

    Thanks for sharing your life even through this blog. You bless people with your heart. :-)

  10. what a post! I really felt how you deliver it word for word...

  11. Nel's Bebi, you don't need Mama for intercession =D That's why Jesus died for us--so we can go straight to the Father with our prayers!

    Manila String Machine, yes... Mama left big shoes to fill. And I'm very very proud of you because you're doing just fine carrying on her legacy.

    WendyB, the blue dress fits! I'm wearing it to a wedding soon =D

    Tin, we all break our parents' hearts. Just please be there for the girls. You'll always be part of the Amper family, you know!

    DaisyChain, your love has found its way to our shores! Thank you! Sending love back to the UK!

    Ro, thank you. And Mama always remembered everyone she met! I don't know how she did it. She said it has something to do with looking at others through Jesus' eyes. Everyone becomes important!

    Bucca, Mama was a wonderful woman yes. Sadly, her children didn't appreciate her enough when she was alive =(

    Vera, actually the thought of it was difficult. But once we started the task, it was quite fun! Remembering her through her wacky clothes, letters, old photographs... that was such a joy =D

    Jen, yes, life is short! Ack! I pray to God every day, "Please one more day, let me love one more day!"

    Feron, each word came from my heart. Yet every word can't even begin to describe what Mama truly was--larger than life and beyond beautiful!

    To everyone, thank you. God bless you all!

  12. Oh I have to agree with everyone saying this brought tears to their eyes - especially the last paragraph for me. How lucky and blessed you are to have had such a wonderful mother.

  13. just discovered your blog (through that gucci bag/shopaholic link). its wonderful.

    this post about your mom is so sweet and painful at the same time. im sorry you lost your mom frances. she is so beautiful.

    and that long dress is really amazing!



  14. Edzhstar, thanks! I'll try to update my links!

    Carver, aha! You have a blog! Coolness.

    Carole, yes, I was blessed and still am! Mama's legacy continues!

    Daphne, thank you for the thoughts and the hug! I'll see Mama again; it's not really a loss =D and yes, the dress is amazing. Can't wait to wear it!

  15. My mom also passed away on a september morning almost 3 years ago. I also postponed going through her closet until I was ready. I kept a few of her things and packed the rest....and it's still somewhere in the house. Thanks for this post, it's a push I need to finally give away her things.


  16. A lovely story for Mother's Day. I got teary eyed while reading through your post. Frances, your Mom is so pretty and she has a beautiful heart
    I'm glad to have come across your post, makes me love my Mom too more.

    - Jaki

  17. Hi Frances,

    I know this is actually a super late comment but I just stumbled upon your blog recently and just had the chance to check your posts. This really made me cry. I am so sorry about your Mom. My Mom died in October. the same year - 2009. It's been hard for the family and I never got to say goodbye to her since she had brain aneurysm. But thanks for this and thanks for your blog. I really love it! I am now a fan of this. Keep the posts coming!


  18. Hi Frances. I searched specifically for an article about your Mama and I was glad this was the first to come up. 10 days ago was my Mom's first year death anniversary. It has been a roller coaster ride in the grief mobile and tonight is one of the steep drops. Mom died of cancer after six months of, for lack of a better word, struggle. Does it ever get easier? I admit there are days I can get really lost in my tasks as a wife and mother of six that I forget about her just as when she was alive but when it hits, it's one of the things I beat myself up with, you know, the guilt of not being there more for her and other stuff. Other days, my logic's got the better handle and I can reason away all the things that makes me feel sad but sometimes it just blankets my whole self and I get moody even angry at no one and every one.
    Does it ever get easier with time? Do you mark your memories by the moments she was with you? Like when you remember an event, say the birth of a child, you’d think “Oh Mama was 50 pa lang then, I wonder if I’d be a grandma at 50 and how would I compare to her?”. Do you still wish she was still here (in your head) in happy times, in sad? Do you still hang your head in longing?
    You don’t have to post this comment. I’ll be glad just knowing you read it and knowing you’ve gone through the same things. I didn’t want to bother my sister because she’ll just be sad with me and she shouldn’t be because she’s 6 months preggy --- at 43! Just like me then, if you remember the comments in your Supermom article almost 3 years ago. I lost my baby but she’s gonna take it the whole nine yards so, I’m happy for her. Sorry for the sad mode but thanks for reading, hugs to you and your boys!

    1. Dear Megsky, it doesn't get easier. For me, it's been 10 years but the grief is still there. Thankfully, life has lots of wonderful moments and so I can truly say that I am very happy. But just because the sun is out doesn't mean the moon has ceased to exist. The grief is always there. You just learn to live with it.

      With the grief is guilt and always the longing. For every single time you're happy and for every single time you're not. Again, you just learn to accept that there's nothing you can do anymore. My mother in law helped me with this by telling me not to feel bad because I could've done the worst but a mother will always forgive and always love her child so I should stop feeling guilty and accept Mama's love and forgiveness even if I didn't specifically hear it.

      As for your sister, share your memories and grief lang with her. No one else will understand you kasi the way your sister will. Hindi naman araw-araw kayong iiyak. May mga araw rin na you'll remember your mom and laugh and feel good. In fact, that's why I decided to have more than one child. Kasi when Mama died, I could only share my grief with my siblings. My husband and friends were great but Mama was not their mother so hindi nila gets yung annihilation. So I decided that when Vince and I die, at least our sons will have each other for comfort when the grief gets really bad.

      I'm so sorry you lost your mom, Megsky. You hang in there. Some days will be awful so kapit lang sa memories. I remember reading Harry Potter to my kids last year and when I read that part, yung 10 years after Harry's mom died, her love still protected him from Voldemort, I choked up kasi naalala ko nanay ko. I like to believe that even now, dead for so many years, her love still protects and envelopes me. And I believe your mom's love does the same for you. So take comfort in that =)

      BIG HUG!

  19. My mama died during the pandemic and I remembered this old post when my sisters and I finally packed away her things lately. I looked for this post and everything you said about going through her stuff is true. It was like she was alive again, Frances ❤️❤️❤️Parang nasa mall lang siya and liniligpit lang namin yung mga gamit niya. She will always be alive as long as we remember her.


Thanks for dropping by my blog! It really means a lot that you spare the time to read... and comment!