Farewell, Mommy

11 06 2013

SO THIS must be how it feels to break.  For the heart to break.  For the spirit to break.


My maternal grandmother “Mommy”, ANGELINA AQUINO HERNANDEZ, 03 September 1921 – 28 May 2013

MOMMY, MY MATERNAL GRANDMOTHER, a constant fixture in my growing up years, had finally left this world on the 28th of May 2013, at exactly 6:35 AM.  At about the same time, I was leaving my office desk, frantically and repeatedly pushing the lift button as I couldn’t wait to dart through the turnstile downstairs to catch my flight back to the Philippines.  The day before, the 27th, Mommy was rushed back to the hospital after having been cleared from a bout with pneumonia a couple of weeks earlier.

When I heard the news, I dropped what I was doing and had to make a call.


“Mommy?  You’re in the hospital again daw po?”

 Oo.  Balik na naman ako dito.”  (Yes.  I’m back here again.)

 Pagaling po kayo haDadalawin ko po kayo!   (Please get well.  I’ll visit you.)

 How could that be?  Eh di ba nasa Singapore ka?  (How could that be?  You’re in Singapore, right?)

 “Kumukuha na po ako ng ticket.  The earliest flight available, I will get.  Hintayin nyo ako ha.”  (I’m getting a ticket now.  The earliest flight available, I will get.  Please wait for me.)

 “I love you, Mommy.”

“I love you too.”

“I love you, Mommy.”

“I love you too.”

“I love you, Mommy.”

“I love you too.”


It felt like neither of us wanted to end the conversation.  We just kept saying “I love you” to each other.  It didn’t feel like a portent of what was to happen within the next 12 hours.  It was just that we had always been comfortable to say those words to each other – meaning it every single time.

By the time I arrived, Mommy was already at the morgue.  Nobody knew how to tell it to me so they just blurted it out in the middle of me talking about all that I had to do to make it on a plane back home.

Wag ka mabibigla.  Wala na si Mommy.”  (Don’t be surprised.  Mommy’s gone.)

I couldn’t speak.  But in my head and in my heart, everything just felt crashing down.

During her final moments, they told me that they had to tell her to not wait for me anymore.  Knowing of the pain and the difficulty she must have been going through at the time, I fully understand that she was assured that she could go and leave us and that we would all be fine – I for one could only be a better version of me because she was in my life.

It’s been days and I still couldn’t get over the pain.  I still cry.  I feel no shame in missing Mommy.  I’m thankful for all our conversations, for all the times she held my hands.  We laughed a lot together.  She would always kiss me and embrace me really tight.

I‘ve been made to sing in public so many many times ever since I was a kid.  But the one I now cherish the most is singing an a capella solo of “Tanging Yaman” (Only Treasure), standing right in front of her casket during the Funeral Mass.  That had always been our setup – I would be singing in front of her and then she would applaud enthusiastically.  Mommy loved my singing very much.  I’m glad I had the chance to do it one last time in this life.

I closed my eulogy at her interment by saying that when my own time to die comes, I will will myself to consciously speak to her and tell her just how excited I will be at that moment because it will mean that I will finally see her again.  And I expect her to be there to welcome me.

Like I always said – and still say to this day – “I love you, Mommy.”  To that I now add, “And I miss you very much.  I know you left with a full knowledge of just how much you were loved and cared for.”


For Mommy, it had to be all–white.



During the wake, I would just sit in front of the coffin, hold on to it, and just “talk” to Mommy.



Writing myexact thoughts down. The hospital bracelet came from a 2010 hospitalization. I have this is my wallet. It’s with me all the time.



I threw this in my luggage as I intended to wear this on my first night visiting her at the hospital. I didn’t know I would wear it to the wake.



The entrance to Mommy’s final resting place here on earth.



The sky was so clear the day we bid her a fond farewell that I know she was being given a warm welcome in heaven.



We sent her off with the release of doves and white balloons.



…And one final flying kiss from me. “I love you, Mommy.”


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