My beautiful nanay, mother of papa, passed away Friday last week at the age of 79, three days short of her 62nd elopement anniversary with mamay. Now, she suffers no more. She was only 73 when she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, and had suffered from then on. She was in poor health in the last days of her life having been confined in Mediatrix Lipa. Earlier this year, nanay had suffered from mild stroke. This led to her other complications. Her lungs had failed from pneumonia, and then she can no longer eat which made her even weaker. In order to sustain her life, my aunts, uncles and cousins all contributed for nanay’s medical needs. Tubes were first fitted into her nostrils so that she can have food intakes. The last time I saw her was last year on Tope’s 25th birthday when we paid her and mamay a visit. She was thin, lying on her bed with her nannies, and murmurs few words like a baby. She can no longer remember anyone of us.
When I mama broke the news, I felt sad because I had lost another grandparent this year, my lolo Panching just last March, same date with nanay Carmen which was also 22. I was sad because will miss nanay. I thought about the time when nanay used to take care of me, ate Gzeth & Jen because my parents had moved back in Mindoro on 1996. I remembered the days that before I leave for Montesorri, nanay would prepare our sumptuous meals with the help of our yaya Alma/Eva. When I had been ill from german measles, nanay accompanied me to the pediatrician and took care of me. Looking back, I felt grateful again for the love nanay had poured unto us.
Bracing ourselves for the unruly tides, Stephen, mama, and I took the last Supercat trip to Batangas. I just had to see nanay on her final night. Looking at nanay peacefully resting inside her elegant, dark, narra, coffin, I was awestruck. She was so beautiful, had looked like 15 years younger, and mestiza as ever. Her cheeks were plump and rosy, her grey hair now as black as ebony, the way it used to be before her Alzheimer’s took her memory; and her thin yet lovely lips arched in a delightful smile. She looked so happy and so much at peace now; free from the sufferings her body had endured in the last days of her life. She was the beautiful nanay Carmen who traveled in the United States with mamay, and had returned because they badly missed their family. She had cried when her father, and mother whom I met twice years ago died of old age. She had attended my first holy communion, scolded me when I said that the wine that symbolized as the blood of Christ tastes bad, taught me how to pray with the rosary, eat hawot, large beans, and sayote grown by mamay from our backyard, took me to the cathedral and tuklong to pray fervently, and taught about pamamalengke at the age of 7. Her good-natured self once made her and mamay a “Huwarang Senior Citizen Awardee of 2002.”
She was a God-fearing, kind, and lovely mestiza barrio lass of Aya, San Jose, Batangas who had captured the hearts of numerous lads including the grandfather of my old friend who now lives somewhere in the west coast. On her grave, mamay repeatedly thanked her for the love, care, children and memories she had shared with him. She had chosen mamay from among her suitors, and loved him, and their brood endlessly. And we love you too our dear nanay Carmen Andal-Perez.