One of the things I had been preparing for was my mom's 60th birthday. One of her closest friends from church, Sis. Letty, organized a party for Mom. Chip and I contributed decorations (paper chains, balloons, a centerpiece for the buffet table, etc.), cookies and hors d'œuvres, a trivia game about Mom, and video messages from loved ones abroad. Marguerite also prepared a "secret" (if it remained a secret, it wasn't for lack of Marguerite trying to tell her Nannie about it - right after our first practice, the little girl went straight to her grandmother and said, "Nannie, I got a secret for you" - thankfully, my mom couldn't understand what her granddaughter's secret was all about) song and dance number. She sang and ballet danced "Jesus Loves Me". I was supposed to accompany her on the organ, but I kept on bungling the piece so I just asked Mark to download the music. Mom was also escorted down the aisle to her seat in front by Marguerite while Mark and DM (one of her kindergarten pupils - now a man of 24) serenaded her on the guitar.
Several people were picked out to give their birthday messages, some of whom were her students. Besides being the pastor's wife, Mom also happens to be teacher extraordinaire. She was but a tweener when she used to gather the little children on her street so she could teach them. It was a very clear calling. Many of us were her pre-school pupils and students in Sunday School, either way we would have all been "terrorized", lol. She's a noted disciplinarian, but the kind of terror who is both scary and endearing. Her students definitely loved her. The parents, even more so. In her, they found somebody more effective than monsters or policemen in threatening their children, lol. For instance, there was an absolute hellion who lived in the house across from us. His parents couldn't do anything about him. They enrolled him in Mom's kindergarten class and before long our street was echoing with shouts of "Mrs. Papa! Ryan's tormenting his playmates/throwing rocks at his mother/setting his house on fire...etc." With all the tattling going on, the poor boy had no choice but to straighten up. Somebody quipped that Mom's school was really a reformatory instead of a kindergarten, lol.
Anyway, it was an awesome way to celebrate the life of an extraordinary person. Mom especially loved the videos from her sister in the States and from her niece and nephew in Canada. It was marvelous to have them part of the celebration even if they're far away. Considering how close-knit Filipino families are, Mom has had more than her share of painful goodbyes. Three of her four siblings migrated abroad. Mom also took care of all of her nieces and nephews, except for the ones who were born in the States, and they were all very close to her. Four of these children moved away. Despite the heartache of physical separation, distance definitely does not diminish love between family.
All in all, it was really wonderful to see my mother given this tribute. The past decade has been a series of trials. There wasn't a year when she wasn't taking care of somebody sick. In the beginning of the 2000s, her father was dying of cancer, and then her diabetic mother had a stroke. There was a time when she was taking care of both my grandmother and my sister. The party was just a small way to pay homage to her selflessness and sacrifice.