Elena’s Nest

Like the eagle’s school of flying and maturity training, spearheaded by the great mother eagle, I could relate it to how my siblings and I had early training on how to use our “wings” to prepare for life’s challenges and trials at a young age.

When my father worked overseas, my mom, Elena, wore both caps as “father and mother” to four young children. Then, she fully absorbed these two major roles and responsibilities when my father passed away and left my mom as a young widow. Life skills training began and emotional banks were filled early on in our household. Just as a young eagle must observe and imitate the parent eagle, in order to fly, my siblings and I observed how my parents held on to their faith and braved through life’s tumultuous “storms.” This May, most of us are thinking of special ways to celebrate, and honor, the powerful great “eagle” in our lives: our mother.

Years ago, I had the chance to give my mama a special way to celebrate and honor her for Mother’s Day. Tired and hungry from my graveyard shift, I decided to drop by the mall to buy some food. While I strolled down the grocery aisles, ambivalent of which snack I really want to buy, I listened to the special announcement (a pause from playing Don Moen songs). I knew that they were having an essay writing competition for the upcoming Mother’s Day celebration. I decided to inquire from the customer service counter and learned that day when I was at the mall was actually their last day for accepting entries. I admitted that I was interested joining and was informed that I had until 6 o’clock, that evening, to submit my entry including a photograph with my mother. I hurriedly went home and asked my nephew for pen and paper. I only had few hours left to write the essay and commute back to the mall. Instead of hitting the bed after my graveyard shift, I was cramming to beat the deadline. My mom and my nephew wondered what I was busy writing and I just told them it was work-related. But my nephew’s curiosity got the best of him. He read through my paragraphs then exclaimed, “Elena Calantas Sapasap… that is mama right?!” I quickly warned my nephew not to mention anything to Mama. Then I told him to play with my mom outside while she babysat my newborn niece. I just wanted to focus on my essay.

After writing the essay, I found a photograph of me and my mom, then, I asked my mama for a mailing envelope. She totally had no idea that the essay I just wrote was about her! I rushed to go back to the mall and was able to send in my entry even before the 6pm deadline. After a week, or so, I decided to drop by the mall, since I was curious to see the results of the competition. I was surprised when they told me that they were just about to display the names of the winners.

Imagine my surprise to find out that my essay, A Big Heart in the City of Love, had placed second! I was torn between telling my mom the great news or keep it a secret until the day of the awarding ceremony. I decided to go with the latter because friends had told me that they heard my name when they went to other branches of the mall. I thought that my mom would eventually find out, so, I decided to tell her the good news!

Elenas Nest 1

The author and her mother, Elena, pose in front of a copy of her second-place winning essay.

During the awards ceremony, the contest organizer interviewed us and we both shed tears of joy! It was, indeed, a very special Mother’s day celebration. We had received wonderful prizes on stage — a beautiful bouquet for my mom, hotel lunch buffet for four guests, a cash prize, gift pack from sponsors, and a spa certificate for my mama to be pampered! I was very grateful that I joined the essay competition, even at the last minute, and thanked God for His favor in winning the competition for my mom!

Weeks after that momentous celebration, an unfortunate incident happened. A fire gutted our house and all of our belongings were all destroyed. Underneath, the rubble, we found photographs of my papa that were not totally burned. Even during such a painful scene, our Father in heaven allowed us to be comforted that, even if we had lost our personal belongings, childhood photographs, and treasured memorabilia, God never failed to make us smile. We were so grateful that nobody was hurt even if the last clothing we had were the ones we wore to work that morning.

Distress was evident on my mom’s face, after such tragedy and loss, yet I also commend her for enduring painful circumstances and acknowledging that God remained faithful in spite of life’s many trials. Our family witnessed an outpouring of care, help, and support, from relatives, friends, schoolmates, colleagues, and supervisors from companies where my siblings and I worked, as well as our brethren/family in the faith.

The author and her mom at the awards ceremony.

The author and her mom at the awards ceremony.

If I were to join another essay competition for my mom, the fire incident would highlight her commendable strength, unswerving faith in God and remarkable resilience as a mother. As I look back, I thank the Lord for each blessing, glimpses of hope and wonderful opportunities to give honor to my mother who demonstrated courage as a young widow, strength as a single parent, and a source of inspiration to all her children and many others. I believe that each mother deserves to be thanked for, honored, and celebrated, for they are a special gift to each family and to rest of the world.  Most of us are grateful to have a mother with innate capability to nurture, teach, discipline and train her children to soar high — like how the eagle flies above the storm, like the flight training we received in “Elena’s nest.”

Oh, as for my mom’s spa gift certificate, she lost it due to the fire incident but the contest organizer issued her a new one. My mama got a well-deserved pampering after such bittersweet events that occurred on that Mother’s day. ✿

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