Last Day of August: Remembering Mom

The author's mother, Conchita, as a young, single, girl visiting Paris.

It all started with this picture.

I see it everyday when I pass by the china cabinet where the urn of my mom resides. The photo is, literally, stuck in the seam of the outside glass pane.

I think, to myself, how independent she was… a 20-something born and raised in Santa Rosa, Laguna — what was then a rural town in the Philippines — to set off for Europe with some girlfriends in the mid-60s. I don’t think I ever had that drive even in my late 30′s, when I was financially secure enough, to pursue something adventurous like that.

As I admire pictures of my mom through the years, I realize that they have so many stories to tell. Although she is no longer here to share them, I recently have found inspiration in all these images which showed me how she carried herself, her fashionable style, and the simple expression of her face.

On the 7th day of August, my mom, Conchita, would have turned 73. This year also marked her 7th anniversary in heaven. Lots of lucky 7s.

Conchita riding to work on the New York City subway, Circa 1970s.

Conchita riding to work on the New York City subway, Circa 1970s.

Mom was indeed lucky as a child being the first born to survive. My Lola (grandmother) endured three miscarriages before my mom arrived. Since her birth she was the golden child — like all firstborns — getting anything and everything she wanted.

My dad would tell me stories that my Lolo (grandfather) had shared with him about mom. She would have temper tantrums as a child, hurling her body on the floor until she got what she wanted.

“Sounds familiar, huh, Dexter?” I look at my own little toddler.

Little did Mom know that she would, then, be followed by a little brother and sister. At this point she quickly assumed the eldest sister role providing support and guidance.

She was the first, and only one, from her immediate family to migrate to the United States — on her own. With two small suitcases in tow she and a girlfriend landed in New York City. They settled in an apartment in Queens that practically felt like an earthquake when the subway roared past. Soon, after, they found work at the United Nations. And that’s where she met dad in 1969. Lucky for him.

Lucky for my sister and me too! Lucky for us to have a trailblazer as a mom who will always be our rock and idol. We love you and miss you, mom. ♥