IT STRUCK ME that not all kasambahays are mothers, and not all mothers are kasambahays. We have a special day to magnify mothers but not a similar one to honor the help. Which makes me thankful that the Legion of Mary conceptualized the program to pay tribute to these silent, unsung minority who are, ironically, our Kasama sa Bahay and Buhay, to some as long as they have been with blood relations.
One day, I overheard Lorna, our part-time help, talking to her daughter, whose husband was rushed to the hospital because of an extremely high blood pressure. She was instructing her daughter how to handle the situation with a presence of mind and without hysterics. I thought she was being a good mother, still responsible for one who has already flown the coop yet still seeks her reliable counsel. As if being responsible for families outside her own (she has several married children who never severed the umbilical cord between them) won’t ever preclude her basic responsibility at all. The husband is now recuperating. Lorna has bid us “so long” to tend to an adopted grandkid. I wished her well as I tied the apron strings that she put aside until the next help comes happily along.
The legion’s program is held every first Sunday of the month, the interval long enough for the handmaidens to find time to consult their notebooks and do their homework. It is no small surprise they spring when we meet and more and more of them turn up confident to assume leading the rosary. Compared to the past when no one would even look us in the eye to dare admit they did not know how. That our catechesis is paying off is the fruition of their (and our) fealty to Mary.
And so it was a welcome whiff of benign breeze that Sr. Mary (of the Daughters of St. Mary of Providence) saw me walking my Bronson one day and asked, “When are you going back to the (Holy Family) Center?” She meant the day care that they run for the children in the depressed areas along Holy Spirit Drive.. And, taken wonderfully aback, I blurted, “Soon, Sr., we’ll take it up in the meeting.” Because Ate Daisy has been proposing the plan, I did bring it up one Monday evening and it was received favorably and it has been months since we resumed the pleasant apostolate.
With a slight change, however. Before, our audience consisted mainly of mothers who waited on their children until they emerge from their classrooms. Now they seem no longer interested in our company. The good thing about their apparent disinterest is that they would have congested the hall now occupied by grandmothers whom the Center has accommodated for some time now. (Although that didn’t seem to matter when we grouped them together in one or two parlor games.) The group, larger than that of the mothers, is shepherded by Ate Mabel, a Catechist who not only joins them to pray the rosary daily (her husband Kuya Rudy is with them the Thursdays that we were there) but also teaches them arts and crafts (which gave us a bright idea to teach them how to make bracelet beads, at least during the Rosary Month. (Kuya Rudy will sometimes be joined by Kuya Joe or Kuya Sonny.) The bad thing about their not joining is that we felt they are intimidated by their elders and so are deprived of the chance to receive the same grace. We tried getting them back in but to no avail. The Lord’s will be done.
Up ahead, we have prepared a Christmas Party where we will mix them together and hope to include the reluctant mothers. With the prayer that solidarity rules the day.
But before that, UtoLiza has visited them and explained the merits of being an auxiliary member of Mary’s Legion. Last Thursday, we distributed Tesseras and promised to complete the supply next week. To date, we have celebrated two birth anniversaries, one in honor of Lola Rosita and the other for Lola Marcela. To see the teary twinkle in their eyes was a joy like no other.
ABRAHAM DE LA TORRE