Last Tuesday was my mom’s 40th day after death. We had a simple mass celebrated with Fr. Arlo Yap officiating. Fr. Arlo’s homily was enlightening. It pointed out the importance of that 40 day period. He said that in the bible, the number 40 has actually symbolized a lot of transitions, including the purging in Noah’s ark, the exodus of the Jews into the promise land, the temptation of Jesus Christ after baptism in the River Jordan and the period from Resurrection to Ascension. The number 40, in days and even in years, has therefore a legitimate Catholic significance. In our family’s case, the transition is going through life this time without my mother. O bla di, o bla da…life must go on.
My mom, Elisa Espiritu Gozon passed away so suddenly of an aneurism. She has been a vital part of our lives in many years. She was a great loss in our family. She was the one who takes care of the household. Our house is literally empty without her.
For the past month I have been contemplating to write my version of mom’s eulogy. But I didn’t know where and how to start it. I have lots of stories to tell and memories of her to share, but I could not organize my thoughts. I find personal blogging easy, taking about an hour or so to finish. But I never expected that it was difficult to write about my mom, especially now that she is gone. Fr. Arlo’s 40th day homily made it easier for me to do so.
My sister Carol and I assumed the role of organizing the things my mom left behind. In doing so we unearthed so many treasures, maybe priceless only to us because of memories attached to them. She was a collector, who filled our house with different stuff and curios. We have lots of pictures and it was my mom who organized them into albums. All my personal mementos which I myself would not care to keep, she kept tucked away in one part of her closet. There were a lot of greeting cards, even letters decades old. Some gave us a laugh or two (especially letters to sisters from old high school friends and boyfriends) but with a few, we could not help to be teary eyed. A number of the photo albums I have not seen at all before. One of it contained pictures from when before I was born (I was the youngest and my youngest sibling, Teng, is 8 years older than I am). It is there where I rediscovered some pictures of my mom in her old plant shop.
When my mom graduated in college with a degree in Home Economics, she established a small business of selling real live plants in Cartimar. She would do the selling and sourcing herself at first. But eventually my dad quit his job in the old Public Works office to help my mom in her plant shop. I used to hear from her that they sold plants then along with the matriarchs of established landscape firms we know today (which I personally proved because whenever I meet old landscapers or flower enthusiasts, they ask me if I am related to Aling Ely or Mang Andy – my mom and dad). But eventually my parents left their plant business in Cartimar and established a shop (in our home) in La Loma, this time selling artificial flowers.
My oldest recollection of my mom’s job is that she arranges the flowers and my dad is the one that delivers them. When I was young I remember our house being packed with boxes and plastic flower arrangements. My exposure to their business has actually made it easy for me to remember the names of the different plants and flowers. Even before I entered college I already know the following plant names: the likes of Podocarpus, Saxifraga, Polycias, Phalaenopsis, Dendrobium, croton, Diefenbachia, Bougainvillea, Calladium, Philodendron, etc. My mom's flower shop lasted about 35 years, which they eventually decided to close recently.
I attribute my love for the arts to both my parents but my interest in plants, I definitely inherited from my mom. Even at the peak of their latest business, my mom never lost her love for plants and gardens. Our own house would have an array of potted plants, even if the space did not allow it. When we transferred to a bigger house and had the luxury of a small rooftop garden, it was she who made it her pet project. Even when I became to be the main plant person in the house (filling up the old garden with new collectible plants), it was still my mom who made it sure the plants were healthy and the garden well maintained. Now that she is gone, I will be the sole person to take care of her plants. I can tell that the garden misses her presence. I will miss her so, but i will try to let her memory live on in me and the garden.