On the Suddenness of Sixty

Today is my mother’s 60th birthday. This fact boggles the mind. It’s the most natural thing in the world for other people to turn 60—to pass the chronological demarcation line from middle age into old age—it startles me that the same thing should happen to my Mom, and that it should happen so suddenly, so unobtrusively, and with such finality.  

Much of this has to do with the fact that my mother’s (massive, monumental, monolithic) presence in my life has a timeless quality to it. My sense of the passage of the years—the transition from childhood to adulthood—has been dulled by the steadfastness of my mother’s regard. It doesn’t matter that I’m nearly thirty years old, that I’ve traveled the world, that I’ve had a number of degrees and a matching number of careers—my mother will, without hesitation, ring to remind me to pack an umbrella, to bring extra cash, and to never, ever, scrimp on food.  

(And it’s not because she doesn’t trust me, but because the enormity of her love—for me and for my siblings—demands expression. It finds its outlets in the most mundane of concerns, in the minutiae of everyday life, in the very things that she knows, deep down, she’s already trained us for. In recent years, she’s restrained herself—and that restraint is an even greater testimony of her love.)

I cannot even begin to assess how much of my life today still depends on my mother’s devotion. So much of my sense of security and peace of mind derives from knowing that she’s there for me and that, no matter what happens and no matter where I go, I will be loved and cherished for as long as she exists. So I really don’t care that she’ll ring me on occasion to tell me the same old things—those “same old things” have often been my only anchor during some very tempestuous times.

So: Happy, happy birthday, Mom. I am who I am because of you, and I’ll never tire of saying it. I’m proud to be your kid, and, I love you.

One thought on “On the Suddenness of Sixty

  1. Eleanor says:

    Love your piece about me and on my turning 60. You’re right, even up to to your old age, you will always be my babies (along with your siblings). I’m so happy that you have stated in your article that you don’t mind my occasional “kulit calls” to you. I love you dearly and it’s been an immense joy to have you, your kuya and Elaine as my children.


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