The Comfort of Mom Edith
By Atty. Ernesto Superal Yee
My first memory of Mom was both instruction and delight. Like divine knowledge, I intuitively felt the warm welcome when I saw the open gate, smelled the scent of ripe mangoes and the inviting aroma of food cooked slow and sure in the kitchen. When she appeared to greet me, her open smile was a foretaste of the sliced fruits, juice dripping, and the lovingly prepared mouthwatering provisions ready to be savored, to be consumed. The loose dress that she wore had prints of the wildest rambling designs. The dress looked majestic on her. When she called me Son, at that time, I didn’t know it was going to be forever. My sensible respond was one reverential Morn.
I was there to hear her verdict of my first work entitled Mama‘s Two Places.
We sat at her family dinner table. When she began talking about my work, I saw the light in her eyes. Not the light that glowed from the side lamp or the dwindling, settling one reflected on the windowpanes, but the light she saw in the poem. Her spoken words, clear as spring water, articulated my passion for writing, why I should persist in pursuing the craft.
After her critique, she shared with me the delightful comfort of her food. Eating with Mom, even today, is always one glorious feast. It is one fond memory that you can take home with you and share with your family, your circle of friends. This must be the reason why, when in Manila, my usual conversation with my dearest Susan, Marj and D.M. is always about Mom’s dinner table. We all tremble with youthful anticipation and excitement at the mention ofbinakut—soup of shredded chicken, shrimps, crab, sweet corn and sprinkling of horse radish commonly known as kalamunggay, and the ground meat wrapped in gabi leaves cooked in coconut milk. And of course, the dinugoan, I jokingly refer to as Count Dracula’s favorite pudding, that goes with Mom’s golden letchon. All prepared under her strict instruction and supervision! The sweet smell of pork and the steaming, crackling yet succulent skin tempt lasciviously our senses. Sight and smell collide. Our tongues are beginning to water. We crave for food. We start missing our Mom, our shared longing.
Years pass so quickly. Nothing much has changed in Mom except of course her age. Her eyes are as clear as the oval mirror that reflects the gorgeous in her. Mom is still the lady, the spokesman, the wife, the mother, the teacher, the poet, the essayist, the fictionist, the novelist, the singer and the charmer, the bravest woman I first met thirty-six years ago. And the fact that every time we eat together, Mom over feeds me still with everything. Remembered stories, romances of poets and fictionists, the critic’s complaints, and naughty jokes disguised as serious tales blend well with the food she serves. Every time I savor the taste of her cooking, I imbibe her teaching: well-prepared food is the conjurer’s bridge to memory. Like a well-crafted poem, the food’s sight, smell and taste lead and pave the way to associative remembering. As if by magic, I can easily remember people and places, collision of events and seasons, however far and distant and away those memories are. Then I am moved to reflect, to contemplate. I start gathering my thoughts. I begin to feel that quiet assurance that nothing really has been lost. I can now write about what I truly remember, and what I honestly want and need to keep.
Mom still runs and directs the longest writing workshop in Asia. Through the years, the children Mom has adopted and will continue to welcome in her world of words will look up at Mom as their succor, support and solace. Amazing, that at the age of eighty-seven, Morn still encourages and assists, surely, openly and lovingly.
For everything you have given and will continue to give as nourishment, as comfort—Mom, let me publicly declare my heartfelt thanks.
A river of thanks, my dearest Morn.