Saturday, May 10, 2014

Being Mommy Lolarga

In her most recent blog entry in, writer Cecilia Brainard wrote both of herself and her mother Concepcion Cuenco Manguerra, "It's difficult for me to describe her accurately because I only saw one side of her. I remember her as high strung and dramatic."

I couldn't agree more. Of all the subjects I will ever come to write about, Gliceria "Nene" Lolarga or Mommy looms as the hardest one to tackle. She is still very much around and isn't everyone's idea of what a near 88 year old looks like.

Mother to eight adults who're mostly in their 50s

Having been orphaned early and raised by aunts and a much older sister, she had no real models on how to become a mother, the hardest job in the world, bar none. Nevertheless, she continues to be mother to eight grownups and countless adopted ex-youngsters, including formerly erring nieces and nephews in need of a step-mom kind of discipline. The security guards and street sweepers in our Pasig neighborhood address her as "Mommy Lolarga".

I sometimes think she over-mothers us, but then that is what mothers do: worrying to bits. She hasn't given up the practice of phoning the offices of her youngest children to check if they have arrived safely (a constant source of embarrassment for my sibs).

With six of her eight grandchildren in the 2010 Christmas photo. Not present were Calgary-based Sara and Christian Lolarga

In July 2013 with her great grandchildren Machiko Skye, Jared Franco and Kai Myknonos

She is also grandmother to eight and glamorous great-grandmother to three (she is Mama Mermaid). Being a grandmother has softened her as far as tugging the reins of discipline are concerned. After all, lolas are there to spoil and dote on the third and fourth generations.

She has never really retired in her mind. I've overheard her tell the help how she misses the routine of work outside the home. But she yielded to our request to stop for health and safety reasons. She reluctantly agreed to this; there is some regret there. Her activities with the local Legion of Mary have filled the void somewhat, but they still haven't kept her from muttering aloud how she misses earning her keep.

She has become active in Facebook and asking me to track down friends from childhood and adolescence, a near impossible task since she has outlived many of them.

Here's to you and your unique mothering ways, Mommy L.

Brainard is right: "Remember your mothers!" Always!
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