People Are Getting Old


I am not sure when it started.

Or maybe it has been happening and I have been too busy not to notice.

When I was young my Mom used to walk fast, even faster than me. I have a memory of me and her walking in the noisy and smelly streets of Baclaran to attend church. She is a devoted Catholic that she cannot miss novenas on Wednesday's. She was taller than me and she would drag me along the crowds. She told me to be careful and to be aware of the people around me and the cars passing by. Everything was happening at the same time, it's difficult to focus and I was a scared kid. I grew up in Molino, a municipality in Cavite located an hour away from Manila (not counting the traffic). This area where I had spent my childhood was a countryside, that when we first moved there were cows, more cows than cars in the streets. There were also cow shit and dog shit in front of the house. The city was a shock for a ten-year-old me. I was thin and used to slouching. I got dark eye bags even though I sleep at 9 pm. My Mom, on the other hand, was an epitome of a woman. I idolized how she looked beautiful and composed. I used to borrow her fashionable blouses whenever there's a party in the school. I felt like an adult. She was a housewife while my Dad worked in Hong Kong. We're not rich, we only had enough. Our meals were not extravagant. Every now and then, my Mom would borrow money from a friend just to pay our tuition fees. In the Philippines when a member of your family works abroad, you are considered to be someone with money. It's not true. It's also annoying when people think as such, they would insensitively still ask for pasalubong when someone went back home. People wants a piece of you, nevertheless, you would still give because you want to be nice. You would still share even if you had nothing.

My Dad who was shorter than my Mom. He used to carry me on his back, and I was a fat heavy kid. Every time he went back to the Philippines to visit us, he would bring Barbie's for me and my sister. I kept on asking for dolls until one day I asked for books. I, later on, realized that my Dad can't read that much of English. He got the Harry Potter books correctly, but not the Harry Potter DVD which turned out to be in Cantonese subs. We still watched it for around five times, though. Imagine, Daniel Radcliffe speaking in Cantonese! One lunch time during Dad's vacation in the Philippines, he went missing when we were sure we left him in the room. We looked around the house until we went back to the same room and found him hiding underneath the bed. He had troubles coming out so my sister and I helped by pulling him out. We were with my Dad two weeks a year, we never went to Hong Kong to visit him. It was only my Mom who would. I remember holding the tears every time we will drop him at the airport, thinking when will we see him again. He would call us every week. He also never misses any birthday or holiday to send us cards. Some cards were fancy with lights and music. My sister and I would create our own cards. We would draw and design our cards a month before his birthday or Christmas. Enclosed with the card were our pictures developed from 36-shot films.

Things started to change when my brother was born, I was fourteen years old by then. That was also the time when the financial crisis hit Hong Kong. With 3 mouths to feed, we felt the belt tightened. My responsibility being the eldest also grew. I was a teenager and I somehow felt a lot of things were expected from me. I started to lie a lot about my whereabouts when I craved for someone to listen to me - a teenager thing? I met people that if my parents would have known, they surely would get mad at me. In short, I kinda grew up and started exploring a lot of new things on my own. 

I moved to Hong Kong with my Dad and I was pushed to work when I was eighteen years old without any experience. I was the only hope. They expected me to save the family. I felt like I was forced unprepared to the outside world. I was really scared and confused at the same time. A lot of decisions were made after another and if there were two words to describe me, that would be courageous and stupid. I got married and continued lying to them until I could not hide it anymore. They accepted it eventually and love my husband like their own son. Things were not perfect but we got by. We lived on our own independently. I told myself that I would work things out and in fact, I did. I managed to turn everything around until I reached the point where the money I earned can buy a house and lot in Cebu and I can also afford traveling. 

Perhaps it was during that time when I was got so caught up with reaching my goals or dreams, that I forgot that things were happening to my family too. We still had the weekend get together dinner, and when we sat down face to face, we tried to update each other on our lives. However most of the time, I don't think our communication is effective. Maybe we were too tired to listen to each of our complaints.

Fast forward, my Mom started her own business and became her own boss and she doesn't need to borrow money anymore. Now people are coming to her for work. My Dad, on the other hand, developed anxiousness, maybe sort of a mid-life crisis and I can only support him to the best that I can. Most of the time, I was clueless on how to help them when they were feeling down. In my eyes, they are still my parents and I was actually expecting them to know better than me. When they tell me about some problems, I felt useless because all I did was listen. 

My parents are in their fifties. My Mom walks at a slower pace now, that I needed to adjust mine just to walk together with her. My Dad who used to joke around when I was young, now has lost his sense of humor. I don't really hear him laugh anymore.

At the moment, I am in the midst of reflecting what is happening. All I want now is for the time to stop as I contemplate what my next steps are going to be. I wanted to make people happy but how can I do that? I am only talking about my parents and I got so many people in my life with similar situations. I wanted to be there for them but things have changed a lot. I have a favorite aunt, my Mom's half sister, who used to bring us stuff (magazines and books) when we were young. I fell in love with reading because of her. The last time I visited her, I almost could not recognize her. She was thin and old when I remembered her to be healthy. There was sadness in her eyes. And when I asked her how she was, she said she was fine. 

They are not the only one who are getting old. I am too. I am still "courageous" but because I have learned so much, I didn't want to commit mistakes again and I wanted to be careful. For some reason, I hated myself for that. I felt I am not courageous enough and my world has become toxic. I easily got angry with small things. I have become so sensitive that small things affect me. I now sleep late and hope that my concealer is good enough to hide a different shade of dark under my eyes. Things have changed, but is it for the better?

I'm broken hearted. 

It's taking me days to finish this piece as I wanted to put a conclusion. Should I let this feeling go? Is it just me thinking of these things? Growing old is normal. Changes are inevitable. All I want to do is make them happy. It sounds simple but if I give out love, that means I will also be able to receive it, right? That's what they said in their poems and songs! Cherish the small things? Make the memories count? Spend as much time with them? Make time your friend by using it right. How about love? Is this really all we need?


I think that's the only thing left to do. 

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