OVERWHELMING. This one word really sums up that one thing we all call “Motherhood.” From pregnancy to giving birth, to post-partum blues or even depression, breastfeeding, and that constant nagging worry of how to raise a child in this world. Some moms are blessed to have partners to help them navigate through all these exhausting, not to mention “putting your lives at risk” journeys but some are not lucky and have to endure everything alone. Some moms may only have to focus on a single child or two or three.
I am a mom too and trust me when I tell you raising one kid really makes you burn out in ways you can never picture. But how about raising 10 children? I cannot envision having to do everything I am doing multiplied by 10. It may be overwhelming to imagine, but it is not impossible. Because I personally know someone who has done it and made the impossible possible.
Her name is Juanita Villarin Palo. Born on the 23rd of August, 1927 – the same year when Governor General Leonard Wood died (7th August, 1927). One leader may have passed on, but another leader was born. She is a woman of strength and compassion. She was born with one heart but little did she know that she was born with a heart that could love many. She may not have led a country, but she has led a unit that has produced generations of professionals, fun, loving, and compassionate people. It is true that whatever you give to the Lord, He will multiply. In His word, he says “May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you.” (1 Thessalonians 3:12). Imagine one heart multiplied by ten and that ten was multiplied and overflowed to the rest of the generations.
Mothers are proof that God is alive and in control of everything. Mothers nurture. Mothers guide. Mothers comfort. Mothers forgive. Mothers protect. The list goes on. But the most important is, mothers pray. One of the many factors many of us are alive today is because of our mothers’ prayers. And I am very proud to have a grandmother who prays and that is why I regard her to be a strong, resilient woman. She lost her husband on Valentine’s Day of 2004, but that loss was turned into a gain for she transferred all the love she should possibly give from Tatay to all of us knowing that she will be honoring him more by loving us more. Imagine losing your partner but still standing strong despite the pain because you know in your heart there are ten others (and more) who look up to you for strength and comfort. Imagine losing the love of your life but still managing to compose yourself knowing there are 10 others (and more) who seeks you for hugs, for encouragements, for hope even though your own heart is breaking because you can never have that hug, that encouragement, that hope from your partner who has been with you for 55 years. Imagine having to smile despite the pain. Imagine having to wake up and rise notwithstanding the hurt because you have to live for those 10 others (and more). Only God could have sustained a person through a season of loss and grieving. Only God could turn mourning into dancing, and that is why I am proud that my grandmother is a woman who prays and serves the Lord.
We call her Nanay. Beautiful inside and out. She loves so much, cares so much that her love was never diminished even when passed on to the “apos sa tuhod”. She is a provider that even her last cent she will freely give to those she thinks need it more. She may sleep a lot these days but her fragile self was never a hindrance to reach out to those she loves dearly. She is undoubtedly selfless, for she even stretches out her love even to those who are not her own, making sure nobody is left out. She is an embodiment of generosity, extending to those who need to feel accepted and wanted. Her love knows no distance – no continent can ever stop her from showing how much she cares for all of us.
Ninety-three years old and still strong. A fighter beyond compare. No sickness can ever halt her ways of being a mother and a grandmother to us. 93 years old and still full of love. 93 years old and still ready to forgive, ready to swoop in and save the day. 93 years old and still teeming with compassion. 93 years of a roller-coaster of motherhood but still keeps on praying for all of us. She is a blessing, truly God’s gift to all of us. She’s a sister, a grandmother, a partner, a friend. Our listener, our stronghold, our shield, an inspiration, and our real-life superhero. She may not be a famous figure known to the world, but she is everything in our hearts and in our lives.
Happy Mother’s Day, Nanay!
We love you so much.