Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Back to normal?

There is this one very strange thing about our being an OFW (Overseas Filipino Worker) family. It is this eerie feeling that “normal” family life resumes after Papa has left for another contract abroad.

Does that seem odd to you? It is, even for me who’s been living that life everyday for the past ten years. I don’t want to accept it as “our truth”, but there it is. There is no denying the fact that no matter how loved Papa is, and no matter how much we cherish every moment he spends with us, those times together often pass so swiftly, one is sometimes left wondering whether they had happened at all.

Having him with us is vacation time, a break from routine, time off the “normal”. Routine is Mama and Abby alone doing our usual stuff together … Normal is Mama as both mother and father … Mama being her usual boring self, the
no-fun-at-all-kind-of-boring-mom-who-always-says-NO-NO-NO that Abby always complains about to her dad … normal is Mama making all decisions and having all the burdens of everyday life falling on her shoulders alone.

Vacation time from our usual everyday life is having Papa filling our home with laughter as he takes time off banging his hammer or fixing whatever needs to be fixed around the house to do a quick dance for us, gyrating before us with all the grace of a bamboo pole.

Vacation time means endless squeals of delight coming from Abby and her friends Carla and Jeina as they played hide and seek with Tito Nonoy … or early morning trips to Palinpinon where Abby and Papa liked to make suroy … and coming home with eyes wide with excitement as they told stories of hot springs, foul-smelling steam or gigantic balete trees discovered along the way.

Vacation time is Mama taking the passenger seat and not having to worry about navigating that obstacle course we call the Dumaguete streets … it is a time when Mama figuratively hands over that mantle of responsibility she has so gotten used to wearing to its rightful owner. It is also a time of struggle, when after having gotten used to holding the reins of control for so long, one has to consciously check one’s impulses with the constant reminder: the boss is already home.

But with each departure comes the end of that vacation time. Then it’s back to … yes, our normal lives.

Sadly, this is the tragedy being lived everyday by every OFW family, where more often than not, the normal family is an incomplete family.

1 comment:

RTS said...

Hi,
Cathy and I both knew right away that your husband had returned to sea because you had started writing again.It was very nice meeting you all in Dumaguete...you have a nice family.I know you miss your husband;I am only away from my wife and child hours at a time....not months. I know it isn't easy for the three of you. Take care.regards from Cathy (and JP:))