Friday, March 03, 2006

What Ditas Left

Ma. Mercedes Uy Camacho
August 25, 1948 - April 19, 1978

This is my beautiful mother who died at 29. My one regret in life was not having had enough time with her. My sister reminded me of our loss so poignantly when she said, "I wish we had more memories of her so that, at least, we could have conversations with her in our heads."
This picture came as such a gift to us from Mommy's good friend, Tita Cora. Together we once again try to put pieces of her life together in the hope of recapturing even just a spark of her brilliant and passionate presence.

What Ditas Left
by Justine U. Camacho-Tajonera

(Published in the anthology: "Going Home to a Landscape" edited by Marianne Villanueva and Virginia Cerenio, 2003)

My mother left bangles
in her jewelry box,
poems that my father
can no longer find,
paintings of birds breaking
free from cages and
umbrellas catching

She painted me
looking over a butterfly-
sleeve and my brother
in blue and orange
with a look of awe.

My mother left me
a little trail of things:
pictures of her
beautiful, wide-eyed
saying "wow"
over and over,
a gold pendant,
a set of books etched
all over with her analysis
of characters,
bright, bold declarations
as thought I would debate
with her over time.
I recognize my own writing
in her staccato style.

Sometimes when I read
what she scrawled at the
back of her photo album
I cry:
Life is full of sound and
fury, yes.
But full of significance
too. Just you wait and
see, just you wait and
see, just you want and

only three
years with
you, Mommy.

I have a hand-
ful of gifts now,
things you never
would mean so much.

You left me
your eyes,
your wonder,
you left me
my name.


Anonymous said...

Oh sis, I never fail to shed a few tears everytime I read that poem you made for Mommy. It's beautiful. Though it pinches at the void that I have in my heart (all motherless children have that - remember "The Secret Life of Bees ?) But as you said, she's alive in us....we are vestiges of her...Mommy's death anniversary is coming soon, it's April 19th btw, remember she died 9 days after I was born. Love you. --- Des

Anonymous said...

Oh sis, I never fail to shed a tear when I read this poem even if I've read it countless times. It pinches at that void in my heart (all motherless children experience this, remember, "The Secret Life of Bees"?) but it's a bittersweet pain. You're right, we should be thankful for what she left us -- our names...her album..her marginalia...her love. She's in us...we ar a vestige of her. We are our mother's daughters. By the way, Mommy died on April 19th, 9 days after I was born. You should change her date of death. Love you, Des.

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