By Minka Tiangco
Editha Celedonio’s family stands out in a sea of flower vendors outside the La Loma Catholic Cemetery in Caloocan City.
In her small flower kiosk where she sells orchids and radosts for as high as P50 per bundle, she is accompanied by her three daughters, one of them appears to have spasms.
“This is my baby,” she said affectionately as she gently placed her hand on the knee of Bernadette Celedonio, her youngest child.
Bernadette, 26, was born with cerebral palsy, which affects her speech and motor skills.
“But don’t let her illness fool you,” Editha boasted. She said her daughter could blurt out many words, could operate a cellphone better than her, and even finished a special education course in the Centro Escolar University.
Some might take pity on Editha for having to look after Bernadette, but the 60-year-old flower vendor asserted that taking care of her youngest child is a breeze.
And after some of the tragedies she has experienced, she considered having Bernadette around as a huge blessing.
Editha was content with her simple life. She had been in the flower-selling business for 20 years, and she had a husband and five children who would help her occasionally in selling.
But in 2011, her husband, Bienvenido Celedonio, died due to diabetes.
Her family suffered financially after the head of the family’s death because now they only had Editha’s flower business as their main source of income.
Before they could fully recover, tragedy struck again when Joven Celedonio, one of Editha’s sons, killed himself over marital problems, she said.
Both were buried at the La Loma Catholic Cemetery.
“It took me two years to recover,” Editha said, but even now the memory of those incidents seems to make the flower vendor deeply sad.
Still, she persevered for her family’s sake. She attended seminars to improve her flower-arranging skills and taught her children what she knew so they could continue the business.
Now, her children Annie, Gener, and Gina Celedonio and 14 grandchildren either help her sell flowers or have their own flower kiosks. She even jokingly called herself the “pioneer” of their family flower business.
In the middle of the interview, Bernadette called out to her mother.
“Ma, ‘di maubos (Ma, all the flowers haven’t been sold yet),” she said.
“Mauubos din ‘yan (Don’t worry, we’ll sell all of them),” Editha assured. “Then, we’ll get to visit your father and brother inside.”