Tessie Araneta Macasaet was a gentle force. She had the courage to question societal norms, but she went about her days with a sense of responsibility, grace, and restraint
My mother had an inherent strength about her. She had the courage to question societal norms, which was not usual for her generation. Yet mom was no rebel. She was, in fact, quite the “obedient daughter”—always going about her days with a sense of responsibility, grace, restraint, and gentleness.
Growing up, I felt we had different characters, which may have contributed to some disagreements. I have now realized that it wasn’t so much our differences, but my unresolved inner conflicts that made me act the way I did. It is also possible that these petty things were a result of many generations of mother-daughter relationships.
Then one day, everything turned.
Love became brave, braver than I ever could have fathomed. Mom was living on borrowed time. When this happened, nothing but love mattered. Love for a mother. Love for family and chosen friends. Love and time were everything. It was all that my mom and I had. The reality of the situation healed us.
Mom has left me with a void, it’s true, but she has filled my life with experiences and memories that will always live deep within me. I carry her in every inch of my being as I, too, was in every inch of hers. I often turn to some memories, and the lessons attached to them, for guidance.
Life is short. For every choice we make, there is a reaction. Her stories from her youth—like studying in different countries—had a great impact on me. She told me that her father had asked her to return home earlier than I think she would have wanted, which meant a few forgone dreams. It taught me to pursue what I want in life without compromise.
Stay curious. Her choice of books served as a compass that revealed things that made sense to her soul and her heart.
I still agree and disagree with her voice in my head, though it is no longer out of conflict. All I hear now is guidance. It comes with a wisdom that is deeply rooted in love.
Dress for yourself and no one else. My mom had exquisite taste in dressing. I once watched her move about during a formal event, looking elegant wearing a black off-shoulder dress. I remember a man walking up to her to say hello. He placed his hand on her shoulder and left it there a little too long. I distinctly remember my mom lifting his wrist, while carrying on with the conversation, eventually walking away putting that man in his place.
Have a strong connection to God. Mom turned to a meditation group for spiritual strength, unaffected by the noise of everyone about her choice. She never felt the need to explain herself to anyone, but she made it clear to me that she respected all religions, though it was through meditation that she felt a clear and powerful connection to a Higher Power.
Take care of the body. Mom became a vegetarian in 1985. For a few years now, I’ve come to agree that there is a mind-body connection and our diet plays a big role in that interdependence.
Choose what makes you happy. At 17, I asked my Mom what I should take up in university and her response was exactly those words.
Her life has formed me from the time I was born to the time of her last breath. Magically, it continues to do so, even years after my mother said goodbye. I still agree and disagree with her voice in my head, though it is no longer out of conflict. All I hear now is guidance. It comes with a wisdom that is deeply rooted in love. The love I have for my husband, my family, and truly special friends.
This love dissipated the fears that held me back from being who I truly wanted to be. Now I have the confidence to go after my dreams, be the best version of myself, knowing that this love is guiding me.