Jullie Y. Daza

Mother’s Day has come and gone, but as a mother-in-law my secret wish is that Hallmark greeting cards would invent a Mother-in-Law’s Day also.

True, every mother-in-law was a mother until her daughter or son got married. That’s how families grow, and soon enough mother becomes a grandmother. Jokes that people – mostly men – told about mothers-in-law have become a thing of the past, for better or for worse. A sign of the times as sons-in-law learned to behave or as mothers-in-law learned to keep their distance?

Last Mother’s Day I received flowers, gifts, greetings from my children and the spouse of one of them, yes, the one who acknowledges me as his mother-in-law. Little tokens of affection mean a lot to old people, the more one hears how the elderly become “invisible” with their graying hair, their halting steps and careful movements when they climb stairs, cross the street.

My mother-in-law, Mama Angeles, lived to nearly a century, but I never pictured her in my mind or memory as looking elderly. Without fail she went to the market in faraway Paco, Manila, once a week in her car, driven by her faithful Mang Enteng, who also drove her every day at sunset to visit the grave of her son David at the memorial park. After we lost Mama, Papa Gabriel would sigh as he stood by the window, “The day is so long without her.”

I have fond memories of my mother-in-law. She was almost Chinese in her fondness for mahjongg (whenever one of her four amigas went missing, she would recruit my youngest child, 10 or 12 at the time, even though most days Penny would clean them out). Mama was a great cook, Spanish dishes being her forte. She was a great believer in soft-boiled eggs and dalandan juice, practically chasing after her grandchildren to feed them their breakfast. At one time, to punish her youngest son by forcing him to live away from the family, she would, just the same, send Enteng to his rented apartment with his breakfast, every day without fail.

If only engaged couples could meet their future mothers-in-law before tying the knot – ! Would such an event take away the fun, and the mystery, before the happily-ever-afters are exchanged?