06 January 2017

Conchita Rodas Ballesteros, 1943-2017


My Nanay was born on the 18th of December.  I'm sure our grandparents were so happy to have her, and it would have felt like she was a Christmas present especially for them.

I would like to think that her Christmas was always a special time for her. And so she always strived to make Christmas special for us, her kids, too. My memory of Christmases as a kid is always a time of happiness and celebration.

When it's time to put up the Christmas decorations, my Tatay would bring out the Jackson 5 Christmas album as well as the Gunther Kallmann Christmas record and start playing these on full volume.  All of us would squeal with delight and help out with putting up the decorations.  The succeeding days would see us making decorations and Christmas cards of our own.

We did not have much, but Nanay always made sure that she cooked something special for noche buena.  She would busy herself in the kitchen right after lunch. Spaghetti, salad, pancit, barbecue, were staple. Even a couple of days after Christmas, after all the guests have come and gone, we'd still have so much leftover! Frankly I do not know how they manage it.

They also kept the magic of Santa alive for us.  We would hang stockings on Christmas Eve and sleep a couple of hours past midnight.  Then come Christmas Day, our socks would be bulging full of sweets and we would have presents from Santa!

My Nanay passed away on the 3rd of January. She's been in and out of the hospital the past couple of months.  Knowing her, I believe that she fought on through the holidays because she's still thinking of us.  She didn't want us to be sad during the Christmas holidays, this special time of the year which she always strives to make it special for us, be it through the wonderful cooking, or the gifts that she would personally make for us.

Christmas aside, one of the most unforgettable moments I have with my Nan (as I fondly call her) was when I was in the 3rd or 4th grade. I was burning with fever and kept tossing around my bed, unable to sleep. She roused from her bed and took me by her side. She turned on the TV and we both watched this rather fascinating stop-motion movie. We both kept up until the movie finished and I had a glass of warm milk.

Nanay, please look after me and our family.  Words cannot express how I feel now that you're gone, but I know that you are in a better place.  I'm sorry that I was not able to do more for you, and that I'm not there with the rest of my brothers and sisters. I will always celebrate Christmas in the same happy way that you showed us, and I hope that you will always be here, celebrating with us.

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