“I always say, God will take care of us after we’re dead – we have to take care of now until death!” I finished reading the paragraph and uttered a silent prayer before answering the phone.
There must be something wrong back home, I thought. Nobody calls me at 2 o’clock in the morning.
“Tiya is gone,” my sister said after I punched the answer button on my mobile phone.
“Yes,” she said. “I told her to just go to sleep and rest, and she was gone.”
“It’s time,” I said.
Tiya Sensyang was 85 years old.
She died as the last ripe lanzones fruits in her beloved Tipsong fell on the ground. It’s the tail-end of the lanzones season back home.
Last Sunday my sister sent me a box of lanzones and mangosteen. And I remembered my aunt.
When we were young, Tiya would always bring us to Tipsong on her small boat to harvest lanzones and mangosteen.
It was Tiya who taught us the best way down to the waterfalls where we would spend the whole day enjoying the water.
It was her who taught me how to paddle the binigiw from the mangroves in Lombog, through the river, and into the streams of Tipsong. It was her who taught me how to brew coffee, prepare puto, binubod, sikwate, and cook canned sardines with odong and malunggay leaves for lunch.
She was the strict aunt who would tolerate our childish escapades and who would secretly give us coins to buy tira-tira and “cotton candy” during fiesta.
When we were in college, Tiya would never forget to hand us (secretly so that our parents would not know) 50 pesos as baon to buy pan so that we would not get hungry during our trip either to Manila or Zamboanga.
She was the aunt who never forgets. She will not be forgotten. Tiya can now rest in peace. She took care of us, now God will take care of her.
Indeed, she can now go to sleep. Daghang salamat, Tiya.