Remembering Mom – RIP Brigida Pamaran Avendano – Oct 8, 1930 – Dec 17, 2017

RIP Mom. You were the sweetest, kindest, most devoted soul. I have and always will have a soft spot for you. I will never forget the way You loved and cared for our family.

Jr.

Getting old doesn’t suck. Alzheimer’s sucks. Getting sick sucks.

Grateful for health and my brothers and sisters and family and friends that I will grow old with.

I’ll have a few good cries today but I’ll also be celebrating an amazing woman and mother. Grateful you are now in peace.

– photo collage by Kuya

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EULOGY – Dec 23 – 2017

Remembering Mom – Oct 8, 1930 – Dec 17, 2017
BRIGIDA PAMARAN AVENDANO

Good afternoon. My name is Tomas Jr. On behalf of my brothers and sisters and our whole family, we thank you for coming to pay your last respects and celebrate the life of Brigida Pamaran Avendano.

Born on October 8th, 1930, she passed away at 87 years old last Sunday – December 17th at Banfield Pavilion, a resident care facility near Vancouver General Hospital, where she had been in care for the last 10 years.

We’d like to extend our thanks and gratitude to the doctors, nurses, and staff at Banfield and especially send heartfelt thanks to Amy, who accompanied and cared for her. It was good to know that she was in compassionate hands.

Mom had Alzheimer’s. An awful disease. Leading up to her time in Banfield, her symptoms and episodes of dementia had grown rapidly, her motor skills diminished, and she had lost her ability to speak. Over the last few years, we saw her body nurtured in the best possible way. Without being able to communicate, we were uncertain of how conscious her mind was and what pain she might be suffering.

In her passing, We take comfort that she may now rest in peace.

We won’t soon forget the difficult hardships she faced, but it is not how we will entirely remember her by.

Today, We celebrate her life as she fully lived and how much she was truly loved.

Mom was one of the hardest working woman you’ll ever meet. She was a woman of action constantly on the go. She was driven, stubborn, and focussed. She was fierce when standing up for her values and beliefs.

But all those tough characteristics were largely overshadowed by her gentle kindness, big heart, soft-skin, sweet personality, innocence and selflessness.

She was a beautiful soul who was instantly loved by everyone she met.

There are 3 cornerstones that I saw in mom:

1) her commitment to family

2) her faith in the Catholic church, and lastly

3) her love for food and cooking

Mom’s cooking

Mom was a fantastic, meticulous, and generous cook. It brought us together for plenty of family gatherings. She loved to cook and eat.

It’s a common family topic that pops up that make all our eyes light up each time we talk about all our favourite dishes mom used to make – callos, molo, loya, leche flan, puto, pan de sal, embutido, tocino and longanisa, her infamous kutsinta, and so much more.

We all get our love of food and cooking from her. My siblings would call on her to get advice and recipes and have all become really good cooks themselves.

I’m grateful that We can keep her tradition and legacy as we continue to COOK and EAT, and bring our families together.

Mom was a devout Catholic

I’d like to share my favourite Mom story. Some of you have heard it before. I’ve told it maybe a hundred times to close friends and strangers, and this won’t likely be the last.

Picture this – About 30+ years ago, I was in Grade 9ish – after school, my old high school friend Peter and I went back to my house on 49th and Nanaimo St. – east Van at the time.

I had to stop at home to get something before we went out to meet some other friends. I asked my friend Peter to wait for me in our living room.

That day my mom and dad were cleaning their room. My parents had all these statues most of which were brought all the way from the Philippines – there was a Crucifix, Sacred Heart of Jesus, Virgin Mary, Santo Nino, and a bunch more that they had put out in our living room so they can clean their room. – if you’ve ever seen it, it’s an impressive collection of antiques.

After getting what I needed, I went back to the living room only to find my friend facing the statues, looking agitated and, well, giving the statues the middle finger. Needless to say, I was livid. Feeling pretty disrespected.

Peter followed me as I stormed out of the house. I remember us walking briskly by Corpus Christie church, as he pleaded me to hear him out.

Why would he do that – I thought.

I finally calmed down and he asked me: Do you know what the 3rd Commandment is? I was “Yeah (but really didn’t really know it very well) – so I asked Why?

Then he recited (note this is as I remember it) – 1) Thou shall not kill 2) Thou shall not commit adultery and 3) Thou shall not CREATE any other Gods, for I am a jealous God…

I was dumbfounded as he explained his side of the story and challenged my understanding of my beliefs. I was still miffed at him, but was confused. “CREATE”, I thought … what was going on?

That night I went home and went straight for the big, thick Bible that my parents kept. I had to find out what this “CREATE” was all about.

I found the page, and sure enough… I read the 3rd commandment.

I rushed to clarify this information with my mom. I placed the giant bible on our dining room table where she was busy making patterns for a dress she was sewing.

Keep in mind that my mom and I have always just spoken Tagalog to each other.

She read the commandments out loud, (in her Filipino accent) “Thou shall not kill, Thou shall not commit adultery, Thou shall not create other Gods, for I am a jealous God … “ – she paused.

I pointed to the line on the Bible puzzled, then I asked her why we had the statues.

She paused again, looks at me with those innocent eyes and says (in her Filipino accent): “but we did not create that, we bought that.” 🙂

I remember actually bursting out laughing and rolling on the floor. I looked up and saw that she had a big smile on her face and laughing with me. Her shoulders shrugging up and down.

Mom made us laugh. A lot. It’s not even that she would tell jokes, have funny stories, or crack witty remarks. Her endearing sweet innocence and her ability to laugh at herself like no one else I’ve ever known allowed those around her to let loose and really enjoy her company and be themselves.

That story always makes me laugh and smile. It’s also a reminder of how deep mom’s faith was. I never questioned her again after that.

By definition – FAITH is a “strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof.”

My respect for her faith grew more and more over the years as I observed her involvement in the church.

I especially saw her dedication during the years we became part of St. Matthew’s Parish. That was about 25 years ago. At the time, masses were held at the high school gym.

My parents became pretty involved in building a strong community of friends and parishioners. I witnessed my mom work endless hours into the night on organizing countless fund-raisers. For years, it seemed she was always selling ‘Tickets’. She had notebooks and infinite pages of names and phone numbers she would call to request donations or ask for volunteers.

My sister would reminisce about those days and would joke about how there were probably moments where my mom’s friends may see her at church and subtly walk the other way. They knew if she got to them, it would be really hard to say ‘no’. That smile, that sweet adorable face – how could you not say Yes?

It is only fitting to have her here today. I know how much it meant to her to be part of that mission to help build this church and community. She was grateful for all the people that helped her, who answered her calls, and bought her tickets. I see many of you here. Thank you.

Her commitment to family

Mom was the only daughter of four children – May she find peace in reuniting with her parents and brothers who she deeply cared and looked out for.

She was an adored aunt. Even in distance, she continued to touch my cousins hearts and remain a constant in their life after they lost their father (my mom’s brother) at young age.

She was a caring grandmother, a devoted wife, and a loving, nurturing mother, and a dependable/kind mother-in-law.

As a grandmother

I have lots of memories of seeing Lola B with my nephews and nieces growing up. There were a lot of them so there was lots of babysitting going on throughout the years.

I don’t have kids, but I had a dog she babysat too. His name was Shakespeare, and he Loved my mom, cause she fed him caldereta and made him fat. And I know she loved him too.

As I watched my nephews and nieces grow, so did their love and respect for their Lola. It is a testament to how she treated and cared for them and how her strong, soft, head of the family presence has made an impact on them.

I hear stories of mom’s attempts to discipline them but I can only picture how it may have been hard for them to take her too seriously because of her often comical and gentle nature. She could be firm but mostly, she was a softy, like a cute panda bear.

She found a lot of joy when her grandkids would visit and would be so happy when she’d receive photos of them in the mail. She was very proud and quite sentimental.

(addressing grandkids) I trust that you can feel just how much she loved You. I think she would be very proud of you growing up to be loveable, independent, unique, and as ready to laugh as she was 🙂 Remember to tell your kids about their amazing great grandma.

In-laws

My in-laws all know how much our mom meant to us. Coming into the family, they developed their own special relationship with mom and a genuine fondness and love between them would grow over the years. In mom, they had a mother-in-law that lovingly supported their spouses and cared for their kids. Dependable in every way.

She was protective and fair. I believe they respected her for that.

As a wife

My mom and dad eloped and married in 1955 – 62 years ago. A love story told for another time. My mom and dad affectionately called each other ‘Ling’. Through their challenges, their love was undeniable.

While there were hardships, it was outweighed by all the times I saw them spend time together. Theirs was a loving companionship – whether it be at home, parties, at church, and working together on on all their projects.

As I look at pictures of my mom and dad. It warms my heart to see pictures of them laughing, smiling, holding hands, dancing, enjoying themselves with family, friends, and loved ones.

My dad loved my mom.

There was this one time in my early twenties, my dad took me aside. He noticed that I had been short with my mom and he felt I was disrespecting her.

He asked me why I talked to my mother like that. He said she didn’t deserve to be treated that way and that I needed to watch what I say. He didn’t say this in anger, but with thoughtful and considerate sincerity for my mom’s feelings. I was oblivious at what I had been doing. I’ll never forget that little talk and reminder to be more conscious and aware of how I treated my mom. It became very important to me to watch my words. My dad in his best and own way protected and cared for his wife, his best friend, who deserved to be treated with love and so much more compassion.

My mom loved my dad.

My dad had a lot to be thankful and grateful for to have her by his side. My mom was his number one loyal supporter, My siblings and I believe she was a major force behind the scenes in his success. They would tell me stories of their younger years seeing my mom in action working tirelessly during my dad’s political career in the Philippines, and I personally witnessed it myself in their community and church projects here in Canada.

She was a quiet leader who led by her actions. In many ways, my mom made my dad look ‘great’.

As a mother

My siblings and I had different childhood experiences. Mine was mostly of the time here in Canada, theirs in the Philippines.

In the Philippines, mom was a teacher, ran her own beauty salon, and even had a knack for raising pigs and chickens with my siblings. She was also very active in my dad’s political campaigns and the church as part of the CWL. She was a busy, stylish woman, who always had perfect hair.

In Canada, for my childhood, with my siblings mostly grown up, my parents lived more of a homely lifestyle. Mom made a living as a seamstress at home. They later found their mission in the church and community.

Regardless of age difference and home circumstances, Mom’s loving energy was constant.

Mom was ALWAYS there for us unconditionally. Through hardships and celebrations.

She bailed us out when we were in trouble, took care of us when we were sick.

She taught us family and life values through her actions and integrity.

She filled and nourished our heart and soul with her love and kindness.

And She made us laugh.

Even in her last days, with my siblings and I surrounding her, she was able to bring us together in laughter. There were a few times we laughed out loud in between pretty somber and difficult moments.

She allowed us to find humour even in the most serious moments. I so appreciate this about our family dynamic. It’s something that I will always treasure and will always be grateful we get that from her.

I see a part of mom in each of us, and I couldn’t be more proud. She binds our family and in that, we find our strength and love for each other..

Mom, The WAY You loved us speaks so much louder than any words could ever say.

We say our goodbyes as you say your hellos to loved ones that have preceded you.

This afternoon, I feel her shining smile upon us, as we are about to begin mass here in St. Matthew’s, celebrating her life and faith with family and friends who loved and adored her.

Her kind, gentle, loving spirit will forever remain in our hearts.

We love you Mom!


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