Remembering Ima Once Again

Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your mat, and walk.” Immediately the man became well, took up his mat, and walked.
John 5:8-9

Today is the birthday of Ima. I remember her healing hands and her seemingly endless store of home remedies. She always had agua oxigenada, merthiolate, cotton balls, gauze pads and plaster strips to clean and treat the endless bruises and wounds we three brothers always seemed to have. If we had stomach-ache, she always had that awful tasting paregoric elixir, made easier to swallow with a bottle of Seven-Up. For indigestion and even low-grade fever, there are always Philips Milk Of Magnesia in the house. When we were nursing a lingering fever, she would nurse us back to health with sponge baths with lukewarm water and alcohol. For coughs and stuffy nose, there was Vicks Vaporub. With her tender loving care, we were back to feeling well and good again in no time at all.

Ima had a special way of making people feel good. She was one of the first and few mangulut (beautician? hairdresser?) in the the 1940’s till the 1960’s in Angeles City. Her shop was the 33rd Beauty Shoppe. In a recent to my hometown, I met some old friends and they related stories of how pretty they felt after a visit to Ima’s parlor with their mothers. They would get one of Ima’s hair treatment on their birthdays, or on special occasions like the fiesta, on even on ordinary days just to feel good.

Ima went out of her way to make people feel good. She loved having people at home and the meals she prepared, while of ordinary fare, were always a scrumptious feast to remember and come back for. I guess I got from her my own propensity for inviting people over for a shared meal. She also loved going and visiting friends and relatives during holidays and special occasions. I remember our Christmasses spent in doing the rounds of our families and friends. It was such a joyous practice that I always looked forward to, mainly because of all the aguinaldo and pamasko given to me.

Ima had a soft spot in her heart for the oppressed and the underdog. She would always take the side among her friends and relatives who seemed to get the short end of the stick in life. Nephews and nieces who felt they were misunderstood or who had no one to take their side naturally gravitated to her for solace and comfort. I think she was a favorite aunt among my cousins.

Strange, how I seem to get to know my mother better with the passing of the years. I look at my life and I understand many things better just by thinking about how Ima had handled similar situations.

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