SISTERS: “Children of the same family, the same blood, with the same first associations and habits, have some means of enjoyment in their power, which no subsequent connections can supply… ” (Jane Austen, Mansfield Park, 1814)
The last of my siblings to be born is my youngest sister. She was born when I was in my junior year in high school. She was the accidental baby (the rhythm method gone astray). Mama was in her late 30’s so it was a difficult pregnancy. She was born by caesarian section. Our father pointed out that she is different from all of us – she was the only one born in the hospital, by CS and she was the only one that was bottle-fed. So Papa named her Maria Eva.
The first three months of her life was hard for everybody. She cried endlessly at night (I think she was a colic baby) and unless you carry her and sing to her lullabies she would not sleep. But after that, she was the happiest and healthiest baby. She was the joy of our family. Everyone wanted to spoil her. She was very close to our brother Jun who taught her how to play chess and do additions before she was in Kinder. At first, Marlene, who was the baby of the family until Eva was born, resented the attention the new addition to our family was getting. Growing up, when they would have argument, Marlene would tell Eva that she was not our real sister – that she was switched in the hospital when she was born. So Eva would cry endlessly and she would only stop when Papa assures her that it was just a joke.
She was almost two years old when I left Buhi to study college in Manila. When I would come home for the semester or summer break, I always have something for her – a toy, a book or new clothes. One summer, she went to Manila with our parents. We were at SM City and I needed to withdraw money from the ATM machine so she volunteered to enter my PIN. She was so fascinated when she saw the money coming out of the dispenser. I jokingly told her that there was someone inside who was counting the money and she believed me! When we arrived home, she told my father about her discovery and it took a while for her to realize that it was the machine doing all the counting. We still have a good laugh about it to this day!
When she was about 6 years old, Eva was hit by a passenger jeep while trying to cross the street. It was the scariest day for our family. It happened a few days before the town fiesta. So that year, there was no celebration in our house – no food on the table, no visitors – since Papa and Mama were in the hospital caring for her. The scar on her forehead as a result of the accident is still visible to this day.
After high school, it was Eva’s turn to go to Manila to study and we lived together until I left for the US. I was the typical, strict Ate. I monitored her class schedules and friends that she went out with, made sure she got good grades and most of all – made sure she did not have a boyfriend until she had received her college diploma (the golden rule from my parents which we all have to follow or else!). I never found out if she followed that rule – maybe she did or she just did a good job hiding it from me. But she did graduate in college and even followed my advice when she cannot decide which job offer to accept. And she told me she was happy she followed my advice for she really enjoy working at Philhealth and her job allowed her to transfer in Bicol so she can live closer to our parents.
I am so grateful that my sister grew up to be the kind of person she is now – a good daughter, sister, aunt and friend. When our brother Jun died, Eva was Mama’s comfort and strength. She also joined Barkadahan Ni Sto. Domingo that I hope like me, have enriched not only her spiritual life but also with true friends for life.
On Saturday, March 17, 2012, the bunso of our family is getting married. It took a while for her to find and choose the right One. But when she finally found the One, he was the right One. Even their names compliment: Adam and Eva – the first man and woman to be partners in life.
So, Eva, dear sister, as you enter into this new chapter in your life, I wish you all the best. May you and Adam have a happy life together. May God bless you with healthy children and give you both the wisdom to raise and nurture them.
A strong marriage is built with tiny actions, one step at a time. It is sustained by the action that you will do for each other every day of your lives. Be forgiving and patient with each other. Learn from your mistakes. Be faithful to your marriage vows. Accept that there are some things that cannot be changed. So pray that both of you will have the patience to deal with it and the courage and wisdom to change the things that you can. Be generous to spend your time with each other, with your children, with our family and with your new extended family. For in the end, being with the people you love is what matters most.
I love you, Evie….Thank you for being a part of my life.