I’ve been missing my mom a lot lately.
Let me begin by clarifying which one I mean when I say that. My “mom” is the woman who adopted and raised me. Her name was Nole (pronounced: NO lee)… well technically it still is her name.
I’m sure it’s all the family discussions that have been taking place lately because of our approaching wedding. Many of the wedding traditions remind me that my mother is no longer here with us and won’t be sharing in any of this with me. It hurts when I think about it. I really miss my mom.
Until last night I had failed to realize that we’ll be getting married one month to the day before the 22nd anniversary of my mother’s passing. Sometimes it’s hard to believe that so much time has already passed, and yet it also feels like another life time ago.
My mom was born in the late 30’s in the Philippines. She rarely ever told me any stories of her childhood. After she passed away I learned that perhaps she didn’t have a lot of happy memories of her youth. There is one story she told me about that still haunts me.
When the Japanese invaded the Philippines during WWII my mom was still a small child. She told me about a time the Japanese armies were sweeping across the country heading toward her village. Her family packed up what they could and left their farm to hide further away. She said she remembers watching the chickens try to follow them as they left.
I asked why they had to leave the chickens behind. I have always had an affinity with chickens… I don’t know why, but I adore them.
She explained that they made noise and couldn’t be silenced to avoid being found. Apparently sometimes they would hide below ground in a makeshift shelter that was camouflaged, but the chickens had previously given away their location or the location of other villagers. It wasn’t particularly clear. Honestly, at that point I was still focusing on the chickens being left behind. I’ll explain more of that in a minute.
My mother also talked about stories villagers heard concerning Japanese soldiers going into villages, tossing a random baby into the air and impaling it upon their riffle bayonet.
Years after my mother passed my father told me about a story he heard from my grandmother.
Grandma was on the front steps of the house combing my mother’s hair just as a pair of Japanese soldiers were walking by. One stopped, came over to my grandmother, took the comb from her hand and gently combed my mother’s hair for a bit before walking on.
The things I took away from these stories were:
- War is hell.
- Even your enemies are human, may have families, and could likely be missing their own children as well.
Compared to the world my mother grew up from, I have lived an extremely privileged life. I am grateful that she and my father adopted me.
When we went to the Philippines in 1975 I bonded with the chickens. I had created some toy from an empty box of matches, string, and discarded rice grains they had sorted out from a nearby house. (I just remember a big pile of rice with a bunch of women sitting around it sorting the grains and kicking out the bad ones.) I grabbed all the discarded grains and stuffed them into this match box, and dragged it by the string behind me. Like I was walking my dog, which was back home and I missed terribly. What do you want from me, I was only 5 years old at the time.
Anyway, my mother described it as though I was the pied piper of chickens! They were following behind me in every direction I walked because the match box had slowly slid open a little and was leaving a trail of rice grains behind.
Juno Reactor is a musical and performing act known for the cinematic fusion of electronic, orchestral, and global music.
Juno Reactor – God is God