The 8 to 12-hour trip is all worth it. It always is. I’m back in my hometown.
I never really get to visit as much as I’d hope to. The availability of funds and the free time seldom coincide. Perhaps, it’s just an excuse. (I can feel guilt creeping up.)
Being in the presence of the aunts and my father brings a sense of security. I feel stronger and more grounded in their presence. That’s the one thing that I guess will never change. I’ve caused more than my share of headaches for them and I never felt that their concern faded, not once. It takes time before I could appreciate everything they’ve given. The pride of immaturity kept me from thanking them explicitly. Years later, I don’t have any idea how to make up for that. It seems awkward to initiate moments with the oldies. We were never the expressive type. We live with the silence of emotions. What we do talk about are the local gossip, plans, work, what needs repair… the unemotional stuff.
I am at peace most of the time I am there. Sleeping beside the aunt as I did during the elementary days brings such serenity I’d never be able to experience elsewhere – even if that means I sleep with the sound of the aunts breathing Okay, the sisters call it snoring. The aunt has a breathing problem. It sound the same whether asleep or awake. Maybe a little louder when asleep.
The stay in the hometown is not without flaws. Our home, we worked to deserve being there. We do not own the house. We were fortunate enough to have kind aunts. We kept the house, did the house chores in exchange for the stay. Though we never did feel that we’re workers there.
The home is where the four siblings live. Two old maids, a widow, and one annulled (that would be my father). Three women and one man, all enjoying benefits of the senior citizen card. The second eldest sister who works in the bank lives with them for the time being. Her husband is at sea and their house is still under construction.
There’s the occasional petty conflict but that’s expected. It’s the constant source of amusement for us who visit. There are five sides to every issue in the home. By the time your stay ends, you’ll have heard all their sides and figured out what really happened.
Every morning you’d wake up to the sound of a busy garden. “Well-kept” does not give justice to the tending that garden receives from the four oldies. I never can figure out how they manage to find something to do in the garden. It’s not that big of a garden. But they’re always busy in the morning – everyday.
If I do reach the retirement age, this is where I’d want to live, with the regular bickering and typhoons. I’d save up for a studio type room, elevated, with its own bathroom. It would be made of stones, not cement. I’d want the same material as the ones used for churches. The structure would be elevated in the event of high tide and typhoons.
I’d be doing the daily gardening by then.