Lorna B. Jamora (my mother)
Lorna, mother/grandmother/great grandmother
It’s my first drive interstate,
His first claim of the sky.
Me, cruising country roads,
Him, embarking on a flight.
Our paths interlaced
Like unlikely threads in the loom
Woven to a peculiar story:
The Whooping Crane
Their natural wildlife refuge,
My birthday weekend getaway.
I hear the flocks’ hooting cries.
While alone in the car,
I drive, holding a quiet cry.
The mother crane
Trains his wings for migratory flights
Like my mother once propelled me
To arrive here.
How far love
Could send their offspring
To boundless possibilities?
The migratory crane
Claiming our corners
Of the world,
In the skies of infinite chances
On parallel flights
For different reasons
Aiming dissimilar destinations
Loved by our mothers
“Tyke Oar,” oil on canvas 18×20 by Jeques B. Jamora, 2009
I call her mamang, she taught me make my first paper boat and paper plane that made my imagination fly and sail to reach boundless possibilities. She showed me and taught me and gave me simple wisdom so I would reach distances from simple beginnings. Mamang knew it in her heart early on that my vessel, frail as it seemed, would take sail in time. She believed. She prepared me for it. She gave me the best gift as a child: an oar so I could paddle my vessel, cross the ocean and arrive to places she may not see in her lifetime, but dreamed for me to conquer.
I remember my first real boat ride as a tyke, it was the first time I was going to travel the ocean on board a motor boat, but what made it memorable was when she showed me another way a sea vessel moves forward telling me about the propeller, and brought me in the rear of the boat to see how it works. That simple tour to that part of the boat, the simple knowledge I learned that day and the many things mamang taught me were genial whisks that propelled me: empowering my young mind not to fear to embark in life’s voyages and to dream about arriving to distant shores to find my harbor that all begun from my first boat ride.
My mother is the real propeller of my journey. She doesn’t teach professionally, but I thought she’s the best teacher we had as kids. She knew her students too well. Her maternal instinct clearly dictates what we are capable of doing. She gave up her dreams too young and started a family with our father – the real educator – and we became her dream, choosing a lifetime career of a full-time mother to her four children. She doesn’t get any recognition for her hard works, never got a promotion, but was given many titles through the years. Her nurturing extended to her nine grandchildren and now to her great grandson, adding yet another title of great grandmother to her multi-tasked vocation. My father retired from his job as a professor in 2004, and passed away in 2008, but Mrs. Lorna Bantillo Jamora remains our teacher at home ever nurturing; taking added responsibilities as matriarch to the still young and growing family orphaned early by the late Dr. Leonardo Jamora.
Mamang remains tireless like a propeller going circles, doing routine works at home, pushing the family to directions that our individual journeys are taking us. It took me many years to fully understand the depth of her sacrifices. In 2006, I migrated to Chicago, leaving my hero not given the honor she deserves. My travels took me to Wisconsin last summer for my birthday to see the magnitude of her heroic deeds for the family reflected in the open skies of Kenosha in an unusual encounter with a flock of whooping cranes: the mother crane training her offspring to fly. The scene mirrored the love of all the mothers in the world for their children; it mirrored the propeller that once pushed my fragile vessel to reach the distance at 37.
I started to draw at 3 just when my grip was strong enough to maneuver a pencil. The moment I first held a pencil, I knew it in my heart it’s something I would love to do for a lifetime. It was like a-love-at-first-grip kind of thing, and it was my mother who introduced me to my first love. Mamang discovered and guided me refine my first artistic attempts of senseless dots and taught me to connect them with rough lines forming my first art subject of flowers. She stopped teaching me when my flower sketches looked nicer than the ones she taught me and became my first fan and follower who acquired and collected my earliest artworks lost to termites of time, but never in my memory.
“Flowers,” pencil and pen on paper drawing collection by Jeques B. Jamora, 2009
My first art portfolio was her record book, and my first exhibit was in her store when she showed my drawings, filed in her store’s record book to friends. My daily drawing sessions with her before I went to grade school was my version of an art institute that I never had the chance to attend since my father was against the idea of my becoming an artist. He was my first critic that made me ripped pages of my earlier works and tossed them to the garbage, but in many instances I picked again motivated by the ever nurturing words of my mother who through the years inspired me to salvage my gift from the rubbles of lost hope and elusive chances. She was the only person I would seek as a kid to show my works every time I would come out of the room where I used to lock myself to do my arts – away from the criticism of my father who thought I could be anything but an artist. When my father discovered I was left-handed, he trained my right hand and lost my direction, straying in the map to my destiny printed in the palm of my left hand that used to draw rough dots and lines that my father thought insignificant. He never thought I was good enough as a son, but I tried and became a nurse to please him, and thought I would never have the chance to draw again. It’s the magnanimity of the love of my mother that helped me redeem my gift and made me understand the relevance of my father’s purpose to my arts: like the waves in the uncertain ocean, his opposition to my dreams challenged me to find my way amidst the opposing current of the tides, and I did. I’m grateful to my father for training the muscles of my will to persevere. I thank my mother for standing by me through the turbulent seas.
Just like in the past when my confinement in a room was the time spent to do my arts, it was solitude working abroad that reconciled me to my first love: revisiting the yellowed pages of memory, finding the lost map now printed in both my palms re-discovering my gift after the storm; only now I’m not anymore locked in my room, but away in a foreign land finding the elusive chance to follow the will of my heart. And that’s how I started painting again. More than the material things I regularly send home, it’s my art portfolio that I’m most proud about to show my mother during my home-coming after I finished my first painting collection, “While You Are Away: Memories from Home.” It chronicles my enduring love affair with the arts and pays tribute to the caring hands that accepted my flaws, and once guided my left hand to create beautiful flowers as a child. My mother, the unsung propeller of my vessel, continually propels me to defy charted terrains to find the harbor of my future. She is content watching me sail, ever supportive. Her life remains confined in the bottom of the vessel of our family like a tireless propeller going circles, keeping our home so life would be easier for her children, grandchildren and now for her great grandson. She did the extreme sacrifice so we would all reach the distances she doesn’t dream for herself, but believe we would conquer like the mother crane training her offspring for migratory flights.
You’re more than everything I asked for,
More than anything I need.
You are my child, my beloved.
You breathe me life so I may live,
You’re the reason of my existence.
You are my mother,
My life, to you I am indebted.
HAPPY 63rd BIRTHDAY to my mother, LORNA B. JAMORA on November 27, 2010
My Mother and I (Baguio City, Philippines, summer 2010)