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)
Happy Mother’s Day to Mamang, my Sisters and all the mothers in the world!
For all the lines that I have written,
And every word that I have spoken,
A piece of me is taken.
For every time I send my greetings,
It is my heart that I am sending.
Jeques, 2010. From his “Traveler’s Soliloquies” poetry collection.
I came home to celebrate Valentines with her. I have been thinking lately and some thoughts are worrying me being unattached too long, single since birth and loveless in my 30’s. A question frequents my thoughts recently. I once was asked this question by an old lady and I used to I find it really funny.
“What’s wrong with you?”
But that was 3 years ago, and it’s only lately that the question really sunk in, “Is there really something wrong with me?”
So here I am, home to find out. And the way to get the accurate answer is to go back to the real roots deeply rooted to the love of my mother and here gathered some initial findings. I maybe single, unattached and worried but one thing is sure, I am not really loveless and never been for I am loved by my family, I am especially loved by my mother. Maybe I just really have high standards set for love, and loving. And it’s my mother who raised the bar too high, I wonder if there would ever be someone who could hurdle it.
Here I am pursuing
In endless circles
On and on
Where’s this circular course
Where’s this ring going?
Like the fan blades
In the dining,
Grating, squeaking in the ceiling
Like the propellel
At the boat’s rear
My mother once showed me
Stuck in my memory
Of things turning
Around an axis
I did my laundry
The other day,
And lost myself
With the motion
Of my clothes spinning,
So did my head
Juggling with thoughts
As the Wheels,
The clock running
Round in circles
Where is it going
When it ends where it begins?
I hear an alarm
Of high pitched signal,
My laundy is done.
The machine pukes
My clothes smelling the scents
Of spring and renewal
Like my mind
Finding new meanings:
The fan in the dining
Brings me air
Of homey comfort
Makes beef stew rice topping
Tastes like what my mother
Used to feed me
From my distant memory of home.
The propellel at its rear
“Mamang” directed my young mind
In my first boat ride
Brought me faraway,
Closer to my destination.
As the Wheels,
The clock running
Round in circles
And me pursuing
This ring course,
That some day,
My nephews and nieces
Would grow up
* “Mamang” a name we call our mothers in some regions in the Philippines.
(Jeques, 2009. From his A Traveler’s Soliloquies poetry collection)
“Childhood” oil on canvas, 24×30 by : Jeques B. Jamora, 2009
Art museums and galleries are the places I often visit, and the Art Institute of Chicago is my favorite. It is like the secluded dusty paths I used to trod when I was a child pulling my carts to endless directions in circles that my young mind then imagined.
I am naturally solitary.
There are things that I grew up doing alone, and they are what I really love to do. Against all odds, I silently fought for these things and from where I stand now, I look back to claim my rewards from my little triumphs.
In one of my quiet strolls in the museum communing with the spirits of the artists gone and living, I observed young students in a group sketch session. I was deeply moved, I felt envious and sad. Some thoughts dawned in me: I always do my arts alone, closed doors, dettached from the world. My father was highly critical of my early works, he is the first battle I fought to shield my natural gift from the many forces that discouraged me and my early pursuits in finding my voice as an artist and my soul in my works.
Watching this young students brought me back to my sketching sessions as a kid. Any empty paper and writing tools are my art materials then – give me anything I could sketch on and I could survive long hours alone away from people. I envy these kids doing there arts in the company of their classmates, enjoying art moments with their friends. When they are my age years from now, and they would stroll through this quiet room, these paintings in the wall would remind them of this moment, but more than that, the walls would echo their whispered giggles that would bring back happy memories.
As they weave their memories unaware, I went back to my own. I visited my solitary self struggling to find meaning in what seemed to be senseless dots and lines I put together to create images that was so insignificant then. Little did I know that those dots and lines would bring me to this point, to look back and find the trails I left to guide me back to how and where my journey started.
I started sketching when I was about 3 years old before I learned how to write, when my grip was strong enough to control a pencil or a pen. The moment I first held a pencil, I knew it in my heart that this is something that I would love to do for a lifetime. And that is how my romance with the arts started, like a-love-at-first-grip kind of thing. I remember my mother was my first teacher and our first subject were flowers. She stopped teaching me when my flower sketches look nicer than the ones she taught me. I outgrew the art lessons my mother gave me quick. And then she became my first admirer, my first fan, my first follower and collector of my works. My first art exhibit was in her store as she show my drawings in the pages of her record notebook to friends. That was my version of an art institute.
“flowers” #1 pen and pencil on paper by : Jeques B. Jamora, 2009
But there was a negative energy, too, my first critic: my father. He thought my works were insignificant and told me to do other things. I think the hardest thing he did was when he forced me to use my right hand ~ I was born left handed ~ and at 16, when I was so sure of my decission to take up fine arts, he put me to a nursing school.
I was caught in the middle trying to keep my balance early on: between my encouraging, nourishing, consenting mother and my highly critical, discouraging, tormenting father.
I never had formal education in the arts. The gift is ingrained, I was born with the passion, not even my father was able to control from florishing. So in my room, close doors, alone, I had my sketching session as a kid. It was lonely. There was only one person I would seek every time I finish a piece: my mother. Her sincere appreciation of my works nourished me to keep going. But I have to admit all these years, I seek for the approval of my father which he never gave. After my father died in 2008, I thought I’m free now. I always was!
“The mind and the heart and the soul, like the birds, are meant to soar, set it free. Allow your spirit to fly!”
I walk fast many more group of young kids in drawing sessions while I brouse through the paintings on the walls that flood me with mulititude of thoughts from the past, present and future. Nothing has changed in me much, I still am the kid and art is still a solitary life for me and perhaps I would spend it that way for the rest of my life. I have come to terms with myself and solitude has become a bliss.
I, too, am still that kid who would seek my mother’s appreciation everytime I finish an art piece to get her nod and nourishing words of encouragement for me to go on. Only now I seek that appreciation from people who would chance upon my works, like my mother’s friend in the store she would show my drawings of flowers as a kid.
I still am that kid who fear the criticism of my father that made me rip many pages of my sketches, and toss away many works unfinished. Deep in my heart, I have to admit I still seek for his approval that he was so selfish to give.
I see my father’s image in people who thought my works are insignificant, I find courage in people who tell me otherwise. I still am struggling to find that balance from this opposing forces.
Deep inside this heart, ingrained, is a gift that I’m entrusted to nurture alone, close doors, away from people. I remain that waif inside my room as a child connecting senseless dots and lines to create images hoping that people would find them significant, so I could finally find my grown up version of an art institute, my home, your heart.
and like a desolate soul a lonely waif
I await for you to find me.
May your travels not take you long,
Come fast and love me ~
“Waif” oil on canvas 18×18 by : Jeques B. Jamora
I love you my precious child, my bliss. You carry the sweetest juice of my veins. My costliest joys come from you. You deserve the fullness of my affection. The brightest and the loveliest of all the fruits I bear in my womb and grew on my branches season after season.
Even when you were just about to bloom out of the bud I conceived from a leaf I shed in october, I knew by maternal instinct, that your fate would be different. You attracted a bizarre mob of insects: bees, bugs, ants, butterflies. They all feasted on your sweet nectar. The wind stole you kisses morning and night, and along carried your fragrance too distant. Perhaps, your spirit had reached faraway lands and shores even as a tyke. You were destined to travel, you will go places.
I cling to you the longest. You mellow in my nourishement. I wanted to embrace you forever, but I know, I could not. The hardest of all my tasks is knowing that I have to let you go when I’m done with my duty with you. I fear that that day, I dread the thought. I stayed awake day and night to guard you. I loath the winds for they might snatch you out of my grip. I curse the insects for they are taking too much of you. I resent their carelessand harsh advances. Because I know, being your mother, that you would live a life far more than all that.
But you are already sturdy as the tree that you would become early on. I am relieve from all my anxieties as you surpass, surviving your initial tribulations. I am proud watching you metamorphose into a tiny precious fruit. I cherished our moments together.
We danced and flirted with the winds. At night, we counted and wished upon every stars. We revered the beauty of wild flowers and sniff their exotic perfumes that permeate the gardens and the fields. I welcome the birds that serenade you on my branches. I nourish you with crystal clear water of springs that my roots sip from the nearby streams. I catch and gathered the dew in my leaves to bathe you in the morning. We are cleansed by the cool ppristine showers of the rain. The sun keeps us warmth and dry. I ask the sun to smile at you, but at noon, I leaned over a canopy of my leaves to shield you from the scorching heat of midday rays.
We marvel at the gifts of every sunrise. The sunset blesses us with tranquility and peace. On quiet moonlit nights, I rock you on my cradle to sleep. I watch you close in you slumber, as I sung you lullabies. My soul feels glad at your existence, my heart leaps. I caress your face tenderly with my leaves. One touch, and I felt bliss.
You’re more than everything I asked for,
More than anything I need.
You are my son, my beloved.
Her lullaby fades as she kiss her angel goodnight. She closes her eyes wanting to freeze the moment, but then she, too, falls into a deep blissful sleep.
You breathe me life, so I may live,
You’re the reason that I exist.
You are my mother,
My life, to you I am indebted.
To my mother and all the mothers of writers island and the world.
Happy Mothers Day!
For Writers Island prompt: “Fantasy”