As another year comes to a close, I wanted to take the time to list down a couple of items I am thankful for covering the period December 14, 2013 to December 13, 2014. This is Part 4 – Numbers 20 to 26.
20. The Soriano Family. When I got married, I wasn’t all that close yet to Tosh’s family, but as the years flew by, they have become my own family. The love and attention they shower on my kids is just unparalleled. I always know I could count on someone to help out with the kids and even to help me personally. With both my parents gone, Nanay and Tatay have become my own parents. They are always there when we need them and we always try to make it a point to bring the kids over on the weekends to visit, even if they would raid Nanay’s sari-sari store, or drain Tatay’s cash stash. I could always count on Tatay to help me out when I have cash flow issues, and Nanay provides the same assurance to Tosh. I also gained three sisters (Edna, Liza and Ate Nita), 1 brother (Onat) who provides free medical advice and electrical services, 2 brothers-in-law (Rodel and Chris) and a host of cousins, nephews, nieces, Aunts and Uncles who have become a part of my life.
21. Mendoza Family. I am thankful of course for my Mendoza Family. I love the fact that we are very closely knit and that we truly enjoy each other’s company. I am happy we have our family endeavors LRF and ZBDG’EE and that we have an excuse every month to bond whenever we have official meetings.
22. Sisters. I love my sisters and through all the hardships and challenges, we always have each other’s backs. Ate Marie hurdled a major life-threatening disease and she has recovered remarkably. Ate Mini is living with a milder one, but she has remained her usual bright and talkative self. My sisters-in-law, Ate Marissa and Ate Baby, in spite of the death of my two older brothers, these sisters continue to be an integral part of my life.
23. Nephews and Nieces. I remember all of them as babies, but they are mostly all grown up. They are now my drinking buddies during family gatherings and I love all of them to death, including of course, their beautiful children, five of which are out of the country (but I still hope to see and bond with them one of these days) and one coming out very, very soon. Early next year, a nephew will get married and I will gain another niece (and singing and drinking buddy?) and potentially, another baby next year?
24. Childhood friends. My childhood, though strictly sheltered, was very happy, because I spent it with my co-adventurers – Chee, Belle and Oma. Chee and Belle are my nieces but they were closer in age to me than my own siblings. They are now in the US and Paris, respectively, but we will always have that shared childhood, which I will cherish forever. Oma was a neighborhood friend who was the only one allowed by my Mom to come into the house to play with Chee and Belle and me. Until now, she is in my life, and has provided tremendous help in founding, managing and marketing our pre-school, ZBDG’EE.
Another part of my childhood (teen years) is the Malaya choir and I am still in touch with most of the choir members. I grew up with them. One even became my first boyfriend and another one I eventually married.
25. Stellans. My Kinder, Elementary and High School years were spent in Stella Maris College, an all-girls catholic school run by nuns. There, I met girls who would become my very close friends until the present. These are the friends I embarked on a project with, to write and self-publish a book three years ago. We are also part of a batch that has kept in touch until now, supporting and helping each other out whenever required. Our teachers (one of which is my own sister, Ate Marie) are also part of this close group. A lot of successes and challenges were shared within this batch group and we have supported each other through it all.
26. College Friends. Cecile, Cheche and Carol. I am the only one whose name doesn’t start with “C”, but my real name ends with the sound though – Mercy. Our friendship has stood the test of time. We are each other’s kid’s godparents. We meet each other a couple of times a year, and in the case of Cecile, I know she is there for me, regardless of the distance. If I need to talk or if she needs me to listen, we are just a message/sms/call away.