At ground level

A column about LIFE

Where “home” was always meant to be …

As we stepped outside the airport in the wee hours of the morning, a blast of hot air hit us. Then came the noise from the traffic and a swarm of people. I smiled, for I knew I was home. After a short drive, we arrived at my mother’s house. There was Mom, who is 84, looking so well and happy to have us back.

It was raining; in fact, there was a typhoon, which thankfully, had not crossed our airplane’s path. I loved the smell of the rain. Then came the sweet aroma of garlic rice, eggs and spam, a traditional Filipino breakfast – yet another sign that I was home. Except for a few out of town trips and gatherings with friends, I stayed close to home this trip. It was just nice to be in the house.

The house we now call “home” is the perfect place for Mom. It’s almost identical to, but a smaller version of the home where my siblings and I spent much of our childhood years. This one-story house where Mom now lives is located in an exclusive village in Makati, the business and shopping center of the country. It is the very first house Mom and Dad built a few years after they were married, though they never lived here. Instead, they had the same architect design and build a larger two-story version of this Eichler home, 900 sq. meters, in Loyola Heights, close to the schools they wanted us to attend.

For nearly three decades they rented the Makati house to the U.S. embassy, until one day, the embassy informed my dad that it would no longer be renting the house. At the time my father was stretched for money and decided to sell the Makati house. Each time, for some reason, the sale would fall through. Eventually, the real estate agent told my dad, “Mr. Meily, I’m not a religious man, but it’s really uncanny that something always happens whenever we try to sell this beautiful house. I think God has another plan for this house.”

Not long after, the plan unraveled … Dad finally gave up the idea of selling the house and, instead, had it rented. A year later, Dad died and we decided it was best for Mom to move to the house in Makati. It is less than half the size of our house in Loyola, but it would be more manageable, and a safer place for her to be.

Mom and I sat in the terrace and reminisced. Although Dad had to wade through an hour or more of traffic to get to his office in Manila and then spend the same amount of time to get home, he refused to move to the smaller house in Makati. He loved the sprawling front lawn and backyard of our Loyola home, Mom recalled.

“Where would I put my things, hija (daughter)?!” I remembered Dad groaning whenever I broached the subject of moving. How he worried about his papers and collection of magazines – Look, Life, Time, Newsweek, and yes, even Reader’s Digest!

For a while there Mom and I lamented about the house in Loyola. The buyer had torn it down and it is now the tallest condominium on that street. Perhaps it was for the best … We (and so many of our friends) have many happy memories of our time in Loyola Heights, but I think I would feel sadder if I passed by the house today and wondered who was sleeping in that large room, once occupied by four little girls. How about the boys’ room? I would wonder who was now browsing through the books lined in the gigantic bookcase in the study, and who was playing with the old turtle that had made our backyard pond its home.

“That house served us well. It was a good home,” said Mom. “Before we left I cleaned that house from top to bottom and left it spotless, even though I knew they were going to tear it down. Then I bade it good-bye and thanked it for being such a wonderful home for our family.”

I observed Mom walk across the living room, pass the dining room and kitchen, and head toward the hallway, which is just a few steps from her bedroom. I concluded, without a doubt in my mind, that all this was meant to be – the look, the feel of this house is almost identical to our house in Loyola. Best of all, it’s always felt like “home.”

They say there’s a reason for everything … It’s nice to know this house that Dad and Mom first built had a purpose from the beginning. It never sold because it was always meant to be “home.” I only hope old Mr. Turtle was able to walk away before the bulldozers leveled the house in Loyola …

A family gathering at the Makati home a few years after Mom moved there. It's so much like our home in Loyola. It is here where we now make happy memories.

A young Mom and Dad, newly married.

We have many happy memories of our house in Loyola Heights.

September 2, 2011 - Posted by | Family, Life, Philippines | , , ,

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