Mommy loved to climb the roof.
Yes, she would often hit the roof when she wasn’t happy about certain things, but you read that right – she loved to climb the roof. Literally. For some strange reason this was an activity she enjoyed doing in addition to minor carpentry, plumbing and pulling weeds in the garden. These were activities she didn’t think twice of doing, even when dad was still alive. Mommy always did the the dirty work around the house. She preferred doing the manly things, but she could not cook to save her life.
Growing up, I recall waking up in the morning to the sound of footsteps on the roof. It was mom. Going up the roof never daunted her. Garbed in a loose cotton shirt, running shorts, and running shoes with her hair up in her signature bun, she would climb our wall using a ladder, then hoist herself up on the roof all by herself like it was the most natural thing to do. She must have been in her mid forties when she started this odd activity. Mom pursued this all the way to her mid-sixties. Now that I am 57, I am amazed at her grit and agility to keep climbing our roof even as a senior citizen.
This courage though did not apply to airplanes which she stopped riding in 1968, and to elevators which would always freak her out. “Anong floor ba iyang pupuntahan natin,” was a question she would nervously ask on repeat every time we had to go into a building. Mom never liked cramped spaces or situations that were not in her control. She dreaded heights, but I suppose was comfortable on top of the roof because it was her domain.
While traveling in the province, we would never sleep under a mosquito net even if the place was infested. Later on in life, when I asked her why she never used a mosquito net she told me about a niece of hers who had died when they were very young children. “She was my playmate and I loved her dearly. One time when we were around five years old, it was time to sleep. I knew she was sick. The moment that the net was put over her was the moment she died. I’ve never been under a mosquito net ever since.”
Perhaps this is one of the reasons mom loved to climb the roof. Up there, with only endless blue skies far above her was when she could feel most free, and so far away and removed from the sadness of long ago.