A blog entry from my Multiply account published exactly one year ago. This year it’s their sixty-first wedding anniversary! We miss you Lolo Abner! 🙂
“What’s your birthday gift to me? You haven’t given it to me yet. Magtatampo ako sa ‘yo n’yan.” he whispers in her ear.
Ninay was unable to answer for around ten seconds. True enough, she was unable to buy him a gift. She perfectly knew what he wants to receive, but she was unable to save for it. But at the end of the ten-second delay, her heart spoke for her mouth:
“My lifetime. With you.” she smiled, with tears rolling down her brown eyes.
Abner couldn’t believe his ears. He replied to Ninay by squeezing her tight in his arms.
Things were not that easy. For one, both Ninay’s and Abner’s parents did not approve of their relationship. (The Cervanteses find Abner’s kayabangan very annoying, something which the Gatmaitans thought Ninay couldn’t stand for eternity.) Two, Ninay and Abner were still studying. Ninay was a Senior high school student, running for class valedictorian. Abner was a college Sophomore in the then Bulacan College of Arts and Trade.
Their love however was stronger than any obstacle that came in their way. On September 1, 1949 Ninay and Abner eloped. Both disobeyed their parents, and worst of all, both stopped studying.
It was around a couple of months when the Cervanteses finally accepted Ninay as Mrs. Abelardo Gatmaitan. It was also at that time when she got pregnant. Abner was the happiest man on Earth.
Abner doubled his efforts to support his growing family. (On March 14, 1952, their second daughter was born.) With sweat and blood, he was able to acquire large hectares of land in his barrio in Malolos. The money he earned from them, he spent to support the education of his children. He wanted them to do what he and Ninay failed to achieve.
I want them to finish college. I want them to be professionals. Ninay would hear him murmur in his sleep. Upon seeing the couple’s determination, God granted their wish. Abner and Ninay need not to worry about the time they’ll grow white hair. Their future was secure.
(Their marriage was not a fairy tale though. At one point, Ninay discovered that Abner had fathered a child years before they eloped. It was hard for her to accept, but she still opened the doors of their home to Abner’s illegitimate child.)
Post-World-War-2, Ramon Magsaysay’s Death, Martial Law, Ninoy’s Assassination, and People Power I… the stream of events in history flowed. Abner and Ninay’s love for each other strengthened through time. The party last September 1, 1999 was a witness to it.
“I am not satisfied with the golden anniversary Lolo Abner. Promise me, you’ll live ten more years to celebrate your diamond anniversary with Lola Ninay,” I told him during the party. (I was just ten years old then.)
“Apo, love is not just the amount of years you’ve spent in marriage. But if that bothers you, sure, I promise. I have long ears after all. Hahaha,” he replies to me. (There is an old saying in Bulacan that people with long ears live longer. I don’t believe that though, for lack of scientific basis.)
Abner may have kept all his promises to Ninay, but this promise he made to me, he did not. (Actually he also never kept his promise to witness my first college graduation.)
At 3:20 AM of January 4, 2009, Abner died of gastric carcinoma. He breathed his last in front of his dearest Ninay. He was holding her hand tight, but the clutches of Death were much stronger.
Ninay’s heart was bleeding madly that day.
They were just so eight months away from commemorating Abner’s happiest day in his life 60 years ago. However, his mortal body already gave up.
Life without Abner was never the same again for Ninay. Even though she still has things to do even at her early eighties, her grandchildren would often find her looking up in the heavens. It was as if she was anticipating an explosion from the stratosphere.
Or maybe she simply misses Abner very much.
Last September 1, 2009, Abner and Ninay would have celebrated their diamond wedding anniversary. Probably, they would marry each other again, and remember how 60 years ago, they disobeyed their parents and stopped studying for the sake of their love. However, this did not happen. The family party from ten years ago did not repeat.
Yet, when Ninay would silently scream “What’s your anniversary gift to me? You haven’t given it to me yet. Magtatampo ako sa ‘yo n’yan,” she is sure to hear a voice from Abner’s grave.
“My lifetime. With you and only you Ninay.”
Ninay does not believe in till death do us part. Even in death, her love for Abner will burn passionately – something time cannot measure.
Somewhere up there, Abner is smiling.