Zosima Bayoy, or “Osing” is Feyma’s Mom. I call her Mama, or “Ma” most of the time. Ma is nearly 80 years old now, and her health is not good, but over the 17 years of my marriage to Feyma, I have known Ma during many years of good health. Mama speaks virtually no English at all. Of course she knows a few words, but that’s about it, she’s certainly not able to make a sentence in English. Over most of our marriage, I have known virtually no Bisaya (OK, ok…. I knew most of the bad words!). This means that Mama and I have, over the years, not been able to communicate verbally with each other much at all.
But, there are other ways to communicate without words. Somehow, over the years, Mama and I have actually been pretty close to each other. We have a way of using body language, hand gestures, and a common respect for each other that allows us each to know that we are valued by the other. Even if words have not been exchanged much of the time, we knew what each other felt and wanted to say.
I can remember back in the early 90’s when Feyma and I had been married only a few years. Whenever we would travel to GenSan to visit the family there, Mama and I would always have a nice time together. Back in those days, Mama really enjoyed raising animals. There was a vacant field across the street from the family house, and Mama used that field to raise her animals. One of my most vivid memories during this time is when Mama and I would go over to that field, almost daily, and she would show me her pigs. She had some big pigs for breeding, and a lot of piglets that she would raise, fatten and sell for food. She was so proud of those pigs, and it showed. When Mama and I would go over and check out those pigs and her other animals, we would go alone. No interpreter to get in the way, we were able to communicate non-verbally anyway! And, I think we both enjoyed having some time alone together.
It’s funny, because in my family, Feyma has always been a favorite. They love Feyma so much. I often tease that if Feyma and I were to be divorced, I would be out of my family, and they would take in Feyma instead. I think there is some truth in that little joke too! Funny thing is, though, that Feyma’s family is like that with me. If has ever been a dispute between Feyma and I (as all marriages have over the years), Feyma’s family is always on my side (of course, my family is on her side!).
I never got to know Feyma’s father that well, because he died only a few years after we were married, and I only got to see him during our wedding time, and on one other trip. Even during those two visits, though, he was already quite sick, and obviously getting near death. In my short time of knowing Papa, though, I knew he was a good man.
Nowadays, Ma is getting old and frail. Sometimes she is even unable to walk. She has suffered many strokes. I like to have her stay here at our place in Davao, because she can get good care here, and eat a healthy diet. When she stays with us, she is always in a little better health because of it. But, Mama likes to be on the farm, in Patag, Sarangani. She longs for the place, and we can’t keep her away from there. Last time that she came here and stayed for a few months, she suddenly told us that she needed to get back to the farm. There was just something about the way that she said it, and her determination to get back there…. I asked her “Ma, are you going to be with Papa?” She replied, “Yes, I will see Papa soon.” No further words were needed, we both understood what that conversation meant. That’s been a few months ago, though, and she is still hanging in there. While you never wish death on anybody, I do feel that Mama is at the point where she is ready for that, and when it happens, I do wish her well. I hope it is just a new chapter in her life with Papa, and they will be happy for eternity.