I selected fabric designs that veered away from the old-fashioned floral prints and motifs which are usually chosen and worn by women of her generation. I picked materials of the most vibrant colors. I stayed away from the dull browns, plain navy blues, or other drab shades and boring prints.
I chose colors and designs that would make her come alive. Look youthful. Cheerful. Prettiest of pinks. Lemony yellows and citrusy oranges. Lime greens and aquamarine blues. Jewel tones and oh, just the brightest of colors!
And she surely stood out from traditional women of her age grouping, the “manangs,” who go by conventional clothes with colors that seem to speak of nothing but doom and gloom. Like they’re on an ongoing mourning! 🙂
That was one of the ways that I showed my love for Tita Lola — having her dresses made, most especially during her birthday and Christmas holidays.
I also loved fixing up Tita Lola — putting on her makeup and styling her hair. After I finished studying how to cut hair and put on makeup, I’d excitedly practice on her. I so looked forward to the times when I’d get to style her — clothes, hair, makeup, the works! Oh I so loved dressing her up! 🙂
However, if our play time was when she’d do her accounting after coming home from the market, and my siblings and I would bug her, which I wrote about in an earlier post, the time for her to get dressed up and dolled up was time for us to have our fight! The same petty quarrels over and over again. 🙂 Just as children often do. 🙂
Tita Lola would much rather keep all her new clothes in her closet. Locked in her aparador. She wouldn’t wear them unless “forced” to do so. Not that she didn’t like any of them. She simply wanted to preserve them. For what or for when or even for whom? I don’t know. It’s her upbringing and it’s one of her quirks.
And getting into our customary squabble for her to wear her newest dresses was one of my sources of joy and entertainment — in an unusual and a sort of weird way.
I’d become child-like and childish, much like Tita Lola. I’d “scold” her. It was the most effective way, or perhaps the only way then that I knew how to get through to her. To get Tita Lola to wear her latest set of clothes. Her dressing up routine wouldn’t be complete without our usual bickering.
Sometimes our conversations and arguments would get so unbelievably, hilariously, ridiculously twisted, that I’d wonder, given her mental state of health, was Tita Lola really only being herself, and can she truly not get me? Or was she only pretending to not get me, just to irk me or test my patience? 🙂 To get back at me because I’d been disrespectful towards her? 🙂 You know, just like how children get even with each other?
Yet, even if I’d almost always lose my patience with her, it was something that I enjoyed doing. And I know it was something that Tita Lola likewise enjoyed being done to her. No, not the losing my patience with her part, but getting her prettied up! 🙂 With the attention that she was getting, it made her feel that she mattered.
Admittedly, as I look back now, how I showed my love for her may appear to have been quite shallow. Superficial. Purely material.
But it was what I knew. It was all I knew.
Yet I also know that Tita Lola, being of such simple mind, possessing only the purity of heart, and thinking with nothing but the innocence of a child, truly enjoyed and appreciated, at some level, being dressed up, dolled up, doted on.
Just like any little girl.
It made her feel special, loved and cared for. One of the rarest times when I showed her some respect. Perhaps, my way of making up for all the times when I didn’t.
Thankfully, I now know so much more and know so much better — living more consciously, with increased awareness, seeing the bigger picture, finding the deeper meaning, and making sense of it all. Be it my aunt’s condition and my relationship with her, or life in general.
And as I remembered Tita Lola on her birthday on the 3rd of this month, I found myself wondering, for the first time —
Why did her soul choose such a mental health challenge during this incarnation? What did her soul intend to accomplish? What were the growth opportunities for her, for me and our family, and everyone else who interacted with her?
To be continued
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