My nephew Robert Francis who turned fifteen today!
Francis had been our first baby in the family after a very long hiatus…hehehe…actually he’s the first of the third generation who grew up in our neighborhood.
We were all so excited when he was born and my cousins and I fought our way through just to have him smile at us and carry him in our arms. I was a third year student then. I remember coming home very excited during school breaks to see him and being sad and shedding light tears every time i bid him goodbye when I go back.
Since his mom continued law school after Francis was born, I was his official nanny during those school breaks and after I graduated from college. I played with him, lulled him to sleep, bathe him, took him to nursery school, prepared his school snacks and even brought him to the accounting class I taught in Urios, way way back then.
Year after year, the gifts I buy for his birthdays constantly changed — from his Woody and Buzz, Lion King, to his toy guns, dinos, zoids, Philippine Horror Stories Books, Joke Books, Magic Tricks book, to CDS, until I could no longer keep track with his interests that I only give him birthday cards with money. Today, I gave him a Marithe Francois Girbaud wallet and a polo shirt. The wallet is for him to keep his daily income from working at their family store this summer from 7:00 am to 7pm daily.
I miss the days when he was still small and I played with him. Taught him to sing. Taught him to read. Taught him action songs. Caught spiders with him (which he took to school and which the teacher caught and confiscated). Tutored him during his periodical exams. When he was in his fifth grade, he stopped asking me to tutor him during his exams.
I should have savored those days when he had so many questions to ask me that I just brushed him with my answers and wished he would stop already. Lately, we haven’t had long talks or even a hearty conversation. It’s just a "hi, tita" and "bye, tita".
Now, he’s grown so big already. He’s now at that age when he’s always frowning when he is with his family but laughing ever so loudly all the time, when he’s with his friends. My sister calls him "the angry teenager" but don’t misunderstand. He may be "the angry teenager", but he’s still polite and never miss to greet us and bless our hands the moment he sees us. An angry teenager who says the rosary in the morning before going to school, and who takes care of his younger siblings when his parents are away. Just lately, when his entire family went to Davao City for a short trip, he stayed behind to mind the stores. I’m also pleased that he knows how to put God first before anything—like when he went to hear Sunday mass at 5:30 in the morning because he needs to open the stores by 7:00 AM.
I cannot believe that barely two years from now, he will be off to college and beyond our sight and reach. Just thinking of him all alone in Manila is already worrying me.
Perhaps he might want to just study in our local university? That’s being greedy.
This afternoon, I was looking for some documents in our cabinet at home and coincidentally, I saw an old picture of us together, back when I was still taking care of him. This picture certainly brought a smile to my face and refreshed memories of long ago.
Happy Birthday Kuya Francis! Be good always. We love you!