All That We Leave Behind

In the end, it’s about memories and we hang onto photos and things that remind us of loved ones.

In a year of losses, our family experienced another loss – Ma moved back to Philippines at the end of July.

We knew for over a year this day was coming – it was delayed due to my sister’s illness and death – but it was still hard.

My family and I spent time in July helping Ma declutter her apartment and pack.

Ma and I are minimalists, so deciding what to donate or dump was easy.

It was still an effort getting Ma to focus, as she waited until the last minute to start.

At one point, I asked Ma to get off Facebook and focus. She replied, “I haven’t posted in days and don’t want my friends to think I’ve died.” 😂

We keep the memories

The hubby and I decided to keep a few things:

Photo albums

These albums predate my existence and contain priceless memories. I will guard and treasure them.


This Chinese artwork hung on our family’s living room and it reminds me of Pa and Ma.

Kitchen Supplies

Ma had cute kitchenware that made yummy dishes over the years. I now have my first clay pot and one to remember Ma by.

Loss is harder when you experience it as a child and as the parent of a child.

Ma left on a Wednesday evening and we dropped by on the Monday and Tuesday.

T likes to tease Ma. He often smacks her on the butt – and while Ma does think he’s a handful, she loves him.

Near the end of our visit on the Tuesday, the reality sunk in and T started crying.

The poor kid has experienced so much loss lately and my heart ached for him.

On Wednesday night, after work, we dropped Ma off at the airport and said our goodbyes.

A few days later, the hubby and I emptied her apartment. I had a 39 fever – this was when my pneumonia likely started – but we still had to do the heavy lifting.

It’s funny how life flies by – one minute they’re there and the next, they’re not.

Food brings comforting memories

It’s been three weeks since Ma left and we try to video chat frequently.

We now have an incentive to visit Philippines and hope to do so next year. It’ll be T’s first visit and the hubby and my first since 2010.

I’m not sure how we’ll survive the 16-hour flight with T but life always figures itself out.

This evening, I made chicken claypot rice using Ma’s claypot and this Wok of Life recipe.

I’ve always wanted to make this comforting dish – and it was indeed comforting, in more ways than one.

Main ingredients are jasmine rice, chicken thigh, dried shitake mushroom, dried black fungus, dried lily flower and an assortment of spices and seasonings. Garnished with green onion and dried shallot.

Photo at top: Swimming at scenic Elora Quarry at the beginning of summer in June.

24 thoughts on “All That We Leave Behind

  1. My heart breaks for you all Ab. I’m glad you were able to grab some items for your memories. How many years has your mom been here? On a good note, she’s healthy enough to travel! Sending hugs.

    1. Thanks Diane. Change is part of life and while it’s hard, it’s the best for everyone. We’ve been in Canada since 89 so quite a while! 😊

  2. Sorry to hear that your mom moved back home to the Philippines. It must have been tough to say goodbye. But it’s nice that you kept some of her things to remind you of her. And as you said, it’s a good excuse to take a trip to the Philippines and visit her!! Oh gosh, a 16 hour flight sounds painful, even without a kid!

    1. Thanks Linda. Yes, the flight sounds absolutely dreadful. I hated it when it was just the hubby and I and I can’t even imagine what it’ll be like with T. He’ll be a terror for sure. 😆

      Enjoy your week ahead and hope your trip works out as planned!

  3. Oh, you had me by the throat with the title and then this sentence really hit me, “Loss is harder when you experience it as a child and as the parent of a child.”

    Right – you are feeling it both ways. Oh, I’m so sorry. And it’s hard to find space to do your own grieving when you are trying to attend to someone else’s. Maybe your downtime with pneumonia, as ill-timed and awful as it was, helped give you some time alone to feel your sadness too.

    I love that you are planning to visit. I have no idea how my parents survived that flight with 3 kids – and for the first trip there we were 6 mos, 4 yrs, and 6 yrs. I can’t say it was pretty but it is survivable, just as you noted!!

    Sending lots of love, Ab!!

    1. Thanks Wynne. I know you’d understand as you view life from many perspectives. Emotions are complex, especially as a caregiver of young kids going through their own emotions.

      Kudos to your parents for surviving the flight. They show that life always find a way. It always does. 😊

      Enjoy your week ahead!

  4. You chose to keep the right mementos. You are so wise to recognise this as a loss; something I always selfishly viewed as new opportunities, was an actual loss. However, it is easier these days with video chats and somewhat affordable flights.

    1. Thanks Margie. Memories are all that we have and hang onto in the end. Thank goodness indeed for technology and yes, “cheap” flights. 😆

  5. Oh Ab, I can so understand how painful it is to say goodbye to someone. I’m sure it was so very hard and that photo of T with Ma will be one I hope you all treasure and can reach a time when the hurtful part is manageable. Video chats have made all the difference for me with both daughters now in Colorado. I try to be grateful that we have that ability but I can assume I know some of what Ma feels right now as well. Video just isn’t like being in the same space as someone you love. Hugs to all of you.

    1. Thanks Deb. I know this post definitely strikes a chord with you – we are viewing the same scenario from the opposite perspective. 🙏 I agree that modern tech has made it easier to reduce the distance but as you said it’s also not the same. One step and day forward at a time.

  6. T looks really sad at the airport when he’s holding her hand. 🥺 But separation has been and will always be a part of life. It’s funny how she insisted on updating her Facebook before she started packing. I’m glad you decided to keep the photo albums (they’re priceless!) and the claypot. That dish you made with it looks absolutely delicious! I hope you’ll make it to the Philippines next year — and by then, T will be able to handle long-haul flights better. 😊

    1. Thanks Bama. Yes, our parents do become quite eccentric as they get older don’t they? 😆

      I hang onto the things that money can’t replace – and family photos definitely too the list.

      Here’s hoping for good drugs to tranquilize T for 16 hours. 😆

      1. Sometimes when I feel like I’m being eccentric I like to take a pause and think, is this because I’m getting old? 😆

      2. Most definitely! I can’t wait till I reach the don’t give a crap decade. Not quite there yet!

    1. Thank you! Memories for sure are to be treasured and thank goodness for modern tech that make it easier to keep in touch. 🙏

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