I have been living on Gingham Lane for three (3) years now and writing about it for one (1) year. It was a long road to this Home. Rather than a History of this Home, I have a Herstory. I was inspired to write this from a conversation I had with my neighbor. Her journey to Gingham Lane was herstories as she brought daughters with her. I write about my Herstory of this Home today and if it strikes a chord then I will write the other Herstories I chance upon.
I first visited this Place when it had model homes. At that time, I was caring for my mother with Alzheimer’s. Being the assigned primary caregiver of a widowed parent was the natural consequence for remaining the youngest daughter and unmarried at that. This role was both a blessing and a challenge. It was a blessing to have loved her as she had loved me as a child. It was a physical and financial challenge some days. I had just sold the condominium I originally planned to live in because I foresaw her illness would require my household to be liquid. In the Philippines, medical care for the elderly is kinder when one has cash. I had decided to just find a dwelling that one day I would call our home when the caregiver role is done. My son had accompanied me and said he would like the biggest unit in the Place. I checked the costs and sadly told him even the smallest unit was not in our budget and maybe not in our future until the care for my mother was done.
Then it just happened. A hot summer with frequent electric interruptions, the air conditioning failing and the electric fan was far too breezy spreading humidity in the afternoons and very cool air in the evenings. This led to Mama’s pneumonia soon after her 87th birthday. As is common in geriatric care, there are complications in varied organs. She fought with brave dignity for about thirty (30) days then breathed her last on the one day I went home to rest.
I emptied Mama’s home painfully. A grieving heart makes moving a gargantuan task. It took me one (1) week to furnish Mama’s home when we moved in and it took me forty (40) days to mourn, forty (40) days to purge, forty (40) days to rest then forty (40) days to move. My son and I had moved temporarily into my sister’s home as we contemplated our uncertain future.
Finding our own home was a tiresome task. My son and I went to condominiums and townhouses. Being only two (2), a house seemed too large for us now. Some flats were near the sky but when one looked out the window, one could not see the sky with all the other buildings surrounding it. Some townhouses revealed the thickness of smog. Some units had great location near the commercial center, but it was filled with busyness as much as business. Some apartments had too much stone. Other dwellings had too much steel and glass. Some places were so far, the silence seemed ghostly. After a month of looking, we had found a place within our budget and near my son’s new school. It was beautiful but it seemed no one lived there.
Then my nephew invited me to his home for a barbecue and he explained that he moved to this Place because the community welcomed Daisy, his pretty bitch. So the Jack Russel Terrier introduced us to these grounds: The other units being built, the small gardens where she played, the pool she could not swim in, the small shaded courtyards where she lingered on a hot day, and in between so much green.
On that day, I felt serenity take a foothold in my heart. I felt maybe here I could build a sanctuary for my son. It was quiet enough to hear the birds in the morning. It was spacious enough for children and dogs to run. But most of all, this Place had an unhampered view of the Sky. The Place had no large building within one (1) kilometer on all sides. It seemed a great, big area to dream. In this area where it seemed forty (40) percent green, maybe my family could thrive again.
I had difficulty qualifying for a loan for our unit in Gingham Lane. It seemed we would be living in Eastwood, where there was more steel and cement, and absolutely no wood. By some small miracle, the bank president remembered I was his daughter’s catechist and gave me the credit required. So here we came to live, enabled by hope and prayer, and slightly worn from grief and mourning.
We moved on the day of the full moon to bring us luck and had the home blessed according to Catholic rites. It was enlightening to find that the Lord only deemed necessary the following items for a home: a spot for the Crucifix, a place to lay the Bible, a prayer to welcome Jesus in one’s home and loving family members. The rest of the items we moved were all extra in the Creator’s eyes but it took two (2) weeks to set up after the painters left.
As we transformed this space, I discovered the space transformed us as well. Living in a space one/fourth of the area we shared with my mother naturally meant that we could not bring some of Mama’s things in our new home. Some things naturally found its space. We also could not arrange it in a grand manner. So everything was eventually set up in a functional manner, with dual purpose whenever possible. I had to shed some fine things for simpler ones. I had to give away and share special things and it reminded me how blessed I was to have had them and to have the choice to share it.
And that’s my story of this Home on Gingham Lane. A series of little events woven in a Herstory.