Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Whatever truisms there are with which we console ourselves with the passing of a loved one, be it, s/he has passed on to the next level of existence, or that the dead have joined their Creator, one thing remains true: death is always a painful and sobering experience for the ones left behind.
For many of us in the office of the College of Liberal Arts, Rosalinda R. Ariola will always be “Mommy Rose.” With her neatly styled hair, made-up face and stern exterior, Mommy Rose will always come across as intimidating–she was after all, we jokingly tell her, our “little Dean”–but to those who knew her and were immensely fond of her, she was a cheerful and kind-hearted soul with an infectious and high-pitched laugh. Her twenty years in PLM with nary an unplanned absence or late-coming was as legendary as her hypochondria: one so much as make a bodily complaint out loud within her hearing and she’d have the same complaints, and getting herself checked, the next day. We were ruthless in the way we had made fun of her.
And so it came as a surprise that someone so disciplined in all aspects could leave without warning. Here was a woman who loved life, whose joy lay in dedicating and in giving of herself without begrudging anyone anything. A creature of habit, I have grown very much accustomed to her presence in the office that when she was hospitalized, I had wailed, rather insensitively, that the office will cease functioning. (I am sorry for that thoughtless remark, Janette, Kuya Lo.) Even in the last days prior to her death, she was still thinking of faculty loading; and, she told Ma`am Seb, to remind the Department Chairs to be mindful of the deadline issued by the SIS.
I will miss Mommy.
I will miss her basic decency. Even at the height of raging office politics and controversies, she would remain unruffled and unswayed by the backbiting and mudslinging that are resorted to by lesser humans. I have never heard her speak ill of anyone, though she had wanted to at times; on such occasions, she’d purse her thin lips looking displeased, but with a shrug of her shoulders, she’d dismiss the offender, and the offending remark from her tongue, and quietly get back to her work.
I will miss her puso ng saging sotanghon, and I think I can speak for everybody when I say we all will. She cooked for her family with the same devotion she’d cook for us in the office. That’s why everyone gravitated towards her table, where can be found the treats for the day.
I will miss most especially her warmth. There were more than a few occasions when I’d look longingly, if a bit jealously, at all the younger teachers she had taken under her protective wing, who’d walk up to her and buss her on the cheek every single day by way of greeting. “Hi, mommy!” would not suffice, nor would a simple good morning. Her warmth sustained them, as did theirs I’m sure, and it is them I grieve for now. The office will, in the years to come, be bereft of the warmth, joy and decency that Mommy Rose had stood for all these years.
She was such a great loss to all of us.