by Totie Mesia
The bare trees lining the road have their buds ready. They’re about to display new leaves and flowers as the soft wind blows and the weather turns mild. The daffodils, dandelions, cherry blossoms, peonies, and tulips have returned aplenty to mark the season’s harvest of joy. It’s springtime!
On our way to Long Island on April 5, 2008, I was twinkle-eyed thinking I would see Bingbing and Annelee Badiola again. I felt our dinner in Flushing, Queens wasn’t enough and I lamented not having much time. We had to part with a plan of meeting again.
At #4 Monette Street, Plainview, Long Island, off exit 44S, the plan turned real. Bingbing Bretan welcomed us to their beautiful home, a comfy enclave where Brandon, their little boy, had trees dancing in the breeze, a wide lawn to run around, and a sky to watch as birds flew by.
Suffused with warmth and hospitality, the place had the pleasant smell of home-cooking. Bingbing prepared delectable sotanghon which was damn good for the palate. David had his hands busy on the red-hot barbecue grill for those juicy steaks. Dixie came up with a rendition of crispy fried chicken, far better than KFC.
Alfred and Suzanne Bretan regaled us with amazing stories and so did Rommel, Alec, Jojo, Andre, Abel and other family members whose names escaped my recall. The company was good. The troop proved to be very impressive hosts.
Narratives floated like awesome comet dusts in the air. Franz Badiola, the mom of the troop, was visibly glad about anything which crossed our minds. We weren’t finicky about leaving for Monet Septimo was there!
The ebullient Monet drove all the way from Toronto, Canada with Abel, her husband and two adorable children, Bruce and Bea. It was timely that she and my sister, her godmother, found each other after 43 years.
“Ay ninang!” she screamed and they hugged with unabashed affection!
The youngest among the pretty Septimos, Monet had the sparkling eyes of her mom and the bubbly laughter of Josephine, her eldest sister. I missed her parents Ramon and Sally Septimo who were our friends and next-door neighbors many years before.
I asked for pharmacist-sister Susan (Tootsie) Septimo who’s many miles away in beautiful sun-drenched Fort Lauderdale, Florida where the winter birds escaped the December freeze.
“Will you and Tootsie sign-up for the UP Ibalon alumni website? Everybody is looking for you,” I said.
“Yes, we will.” Monet gladly promised.
“We used to run around in that old wooden bridge in Naga… and we played school like it was the real thing. If not for your sister Marjorie, arithmetic would have been a pain!”
“How’s Butchoy? Pidong, Coco, Bong, Pipay…What’s up with our neighbors-friends?
Time flew fast to ever know the last apt words about the wonderful memories we shared. The moments were so precious to waste for the evening passed so swiftly. Friendships were reignited like newly refurbished gas burners which banished the cold. Bonds were glued strong; the memories we couldn’t paste in our hands, we kept in our hearts! ==0==