5 women in the house

HUMMING IN MY UNIVERSE By Jim Paredes (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 3, 2017 – 12:00am

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The women in my life: (Clockwise, from left) Ala, Ananda, Zadie, Lydia and Erica. Photo by Jim Paredes

The past week has been quite different.

My two daughters visited us here in Manila. Erica came from Paris and Ala, her husband John and their baby Zadie came from Sydney.

They decided to meet and have a short vacation in Manila. Erica took a break from work to be with Ala whom she had not seen in almost two years. During that time, many things have happened to both of them. They had been meaning to catch up since Ala gave birth to Zadie, who has become an internet sensation in our family. Her pictures have been charming everyone and so Ninang Erica HAD to come and see her in person.

Before my daughters arrived, our house had been quiet for some months. We’ve only had a few visitors who stayed a few days. Basically, just Lydia, my apo Ananda and I have been staying here. Our three kids had been living abroad for some years now. And so the past two weeks have been quite a special time for all of us since two of them came home.

Erica has been living in Paris for more than a year now. She went there to study at Cordon Bleu and become a chef. She was among the top in her class when she finished. Right now, she is working at a French restaurant.

Ala has been residing in Sydney for almost 10 years. She studied art and actually has exhibited and sold quite a few of her paintings and art installations. She also teaches English to non-Aussies. She married John Buencamino more than a year ago and gave birth to Zadie nine months ago.

It is such a delight and joy to have them in the house. When Erica is here, she likes to prepare special meals for us and her friends. She serves very elegant, sumptuous dishes and serves them plated. The food is very delicious and the presentation is fabulous. She uses unconventional combinations of ingredients that can delight you to experience palate heaven! She is quite creative and works hard to make her meals special. She has so much confidence working in the kitchen. Cooking is her passion and you can talk to her about food endlessly. She cooks with focus, joy and dedication.

Ala is always great to have around. Her conversation is always interesting. She is quite an artist and I love that. Her observations and her take on things are always fascinating and insightful. She is a cheerful, pleasant person to be with. She lights up a room when she enters.

We are all amazed at how she has taken to motherhood. She is an excellent mother to Zadie. She is nurturing, patient and attends to her baby’s every need. She spares no opportunity to learn how to care for and raise Zadie in the best way. She has compassion and focus.

Lydia and I watch Ala and John parent their baby and we can only smile. It doesn’t seem so long ago when we were young parents ourselves.

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Author Jim Paredes and apo Zadie

Right now, there are five women in our house. Since my son Mio is not here, John and I are the only males. Yes, we are outnumbered! Lydia, Erica, Ala, Ananda and Zadie run the house and have taken over the car and driver. Their schedules are prioritized. Their friends come over often and stay and chat. Some of them even sleep over. John and I spend time in the gym or in conversation. He is easy and quite relaxed and great to have around. Most importantly, he loves my daughter Ala and does his fatherly chores with enthusiasm.

As a doting Papa and Lolo, I take photos and basically enjoy their company. I watch my two daughters — all grown up now — and listen to them talk about their lives, loves, passions and their future plans. They are living the lives they wanted. They have made important choices. They are full adults. I am so happy to see how they have become who they are and am looking forward to what they will be.

It is also great to see my granddaughter Ananda reunite with her mom Erica even if briefly for now. They have clearly missed each other and are trying to catch up. Ananda can seem so grown up one moment and a kid again the next. Sometimes, it seems like mom and daughter are the same age when they are laughing and just enjoying themselves.

I enjoy my special moments with Zadie. When she had just arrived, she liked to look at me and smile but did not want me carrying her. An opportunity came when her mom passed her on to me as she prepared Zadie’s bath. She struggled for a moment until I sang to her while in my arms. She relaxed and stared at me in rapt attention and seemed to enjoy it. Maybe the vibration from my chest was doing the trick. During the following days, she has offered no resistance when I carry her. All in all, I must have sung at least 30 songs to her. It is our bonding activity.

Lydia as lola is wonderful. At her age now, she looks like her beautiful mom and even sounds like her as she coos and makes sounds to amuse her apo. She can really get Zadie to smile, laugh, calm down when she is crying, and easily make the baby sleep.

If this article paints a picture of this writer as an old retired grandpa, let me say that I feel far from being old. In fact I feel I have a lot to look forward to. I feel happy, fulfilled and have much to be thankful for. I have quite a family. I want to stick around see more of their lives unfold.

Hopefully, there are a few more grandchildren to come. I would like to do more singing for my very select audience.