Monday, April 4, 2016
Down the street and on the other side of it lived two older sisters whom I knew only as Tan Ebi' and Tan Da.
Later I learned that Ebi' meant Nieves and Da was for Soledad. Tan Ebi' never married and so kept her maiden name San Nicolas. Tan Da was married and her married name was Mesa.
Like many of the older Chamorro women I knew when I was a child, the sisters were quiet and gentle. Tan Ebi' seemed to be the more sprightly one and Tan Da the more serene. Like many of us who didn't live far from the church, they would walk to Mass.
Those were the days when children were seen, not heard. I couldn't speak Chamorro anyway. Tan Da it seemed spoke more English than Tan Ebi'. Till the day she died, I never heard Tan Ebi' say a single word in English, though I am sure she spoke some.
It was when I was already a Capuchin brother than Tan Ebi' finally started speaking to me, and even more when I became a priest. It was all in Chamorro.
She would almost always tell me, "Hågo på'go si Påle' Román," "You are now Father Román," or words to that effect. Påle' Román was a pre-war Spanish friar with a longish white beard and a long nose and I suppose I reminded her of him.
Tan Ebi' was a member of the Franciscan Third Order and often wore her brown dress to Mass, as seen in the picture above.
There isn't really much else to say except that people like Tan Ebi' made me feel good about myself and the world I grew up in. Nice, simple people. Religious. They came to Mass and talked to God and all the saints. Nothing ostentatious. Gentle and sincere smiles.
I miss seeing people like Tan Ebi'.