Sunday, January 29, 2006


Published January 2006

Mabuhay, (ma-boo-hi) is a Philippine greeting which means to live well and thrive. J.D. and I have been good friends with a couple, Francis and Agnes for a long time. They were born and raised in the Philippines and they are two of the most lovable people in the world. Our kids are good friends and we love their five children as if they were our own. Every time J.D. walks into their home, he shouts "Mabuhay"! and they return the greeting. If ever there was a more perfect word for the days we live in, I think everyone should say "mabuhay" and mean it. The word simply is representative of the friendship we have forged with this family. Friendship formed in the joys and sorrows of life are the lasting ones. A treasure of immeasurable value.

Agnes was the one who initiated our friendship seven years ago. Her smile is infectious and she exudes joy to all who know her. She puts up with me playing with her hair which is long and feels like silk. I think of her like my sister. Francis seems like her twin brother instead of her spouse. They have a wonderful marriage and it shows in the demeanor and joy you see in their children. We love being with their family, sharing holidays and special occasions. Our daughters made their First Holy Communion together and we've shared sponsoring each others children for Confirmation. Some of our best memories have been the family times spent with them, praying together and laughing. I wish I could express what it has meant to us to have them for our dear old friends. I can't imagine what life would be like without them sharing the road with us.

When Shannon was in the hospital last year, their daughter Catherine spent long days at the hospital with me keeping Shannon company, and cheering her up. They homeschool their five children and hold down careers at the same time. I marvel at their ability to balance their work and home. Their kids range in age from 17 down to 7 and each of their children are wonderful in their own special way. Justin will go to college in the Fall and has been editor of our parish youth group newspaper and a real leader for the youth at St. Stephens. He's smart, mature and has many friends. John Paul is energetic, friendly and has been an altar boy mentor to our son Conor. Catherine is Shannon's best friend and confidant in all things teenage girl, and Jane Frances and Cecilia are Birdy's buddies. Every time I see these kids there is never a shortage of hugs and affection. They all have learned how to live well and thrive.

J.D. and Francis go to the Asian Seafood Market and shop for the things they love. The crab is not fresh unless they bring it home kicking and JD is learning new ways to prepare his seafare. Their home is always hospitable, something is always cooking and it's all delicious. When I am in their West Sacramento home, it feels like my own home. There is always a hot steaming cup of coffee or aromatic cup of tea, and if it's time to wind down with a good glass of wine, the corks a poppin'. We Irish, Italians love our friends from the Philippines and we've proudly become Filipino by contamination surely because of them. If lumpia was a food group, J.D. would be in hog heaven on the food pyramid.

What impresses me most is their devotion to their family, friends and faith. Our son Conor asked Francis to sponsor him for his Confirmation this Spring, and his reason is because "Mr. D will pray for me Mom". Yes he will and then some. Francis is tireless in everything he does. A hard worker, an exceptional cook and devoted friend. We talked a lot last weekend about the things he likes to cook and his secret is in the salt and vegetables he uses. He seems to know how to perfectly season every thing he makes. His specialty is a cold seafood and bell pepper salad, a top secret recipe no doubt because when I ask him how he does it, he responds "well it's a little of this and a little of that and voila...." No one could do what he does with this salad. It's all in the heart of the cook. I'm sure it's because Francis' was born with ten pounds of Mabuhay in him. I wish I had four ounces of it.

Agnes and I belong to this group of ladies from church who get together and celebrate each others birthdays. We started going to tea houses and it's become a little tradition. Put about four teapots and some scones in front of us and we seem to close down every tea house we enter. Agnes loves it when we all get together and I have to admit, since I've been away from home these last three months, I miss her companionship and company. There is something about the love of a dear friend that is more precious than gold. Agnes is one of those friends.

Agnes' birthday is this Sunday. Both she and my dad share the same birthday. Dad is coming home from the hospital the day before his birthday and we're planning a little welcome home birthday celebration for him. The only word that seems appropriate to say to him is the Tagalog word Agnes and Francis taught us "Mabuhay! Live well and thrive Dad" You've been through hell but you made it...and I know you will get better each day. As for my dear friend Agnes. I hope we grow old together. "Happy birthday. We love you. Thank you for your friendship and "Mabuhay!" Live well and thrive my friend.

Tammy Maher is a resident of El Dorado Hills and a bi-weekly columnist for the Mountain Democrat. You can reach her by email at

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