A STRONG WOMAN. Ludivina Lambatan is the mother of Kenneth Lambatan, a cardiac research nurse who died from COVID-19 at St George's Hospital, London. Supplied Photo.
Note: This Mother’s Day special was written by Ezel R. Lambatan, brother of Kenneth Lambatan, a Kagay-anon nurse who recently died from the novel coronavirus at St. George’s Hospital in London. This heart-warming essay is dedicated to their Mama Ludy and to all the mothers whose love and light continue to make this world a brighter place. (With additional interview by Justin Nagac and editing by Stephen Pedroza)
On the night of April 27, Mama Ludy faced the screen of a mobile phone. She looked at her son Ken through a video call, intubated and dependent on the life support equipment. My mother opened her Bible then read verses to him. Into the next minute, she was on a church hymnal, singing the songs “Amazing Grace” and “The Old Rugged Cross.” When the time came for his life support to be turned off, Mama Ludy said the hardest “I love you” and “Thank you” any mother could give.
It was the worst goodbye a mother could ever give to her son.
Mother of a modern hero
Meet Ludivina Lambatan, also known as “Ludy” by her colleagues and peers. A woman of faith and dedication. One of her sons, Kenneth Lambatan, 33, was a cardiac research nurse in London. She lost one of her great gems due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
As a mother, she always wanted the best for her children. When Kuya Ken graduated from high school, Mama Ludy suggested Kuya Ken to take nursing. My Kuya Ken obeyed Mama’s suggestion. When Kuya Ken was getting into the field of nursing healthcare, Mama Ludy made sure that she provided and supported all the things that Kuya Ken needed. She made sure that she was with Kuya Ken every step of the way.
After graduating, Kuya Ken served at the Northern Mindanao Medical center (NMMC) for eight good years. She saw how dedicated and passionate he was with his calling. It was evident in his work ethics and through the words of his friends and colleagues. Being a hands-on mom that she is, every after Kuya’s work shift, she would always check up on him by asking how his day went. Though my brother was a silent type at home, Mama Ludy has always felt when Kuya was doing well or when he was sick.
My brother was a go-getter and he always wanted to pursue greener pastures abroad, so my mother was just behind him supporting his dreams. When he moved to London, the communication lines became more meaningful. My mother was beaming with pride as my brother shared how he would go to work through his bike, how he loved the London weather, and all other stories under the sun. Three years as a nurse in London, Mama Ludy saw how Kuya Ken made a name for himself as he became a research nurse in the cardiology ward of St. George's Hospital.
A 'TRUE GEM'. Xavier Ateneo nursing alumni Kenneth Lambatan was a celebrated cardiac research nurse at St George's Hospital. Photo by Therese Hona.
The hardest day of her life
She recounted the time when Kuya Ken told her that he had to be deployed in front lines of curbing the spread of COVID-19. He was assigned as the bed manager of the hospital. Mama Ludy was apprehensive on this move as she wanted Kuya to go back to the Philippines. As a research nurse, Kuya Ken had all the reasons not to be in during the hospital’s most critical time but it did not deter him. He heeded the call of service.
“It is my sworn duty, Ma,” Kuya Ken said. “I will respond under any circumstance.”
When he was already in the front lines, my brother told her during one of their online conversations that he had a hard cough and a sore throat. Mama got anxious and was badly asking for Kuya Ken to seek medical attention right away. Kuya Ken said that Mama need not to worry and asked her to pray for him. The next thing she knew was that his son was already in the intensive care unit and was in critical condition.
My mother prayed harder for days and nights but Kuya Ken’s condition didn’t get any better. Until one day, the doctors consulted Mama Ludy that they needed to stop all the machines that supported my brother’s life. My mom asked God for a miracle. She even called all her churchmates, colleagues, and peers to rally for prayers over her son. Then the hardest day of her life came.
“My son Ken died so that others may live,” Mama Ludy said.
On Mother’s Day
“It’s going to be my most painful Mother’s Day,” she said, as she relived the pain she felt when Kuya Ken’s life support was turned off.
Calling it unbearable was an understatement. Not being able to take care of him and not being by his side during his last days have haunted her with deepest regret. The thoughts of what if she could have gone first before Ken, she would do so. He was only half her age and she was certain that he still had dreams that he wanted to achieve for himself and for our family.
If there was one thing that comforted her, it was knowing how my brother had a strong relationship with God. She is coping with the situation by consoling to the word of God. Through faith, she was quite relieved knowing that Kuya Ken is now in a much better place. No more weeping, no more sorrows.
“Life is short … life is not ours … and life is from God,” she said.
In this trying time, she calls for a message to focus on God. Mama Ludy believes that God has his own ways and she wants all the mothers and their children to put all their trust to the Almighty One. She will always remember Kuya Ken as a kind, loving, and generous son. He was a good provider to our family, especially to his siblings.
In another life, Kuya Ken’s face will be the first one she will look for in heaven.
We often describe our mothers as the beaming light of the household, but recently my mother’s light was tested by fate. I know she can move on with her life, collecting more days, but none of them will outweigh the one she wished she had back. Behind all Kuya Ken’s stories is Mama Ludy’s story. Hers is where ours begin.
Today, on this special occasion, I am writing this for the two angels with one heart. For a fallen hero and for the strongest woman I know.