I recently came across another real life example supporting my mother’s interpretation of the old Salawikain (proverb) “Pagkahaba-haba man ng prosisyon sa simbahan din ang tuloy,” which she took to mean, in English, as “No matter how many mistresses a man should have, at the near end of his life, he will return to his first wife.”
Ruben was a young man when he met and married Erika, a beautiful heir to her family’s business. He had a stable job in the military and he looked handsome in uniform. She didn’t need much since her family was glad to keep her on allowance. They were crazy about each other but marriage is tricky whether it be ‘for richer or poorer’.
Erika had the temperament of a spoiled brat. When she got the idea to raise pigs, her family supported the business venture with a small capital. When she and Ruben had a fight she had the pigs killed where they stood. That ended the animal husbandry venture but not the marriage.
Her family built them a home, not a mansion but still a small fortune at that time. Then she and Ruben had a big fight. She had the house demolished to impress upon him that she has a right to do whatever she wanted to her property. They had to move into a rental. The marriage didn’t end there though.
Some years, a couple of children and more fights later, Ruben and Erika finally separated. As customary in the Philippines, a country without a divorce law, Ruben met someone new and moved on to have a common law 2nd marriage. The bratty Erika, surprisingly, never remarried.
The second wife spent her life bashing Erika at every opportunity, while none in Ruben’s family heard of Erika again. No one understood, why the girl who managed to steal the man was the one bitter.
Years turned to decades. The children of Erika and the second wife’s have all grown up civil to one another, like stepsiblings ought to be. The ravages of time caught each one in this ménage à trois. Now all in their 80’s, the 2nd wife walks with a bent back, Ruben can hardly see and walks with a caregiver. No one has seen Erika, thus no one can describe her health condition. However, the 2nd wife, still bitter, still talking about Erika, narrated how Ruben laboriously walks three blocks with his caregiver to where Erika now lives. The caregiver has reported to her that on those occasions, Ruben and Erika put food in each other’s lips like newlyweds.