It’s my day. The usual greetings poured in from friends around the world, even from those who have been out-of-my-reach for quite some time. Sa inyong lahat po na nakaalala at bumati, thank you. Unlike previous 9/11’s (yeah, most people hate this day, but it’s mine anyway), I woke up stressed to be happy today. Aside from both my girls being sick and feverish, my Dad recently had a stroke on the left side of his brain. Because the stroke was sudden and unexpected, the family has been in many shifts for almost a month now. Though my Mom and my eldest sister takes on the job of taking care of my Dad, the situation has become mental and emotional toll for the whole family.
I was with him just about 2 months ago. He was lively as ever and he seemed healthy and happy. My sisters and I were with him during this year’s Father’s day. It was probably the first Father’s Day celebration we had in 15 yrs and the best one ever. Until the stroke happened out of the blue and there was no time to prepare.
Being far from him at this time is an additional burden because I could not physically take care of him as much as I would love to. Every night and day, I pray for my Dad to recover. I pray to God to touch this man with his healing hands so that I could hear him talk again on the phone. I remember the last time we had a long phone conversation, he thought he was talking to my sister instead of me, and I just let him go on talking. I was smiling on the other line, because he was not a bit in doubt that it was me. Then, finally, he asked me something about my sister’s new house and I was not able to answer. He laughed so hard he was chuckling. Oh, that familiar sound I miss so much. I would trade all birthday gifts in the world to hear him laugh again.
How can I be happy today when that man I love so much, the one who used to have everything under control could not take a grip of the things in his own mind now? He’s anxious and probably depressed, and I heard he gets the mood sometimes. What if his current reality proves to be his new normal. That I cannot accept and it always brings me to tears because my strong, smart Dad of 35 years cannot help himself sit or stand nor speak (or control) his mind clearly. Yesterday, I was told he fell on the bed again. I thought maybe he was trying if he could turn to the other side of the bed but he couldn’t.
I feel for my Mom and my sister who are with him right now and I regret that I could not help them physically. My uncle and his wife are there for support right now, and I’m grateful to them. At times I feel that it would be best to hire a nurse and yet would that mean we’re paying somebody to take care of him while that's what we, his kids, are supposed to do?
Every 11th of Sept. probably during the past 34 years or since then that I was old enough to remember, my dad never failed to greet me with a cheerful birthday greeting. The birthday cards and long, rather sentimental letters he wrote for me were always happy additions.
But today, it is different. My loving Dad could not probably grip a pen to write a birthday card or a note for me. He has trouble saying my name and I somehow think that he must have forgotten my birthday too.
Anyway, it’s 11th and nonetheless it’s my day of the year, and I still do believe in birthday wishes. So today, mine would be for my Dad whom I love so much.
When I was small, my Dad used to tell me “mag ingat ka, wag tatanga-tanga!”. It may have sounded harsh to everyone except me because I never doubted my Dad’s real intention of letting me know how much he loves me and how much he wanted me to learn how to take care of myself, especially when he was not around.
Most of my childhood friends teased me for having a very strict Dad who would not let me go anywhere without him. I knew then that he never wanted me to feel alone or perhaps he was thinking that I, being the youngest girl in the family, was too soft or fragile. There were so many occasions and parties I never had the chance to attend because my Dad forbids me to. Once, he agreed that I attend a late night birthday party of my best friend in high school, after he dropped me off to the venue, I thought he went home, but I was not quite surprise to see him after 10 minutes, chatting with my friend’s Dad and stayed the whole evening waiting for me.
Finally, I graduated high school and my Dad didn’t approve of my studying in Manila. I was determined not to stay in our province. I had to convince him hard to let me stay and study in the city. For him, a family should always stay together in one place. But I had already set my mind that I will prove him how strong I am to live alone.
I was lucky to get a scholarship in the university, but expenses in the city were just too much for a newbie- boarding house, food, projects, etc. At the back of my mind, I knew that I could just call my Dad and tell him I could come back to the province with them, but I was even more resolute to prove my Dad that I can survive alone. I didn’t complain nor let anyone back home think that I was having a hard time during my first year so I applied for a part time job in a fast food chain and I studied harder and worked at the same time.
During my college days, I hardly had time to spend with my Dad. I worked during summer breaks and did my internship in some. But whenever I go home, I always spend time with my Dad and I always made sure that I let him know how much I missed him.
After two years of working in Manila, I’ve decided to try my luck abroad. I blindly signed a contract to work as a Pharmacist in a hospital here in Riyadh. My Dad didn’t want me to leave. I remember so clearly how hard he tried to convince me to stay, but I was firm. I knew that I broke his heart when I left Manila for the first time in May 2002. My dad was in the airport with me. I hugged him tight and he hugged me even tighter as if he didn’t want to let me go. “Magiingat ka Ineng dun ha.. iba na ang mundong pupuntahan mo dun sa Saudi.” Those were his words to me before his eyes were into too much tears. It was perhaps a warning of how complicated life could be ahead of me or maybe his silent way of telling me how sad he was to see his youngest daughter leave him for long.
That was ten years ago. I now have a family of my own and I have learned more about responsibility and commitment. I have learned not only to be strong, but more to be tough with life’s challenges. I have become more resilient with my decisions and stand up for things which do not only concern me but my family. I learned how to prioritize my children’s happiness over mine. I’m sure that my Dad will somehow be proud of me when I get the chance to tell him how matured his little girl has become.
If there’s something in me that hasn’t changed all these years, it’s my deep longing to spend time with my Dad again. My heart breaks every time my sister reminds me that he’s changed so much in the recent months. Maybe it’s because of his health condition, that he’s taking a lot of medications. Or maybe it’s because of his age. For whatever reason it may be, my Dad will always be the best father in the world for me. He will always be my strong confidante, my soldier, my number one fan, my mentor, my idol. In my lifetime, he is the only man who has loved me unconditionally. My Dad will always be God’s greatest gift for me in this world.
Happy Father’s Day Sarge!!! I miss you sooooo much!
_ After a tiring 2 hour walking and biking at a park near our home, we were off to bed. All set to sleep, Aisha suddenly remembered that she saw a helicopter earlier that day.
“E-li-kan-ter talaga yun! (It was really a “helicopter”!)”, she was very happy telling us.
We laughed over Aisha’s “e-li-kan-ter” for helicopter. Then Eric said, “Aisha, it’s HE-LI-COP-TER.”
Aisha: He-li-cop-ter! He-Li-cop-ter! Heli- copter!
Yeheyyyy!!!!! We all cheered. That was quite a word.
Suddenly, I just wanted to test if she can say “ha and he” well.
Me: Aishe, say LU-HA (tears).
Aisha, thinking, paused for a while, then she said, “LU…. YA”.
We all chuckled. She couldn’t say “HA” correctly from Lu-HA. She kept on saying Lu-YA.
Finally, we were laughing too hard and she was almost giving up for not being able to say it correctly. Eric, Alia and I were trying to convince her to say “lu-HA” over and over but Aisha kept stuttering: LU—YA.
I told Aisha that she cannot go to school if she won’t be able to say it correctly. I told her that we won’t give her a fourth birthday party if she’s still “bulol”. She was furious! She threw her pillows from the bed. I just turned my back and left her like that- upset as she was.
I didn’t know how long I was already sleeping beside her but facing on the other side. I suddenly woke up and I heard Aisha whispering behind me. She was murmuring softly on a sad tone: “he-li-copter….lu-ya…lu…aaa…lu-ya….ang hirap naman… heli- copter….lu—aaa…lu---yaaaaa… di ko naman kaya”. She was practicing!!!!!
I didn’t know how long she did that. She just kept repeating the words and she had a hard time. I knew she was sad…I sensed it in her tone, but she was determined to say it right. I wasn’t sure how to react so I just pretended that I didn’t hear her and I went back to sleep.
Next morning, she woke up early. I was preparing for work and she came to me, smiling. “Mama, listen…. Lu…HA… luha! Luha!!!!” she said happily! “Wow! Very good, Aisha!!!”, I cheered.
I hugged her. My little baby sure did her homework last night and I’m a proud Mom as ever.
"Life doesn't always turn out as we plan it to be... Most of the time, we need to thread the needle just to get by... but along this path we meet people who inspire us to go on persevering, giving us a reason to just keep trying... tomorrow may bring something different... something to lift our hopes and when the pieces fall into their places... We will realize that life turned out to be better than we ever expected".
Wherever you may be right now, I hope that you find the happiness that you so deserved. I will always remember the concern, love, and wisdom that you generously have showered me with. Thank you for being born in my lifetime.
I was browsing through my blogs @weebly when I suddenly had the urge to view my previous blogs at Friendster. I clicked on the link and was surprised to see that the page is unavailable. Thinking it may be a network glitch, I tried refreshing the page for a couple of times to no avail. Until it finally came to me that Friendster Blogsite does not exist anymore.
Damn it. I had used Friendster blogs since I started, well, blogging in 2002. I had perhaps a hundred of so much fun, crazy, emotional and even freaky entries back there.
I sent an email to the Friendster Team (admin) in high hopes that I would be helped out to get a chance to retrieve my blogs and the reply was:
Friendster Team: We're sorry but we can no longer retrieve old blogs. We gave you a chance to export them as early as April. You should have exported it then.
Shocked as I was with Friendster Team's "blaming" answer to my plea, my reply was: Hell yeah???!! How come I didnt even receive a notification email that the site was finally crashing for good? Don't you guys even have a heart to help your loyal users like me who had used your site for almost 7 years in each and every emotional outpour I had? What about all the memories I saved on that blog site? Doesn't anyone among your team know something not-so -technical called "back-up"?
I was like "crying over spilled milk". I didn't know what to do and I felt so devastated. Felt like a significant part of me was forcefully taken away from me.
D E L E T E D.
So today, I learned that I cannot trust anything or anyone to back me up and that I always have to be responsible for my own stuff. Nothing is really permanent.
Another lesson learned- the hard way. Ouch!!!
And for one thing, I so hate you Friendster!
Early morning, my alarm clock woke me up. Lazily, and with eyes still closed, I stretched my left arm to reach it on the small table beside our bed. Reach…search…tap… my alarm clock was not on the table!
Still half asleep, I remembered that I kept it the previous night on the shelf because Aisha wanted to play with it. So, with a heavy head, I forced myself to get up to turn the alarm off before my little girl wakes up from the noise.
As a routine (like a walking robot), I turned a soft room light on, took my towel from the rack and headed to take a shower. On my way to the bathroom, I looked at the wall clock and I was surprised—it was only 4:30am!! How come I was heading to the bathroom at 4:30 in the morning? Why did the alarm clock ring at 4:30am? Ahhh… for sure my kids played with it and they must have messed up with the time-setting again. Tsk. tsk.
I knew that I wouldn’t be able to sleep again although I have almost 2 hours left before I should wake Alia up for school, so I got myself a cup of coffee and went to the living room.
I put my coffee down the table and sit on the couch. It was 4:45am. As I leaned backward and felt the headrest of the sofa, I felt relaxed and I closed my eyes…
There was an abrupt scuttle of a hundred thoughts in my mind. I thought of what I would wear to work, will the weather be colder today, what snack should I let Alia bring to school, if Eric would want to eat breakfast at home or bring something to office, if Aisha would need to take a cough medicine, if my boss will come early for our meeting, if the executive committee will like the presentation I prepared the day before, if my Mom received the remittance I sent, if George replied to my email, when our electricity bill is due for payment, if we would need to find a new house to rent… etc..etc..
Isn’t it amazing how so many things in our lives seem very complicated, and yet remain simple? Like how fast a hundred thoughts could fill up a mind, things-lots of them- happen at the same time and still they seem to go by in tune. Somebody up there must be really busy syncing all these complexities and bringing them into the line.
I remember how my life had been so simply undemanding before. I smile at the thought of waking up thirty minutes before work and feeling a slight hangover from a night out with friends. A hot shower had always been a favorite remedy. Oh boy, I miss those friends I had back then.
I had to admit that everything changes. I learned that life never stays the same and so are the people we are living it with. Back in Manila, when I was younger, I thought being strong was just being able to assert myself, insist on what I want, rebel a bit, and stuff. But as I mature during more than ten years of my stay here in Riyadh, I’ve met a hell lot of people who had forced me to believe a very unlikely idea of being brave and strong- that it’s never enough that you assert yourself, but you also need to prove a hundred times that you’re correct and they’re wrong (I mean it-- a hundred times). Being tough does not only mean that you carry around a happy face but it’s showing people you are never scathed or hurt and you have to smile no matter how awful you feel inside.
Is it perhaps because Im in the middle of a community of expatriates? - different families, different stories, different attitudes- we share the same drama of living away from “home”, surviving in an anomalous foreign workplace, and sometimes even trying hard to fit in a place which will never be our own.
Among these not-so-foreign people around me, I’ve realized that I better be extra careful with whom I would consider friends and family. Most of them are only people- not even friends. There’s a bunch of users and abusers waiting for every chance they could get to bite off an ear. Even Facebook has to define what “friends” really are. I don’t buy the idea of categorizing a close friend and learning after a while that she/he has included me on his/her “restricted” friends. Will “real” friends do that? I guess not. So what’s the delete/ unfriend button for?
Meanwhile, family is permanent and most of the time, it’s not even just biological. People and friends may hurt us but family will feel the slightest pain with us. Of course, family do not always agree on what we want, or accept what we do—but at the end of the day, a family will always accept us for who we are.
I thank God for a beautiful family he has given me- the one I grew up with and the one I have around me right now. I wish I could see more of my friends and spend time with them. For the people around me who like, dislike, hate, love, or feels nothing at all, towards me thanks for being in my life too because you make me who I am-- probably not stronger but definitely more practical.
DIVING IN SAUDI ARABIA AND LOVING IT! PART 2
**please read my previous blog DIVING IN SAUDI ARABIA AND LOVING IT! PART 1
“…it’s for the thrill of the unknown... seeing creatures underwater and craving to see more of them again and again. For me, diving is neither a sport nor a hobby… every dive is always an overwhelming experience of life in a different world that ordinary people do not often see” -MMO
After a weekend diving trip in Yanbu, Saudi Arabia last month (May 2011), our group immediately arranged another diving trip for June 2011- although we had the same Red Sea target, this time it had to be in Jeddah, KSA.
In between the preparation (and waiting time) for the upcoming diving trip to the Red Sea in Jeddah, I was up to my neck organizing a Discover Scuba Diving Event for our PISD- Riyadh Group (which came as a success by the way) and a series of lectures for OWD, AOWD and Rescue Diver lecture sessions in our house in the evenings.
So, last Wednesday, 1 June 2011, our group of nine divers hit the road to Jeddah Saudi Arabia at 11:00pm. The long drive (almost 10 hrs) was exhausting as usual but the thought of diving at the Red Sea (again) kept my spirit high.
Although things didn’t go quite well as we hoped and planned especially that Thursday, we were assisted by co-PISD guyz Rannier and Dennis from Jeddah and our group had a quick siesta at the Rose Garden Suites before we go to Al Nakheel Beach Resort for diving. Of course, shopping for diving gears and stuff along the way was, as usual, one priority.
DAY 1: LATE AFTERNOON DIVE
We reached our first dive site (Al Nakheel Beach) around 5:00pm and we hasted gearing up for our first dive while the sun was still up. There were a lot of people in the resort and divers were everywhere. While we were at the divers’ dock, I look down and saw some divers exiting the waters and some making different entry styles. For a while, I was a bit scared. It was my very first diving adventure in Jeddah and the waves were big and strong even near the shore. I kept my fingers crossed--- I can do this, I thought.
Our Instructor advised me to buddy up with Kahlui and Allan for that late afternoon dive. Eric had some throat infection and colds so he didn’t dive with us and he let me use his dive computer. Contrary to my expectation that I might have difficulty in our first dive, it turned out to be a cheerful, calm and good dive with my first time buddies (KL and AGA).
DAY 1: NIGHT DIVE
When the sun finally set in, we started preparing for our second dive: night dive. I had mixed feelings thinking about my first ever night dive: reluctant because I just started with my advanced open water diver course and I haven’t had read about the night dive section yet (although I have watched the video about it; anxious because I hardly had enough energy left from an exhausting trip earlier; excited because I’ve heard so many stories from co-divers about a totally different scene underwater at night; happy because my instructor allowed me to join the group for the night dive.
All geared up (Eric’s new dive comp. and LED flashlight with me! Yey!!) and after a short discussion about night dive plan we gathered on the other platform to enter the water.
I felt the splash of cold water on my face as I slowly joined the rest of the divers who were already waiting in the water. I couldn’t remember if I was more scared than excited or more excited than scared. I’ve always hated being out in the dark on-land…how could I possibly involved myself in a night dive?! I looked around and see the cheery faces of my co-divers and I started to feel more relaxed. I felt the LED flashlight that Eric had dangled on the left side my BCD jacket and turned it on just as I saw the other divers did. I felt my mask once again and fixed the regulator on my mouth securely.
Upon the signal of our Instructor to go down, we descended slowly. The water was obviously colder than it was an hour before during our late afternoon dive. Everyone signaled “ok” and I did too… then we were instructed to stay close together as a group and be right next to our buddies all the time.
As we carefully went deeper, I started to feel that the water has started to become a lot colder. I glanced at the dive computer and it registered 45 feet. I look around and noticed that my co-divers were feasting their eyes on the night spectacle. I saw flashes of lights as if they were dancing along the corals. Some fishes were attracted to the light and so they swim closer to us. I bet though that some were rather uncomfortable with the lights (and probably us) so they hide in the reefs. A few more glides and my flashlight caught a sight of a very big lion fish- the biggest one I’ve seen.
For what seemed like forever, I stayed in awe on the very different picture in front of me during that night. There were a million thoughts running through my mind as we glided slowly around an extraordinary scene of glowing corals and reefs and the translucent little creatures joyfully dancing and playing around us as if enjoying the night as much as we, divers, do. We were all huddled not too far from the coral wall which extends way down below and way far across in a seemingly endless depth and length that my flashlight could not fathom. Everything I focused my light on was beautiful… everything just seems to glow…everything was so peaceful and yet so inspiring.
I felt like I was dreaming in wonderland (or was it wonder-water??!!) until I felt a soft nudge from my Instructor as he signaled if I’m OK. I replied to him guiding the light to my hand for an “ok” signal. I checked my air and realized that I have already stayed long underwater although the length of time was not enough. I reckoned that it was already time for us to ascend so I rolled my flashlight around the site once again, as if to say goodbye to the nightly creatures I didn’t want to leave behind.
DAY 2: MORNING DIVE= DEEP DIVE
I woke up early the next day excited for my first ever DEEP DIVE. Fortunately, it’s part of my Advanced Open Water Diver Certification Course. From the hotel where we stayed at, our group hit the road off to Al Bilad Beach Resort @ 7:30am that Friday.
There were more divers in Al Bilad than in Al Nakheel where we stayed the day before, but the divers’ dock in Al Bilad is smaller. The water was very clear and there were so many fishes along the shore—a real eye candy for snorkelers. But the waves were huge though- and the corals were really some pain on the feet and legs . Too many times, I fell from the big waves and I got bruises from them too!
While assembling our gears and equipment, I realized that I am really going to DEEP DIVE for the first time. I mean, I have previously thought about it, but when I was right there listening to our Instructor about our multilevel-deep dive activity, I started to feel goose bumps in my stomach, a sign of an anxiety coming up. I couldn’t help but ask our Instructor if he really believes that I can go to our planned depth. Questions started forming in my mind—what if I cannot equalize during the deep dive? What if I accidentally tip off my regulator? What if I run out of air fast? What if…. What if?!
I had to plead for a confirmation (and another re-confirmation) from my Instructor that I will be able to do it. I asked Eric several times if he was so sure that I can do a deep dive. For one, I didn’t trust myself—afterall, I’ve always been afraid of water all my life (except for the last seven months or so that I have involved myself to diving at least) and I don’t know how to swim!
So finally, it came to me that I was left without a choice rather than to go for it. Our instructor assigned me to buddy up with my co-AOW Diver students. There were four of us: Allan, Joel, Me and Grace. I was instructed to stay close to Allan during the deep dive.
Slowly we descended and I kept my eyes focused to the group. At first, I was very conscious of the depth we’re heading to that I almost have ignored the amazing underwater environment of the Red Sea. Then I forced myself to relax. I shrugged off the thought that it is a deep dive. I told myself that it is just an ordinary dive-and it should be an enjoyable one. I heard myself telling my “scared” self—“hey girl! It’s the Red Sea!!! You didn’t come all the way here to panic and get anxious eh??!!” Then I was free!!!
At 40 feet, I glided with my buddy across the vast coral wall that was totally more stunning with the splash of sunlight softly touching it. There were innumerable tiny little damselfishes- playful as they are- seem to be everywhere I go. And my favorite two bar anemone fishes (they’re actually, my daughter Alia’s first friend-fish named Nemo from the movie).
After a while, we were signaled to go deeper. I checked my SPG and it read 60 feet. It was a normal dive- cheerful and fun with Ka Louie joining me and Allan from time to time. I forgot that it was a deep dive!
Then we went down deeper. I felt some pressure but it was not enough to make me uncomfortable. My dive computer read 95 feet! I looked around and everything felt warm and relaxing. We glided around, pointing to unique species around the site. The visibility was so good…it was unfortunate that we forgot to bring along a camera for the deep dive.
DAY 2: NOON DIVE= FUN DIVE
We could hardly stop laughing and giggling after the deep dive as it was a really great first time adventure for me. Reaching 95 feet below, calmly and with so much excitement, was a feat for myself that I will never forget.
We spent the next hour surface interval waiting for our cylinder tanks to be refilled from the dive shop. I felt my head getting bigger as everyone in the group kept complimenting me for doing the deep dive successfully. Of course, everyone in the group knows that I was previously afraid and I was particularly uneasy of depths. I know I wouldn’t have done it without our group’s support too. These divers were like family to me- and I am so lucky to be among them in this divescapade.
At 12:30pm, we were geared up for our fun dive!
After a short briefing, our instructor agreed that Grace and I will be buddies in our fun dive (fourth and last dive during that weekend) and Eric, Jason and DM Dennis will be watching us. (You see….when we, ladies go diving….the men in our group think that we need babysitters… lolz). We planned to do some fish feeding underwater so we brought some packs of fish food along. However, during descent, I had difficulty holding my fish food and equalizing at the same time, so I dropped it (*dropped it, I guess , is not the right word since I saw the bottle of fish food zoomed afloat when I released it). I stayed closer to DM Dennis during the ascent and I noticed that he was holding a pack-ful of fish food so hundreds of fishes came towards us. It was almost impossible to see through them as there were just so many fishes right infront of my face.
I moved my way farther from the fish crowd and came near my buddy, Grace. Before I could signal anything to her, she put out her fish food (which she had tucked inside her BCD) and then again hundreds of fishes rushed to where we were. It was a cool sight, seeing all those fishes in different sizes and colors so close to our faces (Geez, I even tried to catch them but I cannot even touch one!) Grace and I tossed the bottle of fish food several times and we enjoyed watching as more and more fishes gathered in front of us teasingly.
After fish feeding, me and my buddy glided around the site together (holding hands at times, because our “watchers” were very strict that they call our attention immediately if we get far from them by 10 feet!
We had fun taking pictures as a group in the platform (Al Bilad’s) and Eric also took several videos of us gliding through the stunning clear waters of the Red Sea with its hundreds of thousands different species of marine life (too bad I do not know their names yet! Argh!!!) Finally, just before we ascend, I saw a rare white spotted brown Pacific Angel shark and a very big black eel along.
FOUR DIVES WRAPPED UP!
At the end of our last dive for that weekend in Jeddah, I found myself convinced that all the efforts, time, money spent for a dive trip was well worth it. The Red Sea never runs out of ambiguity and for a new diver like me, it is the unknown that kept me thrilled and excited on every diving adventure.
To say that I have overly enjoyed our recent four dives in the Red Sea, Jeddah will not be enough to explain how much I really liked it- not only because of the breathtaking splendor underwater—but most importantly because every dive presents a unique experience for me- and most of the time- it breaks off boundaries within me that I never thought I could. Reaching a depth that no ordinary people usually arrive at gives me the feeling that I could conquer my fears…and that I could always find something beautiful in just about anything.
It’s a liberating feeling… a humble, yet wonderful achievement. For most people who know me since I was young (I have always been a weakling when I was growing up…and I was always the “scared one” who didn’t want to go anywhere dark or quiet”). But now, when I think about places I’ve been, creatures I’ve seen and depths I’ve reached—I smile….knowing that the little scared weakling had finally gotten better off more than enough.
My Little Big Ate
Last night, I had a hard time when I was reviewing Alia for her Final Quarter Exam in Math. It was a struggle for me because I know that Math has never been her favorite subject in school plus I observed that she was not in her usual good mood to study. I tried to be calm and extra patient but she didn’t buy it.
Although, I realized that I must have been putting unnecessary pressure on my 5 year old daughter, I still insisted on her. In my mind, I thought that she had to benefit from the review because she didn’t make good enough on the two previous long tests in Math. This final exam is her last chance to maintain her grade in Math at least.
She recalled most of their lessons from first to third quarter but she seemed confused with adding and subtracting although I explained to her several times. As I repeated further, all the more she got puzzled. Finally, she put her pencil down, looked intently at me and said:
“Ma, did your mommy teach you your lesson when you were going to school?”
I was shocked, but before I could answer her, she said, “Ma, I already learned this subtraction last week from my teacher…and now, you got me all confused!” Then she sobbed.
It broke my heart seeing my daughter so upset (because of me). I hugged her tight and explained to her that I was only trying to help her so she would do well on her exam.
She looked at me again, and said, “Okay, you want me to get good grade… but how will I remember all these things when I am so tired and sleepy and you are shouting at me at the same time?”
I was dumbfounded. Boy, how could I be so naïve?!
I stood up and told her I would get her a glass of milk from the kitchen. It was more of an “escape’ than a temporary relief for me.
When I got back, Alia had composed herself back (or was it I who did so?). I tried to be more relaxed with her. I gave her more time to think and do the practice tests mostly by herself.
It has been a rough week for us since our housemaid unexpectedly left. Since then, we were trying to get a replacement but we were not lucky.
For me, it means a heavily taxing week: laundry, cooking, cleaning, babysitting, tutoring Alia (thank God it’s her last week at school this week), plus plus plus. It also means no badminton, no brisk walking with friends, no workout, no malling, no shopping. To top it all, I have a regular 8 hour work in the office and a two hour part time work every other day. Somebody up there might as well turn me a Superwoman soon!
So, early morning on weekdays, while Alia goes to school, we drop Aisha to a day care/ babysitter. She never liked the idea and so we had to force her to stay there. Alia joins her at the same place after her morning class. I spared myself from having to go through this dilemma so I asked Eric to drop Aisha by to leave her.
Yesterday, I decided to leave work early and go to the day care/ babysitter to check on Alia and Aisha. They were both asleep when I reached the place. I counted 11 kids in one room. Four of them were older than Alia, five were almost in the same age as Aisha. I saw one boy locked in a seat carrier which was tied up near a huge cabinet. I asked the girls why the boy was placed like that and one of them told me that he is naughty and that is punishment for him. I witnessed how the little boy tried to squeeze himself out from the seat carrier and he stumbled many times, hurting himself. I tried to help him but the rope was tight. Then I asked the attendant to release him (as he was obviously hurt and very uncomfortable), but she just shrugged it off. She said that indeed, the boy is very naughty and if he gets free from the chair, he would mess up with other kids.
So I sat in the corner of the room. Although Alia and Aisha were still sleeping, I wished Eric would come to pick us up immediately but he was busy at work.
While other kids were playing in and out of the room, Alia woke up. When she saw me, she rushed towards me and hugged me. She asked if I’m done from work and if I came to pick them up. I told her yes and she said she wanted to stay for another 10 minutes to play with the other kids. I nodded at her.
Then after a while, Aisha also woke up. When she saw me, she run towards me and cried. In between sobs, she told me that her Papa left her in that place since morning and he didn’t come back to get her. She asked me if we could then to go home.
Suddenly, the other kids, came inside the room carrying some toys. They wanted to play restaurant make-believe. I noticed that the boy (who was tied up) struggled to stand and reach a toy-ice cream which one of the older girls were holding. Immediately, the girl kicked him. In disbelief, I stood up and pulled the girl’s hand.. but another girl beat the boy’s head and the other kids followed. The poor boy covered his face with his hands and started to cry.. but the other kids continue to hit him. I heard Alia shouting: “Hey!! Stop, stop! (she pushed the other kids away from the boy)..Don’t hurt him!” She shouted.
The other kids stopped and looked at her, puzzled. I saw Alia reached for the boy and put her arms around him, as if trying to protect him. “He’s just a baby! Don’t hurt him!” she told the other kids.
Sounding irritated, one of the girls blurted, “HMP! (pointing her finger at Alia) Jan ka na nga! Wag ka ng makikipaglaro sa min!!!” (“You stay there, don’t play with us anymore!”)
Then she stormed out of the room and the other kids followed behind her like an army.
Although Alia looked upset (upon hearing that the older girls told her she could not play with them again), she tried to comfort the little boy. I noticed that Aisha had clutched herself beside me more tightly. She looked at me and then to Alia, but she didn’t say anything. I knew she was as shocked as me and confused…
I often think that Alia is tougher than any girls her age. I mean for a girl, she’s not as refined as my family thought I was when I was little.
But this girl’s heart is amazing. Her compassion exudes from her small built and would inspire any adult she gets a chance to talk with- that is, of course, when she’s in good mood.
While I was forcing her to get good grades at school, I may have missed my daughter’s sensitivity and sometimes, her right of being a child. I always need to be reminded to let her take her time and develop her skills, academic and otherwise, at her own pace—no forcing—because I, for one, was never forced in any way to do what I don’t want to do—neither at school or at home.
At the end of the day, I realized that my daughters, with the special bonding we have right now, share with me the burden of us living abroad apart from most loved ones and family. We all get tired, stressed, upset, and reach almost- giving up -moments at certain times. But standing for what we think is right, and carrying on the values we learned from our family and the generations before us, no matter if odds are against us, would definitely be a great advantage as we meet and deal with people of all races, ages, and religion in this foreign land—for only God knows until when our stay here lasts.
DRAWING DOWN THE CURTAINS
I had been trying to call my Dad’s phone for the nth time and he won’t pick up… at times his phone wouldn’t even ring or the signal would drop. I kept trying because I wanted to talk to him.
After almost an hour, he finally answered my call. He told me that he was in the hospital where my Lola was confined due to severe bleeding ulcer. I recognized the unusual sad tone in his voice and as I expected, before his voice would have cracked, he passed the phone to my Mom.
I am pretty sure that my Dad is probably more emotional than any other dad my friends do have. I must have inherited “emo” genes from him, by the way. Although they had some minor misunderstandings before, my Lola and my Dad went along very well. And for my Dad who lost his own mother when he was still young, he has treated my Lola (Mom’s mother) like his own mother since he married my Mom.
I found out that Dad grew very sad when he saw my grandmother in the hospital and he talked to her but she did not recognize him. The doctor informed them that my Lola’s memory was failing and she’ll have memory lapses more often …gearing to the possibility of complete memory loss as a result of her old age, disease, and the stress that comes in between.
I suddenly recall the time when Eric was talking to his Dad who was then confined in a hospital in US for liver cirrhosis. That month, Eric was in constant communication with his family because of his Dad’s condition. When he finally talked to him, I heard Eric said, “Daddy, si Eric nga ito…yung anak mo dito sa Saudi!.....”
I heard him trying to remind his Dad about himself… occasions when they were together…places they’ve both gone to, and people they both knew… to no avail.
When he put down the phone, I was standing close to him (waiting for him to say something) and he just looked at me for a while. I asked him if he was okay (I didn’t know what to say too!). He said, “Hindi na talaga ako maalala ni Daddy… Hindi nya daw ako kilala.”
It broke my heart seeing my husband so sad and I didn’t know what to do or what to say, so I just hugged him. I told him that everything will be okay and I’m sure that his Dad will eventually recover from his disease through God’s will. I also tried to convince him that his Dad will remember him again.
But sometimes, those we love so dearly are taken from us too soon. A few weeks later after that call, ten days before Eric’s birthday in 2006, Daddy Boy passed away.
My grandmother’s failing memory struck me because it is, so far, the closest incident I have heard in our family. I kept wondering how it would have been like…if I was there visiting her in the hospital. Will she remember me as her “apo”? Will she even recall my name? Will she tell us all the birthday details of everyone in the family? Will she be happy to see us and give her blessing when we make “mano”? I would have loved to see her cheerful and lively liked she used to be.
At this moment, her health is slipping away and precious memory is regressing with it.
From Patti Davis writing about his Father, Ronald Reagan in The Long Goodbye, “I suppose none of us know how we will grow silent, slip away from this life – or when. It happens in God’s time, not ours, and we grow quiet”.
Right now, I’m just praying that God would keep my grandmother safe… and of course, happy.
I WANNA GROW OLD WITH YOU
I WANNA GROW OLD WITH YOU
(Song and Lyrics by Adam Sandler)
I wanna make you smile, whenever you're sad.
Carry you around when your arthritis is bad.
Oh, all I wanna do, is grow old with you.
I'll get your medicine when your tummy aches,
Build you a fire when the furnace breaks.
Oh, it could be so nice, growin' old with you.
I'll miss you, kiss you,
Give you my coat when you are cold,
Need you, feed you.
I'll even let you hold the remote control.
So let me do the dishes in our kitchen sink,
Put you to bed when you've had too much to drink.
Oh I could be the [wo]man who grows old with you.
I wanna grow old with you.
Well, I guess almost everyone has heard about this song from TheWedding Singer (Adam Sandler/ Drew Barrymore). For a few who might have missed it, I supposed you can easily search it in YouTube if you haven’t come across some animated version of it from Facebook yet.
I was talking with a close friend earlier and our usual silly jokes towards each other turned to a more serious topic of getting old. He told me that he is, indeed, afraid to grow old alone. There was a sad tone in his voice as he went on telling me how much time he had spent in his life being focused in his career. Now, at 32, he realized that he has been getting much older ALONE…and he has suddenly become afraid to be on his own until his retirement.
For most people who are unmarried or those who do not have children of their own, planning a successful retirement may be quite bothersome. Of course, there may always be nieces and nephews, brothers and sisters around, but having a family of your own-with a husband/ wife and children to be with, provides an easier, if not the best, course to a blissful senescence , simply because you are almost guaranteed of not being alone in the process.
However, marrying someone does not give you a hundred percent assurance of a happy old age with your wife/husband, although for some lucky couples, it may be a good start.
I was inspired by a verse from co-blogger, Jocelyn Soriano, as it goes:
Growing old together, being wrinkled and cozy and warm at the same time. Knowing that after all the years that passed, some things remain, the most important things do. You have each other, and you look forward to each day as you have looked forward to each one before… with great anticipation and joy. You have traveled the world together, and yet you still see things as though you were seeing it for the first time. You have been tested, and you have been victorious. See how sweet your victory is – for no young love could ever compare to two souls that have danced a lifetime. Heaven.
More than a month ago, while I was talking with my Mom over the phone, I heard my Dad’s voice in the background, as if he was asking Mom for something (it was his car key that he couldn’t find that time). Mom excused herself from me and asked if I wanted to hang up the phone while she helps Dad find what he was searching for. I told Mom I’d wait (although I didn’t have much to tell her anymore coz we already talked for more than fifteen minutes, but I wanted to hear what they were talking about…and how they go through the “key searching” process).
I heard my Dad shouting, as he had obviously become impatient because they couldn’t find the key. Mom insisted that she placed it on the drawer and Dad was saying that he did not take it. So, there were some banging, falling, and slamming and still, they did not find the bloody key. My Dad kept shouting. He picked up the phone and said,”HELLO!HELLO! MEMEN!!! TUMAWAG KA NA LANG ULIT MAMAYA AT HINDI MAHANAP NG INAY ANG SUSI!”. I asked Dad to calm down and to take it easy on my Mom, and then I hung up.
As I put the phone down, I looked at the clock on the wall. It was 1:30pm here (Riyadh) and it’s 6:30pm in Philippines. Probably, it was already dark in our place, and I thought that if Dad happened to leave the key outside the house, in the garage or in our small kubo outside, it would be quite impossible for them to find it then. I was almost certain that if they don’t find the key at once, then it would result to a sleepless night for my old parents. At 64, my Dad could hardly see without his eye glasses especially at night.
There was a big lump on my chest as I waited for thirty minutes to pass by. Then I called again.
Mom: Hello, sino ‘to?
Me: Mommy, si Memen to! Anong balita jan??
Mom: Ay naku Ineng, nahanap din namin ang susi ng van.
Me: Talaga ho? Hala, salamat naman. Haysst. (I breathed out a sigh of relief.) San nyo ho nahanap??
Mom: Dun sa hinubad na short ng Tatay. Sabi ko na nga ba at ginamit nya kanina ang susi.. Kaya lang sabi naman nya ay natingnan na daw nya dun sa lamugan (*lagayan ng mga maruming damit*.
Me: Ah, Mommy, na-mislook nya lang pala…Hay…si daddy talaga…
Mom: Ano pa nga ba?! Yang matandang yan! Hay naku! Napaka sungit eh sha naman itong laging makakalimutin!!! Tapos sa akin pa hinahanap lahat ng gamit nya..mantalang sha naman ang laging gumagamit…tapos pag nawala, sa akin hahanapin!!! Pagsabihan nyo nga yang tatay nyo!......
There were still some other complaints from my Mom but I could not remember them all, until I heard my Dad’s voice while he came towards my Mom.
Dad: Sino yan, Inay? (He sounded far softer than how he was talking to her an hour ago)
Mom: Si Memen…. (pause)
O, kausapin mo! (she gave the phone to my Dad)
Me: Daddy! Kamusta???( I tried to make my voice sound cheerful).
Daddy: Ay di ayos! Nahanap na ang susi..
Me: Sinong nakahanap??? Hahahaha (I teased him).
Daddy: Ay di ang Inay mo…hehe (He was cheerful..and I heard he laughed.) (I bet my Mom was standing near to him, and he was teasing her also. )
Me: Yan..kasi naman…tsktsktsk… Sabi ni Mommy ansungit mo daw eh. Hay naku daddy…easy..easy easy!
When I hung up for the second time, I felt relieved. The tension was over and I was thankful that it was a quick one. Thank God for showing the car key!
In a conversation with a high school friend, I asked her why she chose to remain “single” at the age of 33. She came from a well off family in Mindoro, and she is already a successful civil engineer. Our chat went like this:
Kris: I’ve met several men and I had some relationships in the past, but none of the guys I’ve known fitted in the criteria I have.
Me: So, there should always be huge criteria to select a partner? If you click together, isn’t it all that matters?
Kris: I only dreamt of finding a partner who would understand me and accept me for who I am.
Me: A perfect husband?
Kris: No, certainly not. I never asked God for a perfect husband- just somebody who would appreciate me, and somebody who will look forward to growing old with me. But I was not able to feel that—at least not with any men I met before. Perhaps somebody up there had planned something for me otherwise.
Me: Well, I hope you find him. There’s never too late for true love for anyone, right?
Kris: I know. Thanks ‘Men.
In our lives, choosing whether to be alone or to be with somebody to grow old with is a personal decision. It is however mandatory that we choose a certain path, because growing old, like death, is inevitable. So while we can, as long as WE still can, we need to focus on investing for a happy, successful retirement, alone or otherwise.
My point is that, if finding the right partner becomes impossible, then maybe, we should try being the right partner for someone.
I’m happy for my parents that they complement each other almost perfectly. (On a sad note that right now, being far from them, I very seldom witness this magical experience unfold before my eyes). My Dad, being strict and harsh and my Mom being cheerful and carefree. Of course, there’s a lot of fighting and shouting along the way (everyday!!!), but ultimately, they eat every single meal together, sleep together on the same one bed every night, and they wake up every single day, happy to see each other. For a daughter like me, it’s one of the greatest blessings I receive from God, and I’m thankful of it every day. I hope and pray that their love (although they sometimes call it “tolerance”) for each other will outlast their age…and that the ever good God give them more years of togetherness… with us.
As for me, when the time comes that I no longer can write a blog, I’ll let you know how much I appreciate growing old with you because…
I know you’d be there for me when I feel down- to comfort me, to assure me that things would be okay even if they don’t seem so… I know you would hug me when I’m scared because I’ll keep you warm when you feel cold...I know you would think I’m beautiful because you always assure me that you like the way I look….I know you’d be proud of me because I would always show off your achievements to my friends….I know you’d to talk to me when something’s bothering you because I will always be there when you need someone to listen to you….I know you’d make me smile because I will always make sure that you are happy with me….
It will be a two-way relationship. You and me together, giving and sharing. After all, you taught me that perfection can only be achieved by two hearts beating as one... turning on each other for strength and comfort.
When our kids find their own successful lives with our guidance, then it will be you and me, together, alone, AGAIN.
At the end of the day, I could perhaps play the song by Adam Sandler and let you feel how blessed I am to share the rest of my life with you.
What makes me happy?
People. Everyone around me who believes and inspires me.
Life itself is a happy experience. The world is a happy place.
I had my own share of struggles, life was not easy for us back then but my Dad taught me how to believe in myself, work hard , be kind and to be strong. He inspired me to go out of my comfort zone. He used to tell me that the possibilities in life are endless and so I believed him.
l Iost him quite a few years ago but he has left me with so much inspiration to follow my dreams - to visit places I have only dreamt of or have seen in the movies when I was little and to do things I thought were only for the privileged few.
Wherever I go, I always remember my Dad, wishing he could see me from afar and somehow be proud of me as I have always been so proud of him. Life is short and I promised him that I would make the most of mine.
Travelling makes me happy and in all other things, I choose happiness. We all should- always..