Prosperous, kind, strong, worthy, challenges and blessings… Happy New Year to all! 🙂
This post is about gratitude to certain people – long overdue and much deserved. I understand, quite a number of you were able to read, got curious about and saddened by the recent series I posted about our mother’s life and her struggle with cancer. Our mother was indeed an exceptional person – highly intelligent, self-styled and yet, very people-oriented. She wasn’t perfect, at all…
In fact, as I was by our mother’s side during her illness, I learned about her flaws, just as I discovered her strengths. My siblings saw through mother’s defenses, way earlier than I did, for some reason. The moment she fell sick, most of them started to move on – easily able to see the huge hole mother’s departure would eventually leave. It is sad, something I have to contend with, until now. But in many ways, theirs were human reactions to a very human and real situation…
Those days and nights mother was in the hospital, there was no telling if she would be able to get out well and alive each time. The oxygen tank always looked to me as some kind of life source, literally. The medical technologists coming in and out of the room appeared to be demi-gods, taking with them specimens every so often and bearing news like missives from the heaven above. The nurses – angels – guarding mother’s frail health and hold on life.
The hospital’s corridor and elevators became familiar scenes in my mind, the pharmacies became succors, the hospital foods eventually turned nauseating and the doctors became partners of some kind – in a fervent bid to save and prolong mother’s life. I learned multi-tasking, despite myself – to be caregiver, nurse and even her doctor, at times. I learned to be precise; a little mistake could have irreversible and even fatal implications.
There were light moments, though – times when mother would not be bugging me with questions on the whereabouts of my siblings, why they were not by her side. Times when we would be contented with each other’s company, taking comfort in each other’s warmth, in the little corner of the hospital that we had. Mother taught me how to watch television, ahaha. This was something that had escaped me, for years. I have always been a big screen person – shows from the tube had difficulty getting and keeping my attention.
Mother taught me how to relax. Her complaint – I have trouble keeping still. She knew I fold clothes when I watch TV, that I have my pencil and sketchpad on hand, whenever I talk to friends on the landline phone. But most of all, I am thankful that mother allowed me to read to her during her illness… Works by Chekhov and Turgenev – rather dull reading, I suppose, for somebody sick. But she usually listened, seemed to understand and certainly, appreciated them. Mother was the one who got me into reading and the only one in the family, I guess, who understood my love for it. Thank you for those moments, Inay. 🙂
Both times mother underwent surgery, she had to have blood transfusions. Friends showed up and offered help – younger sister’s and mine. They had their bloods tested – some passed and some did not. But plenty took the time, came over and extended their sympathy to mother and us. I cannot thank you enough, people, for your donation of time and love… I especially thank my sister’s schoolmates – from the best law school in the country. I hope you, guys, have good practice and wish you prosperous lives. Thank you, deeply. We will not forget you and your deed… 🙂
My friend since early college days, donated blood, both times. He was one of the few I informed about mother’s illness and who visited several times – in the hospital and at the house. For most of the time, he was there, until mother’s interment and beyond… He took me out to play badminton after mother died and with his girlfriend, brought me a puppy, to replace our dog that died. I remember these acts of kindness – unasked and simply given. I do not know how you manage to make yourself scarce, recently. But I thank you, friend, sincerely and hope that we will find a way to pester each other again, soon. And hey, the dog is still around and alive… 😉
My other friend from early college days, who took the time to chat with mother and even watched over her – to give me those 30-minute breaks. She converted our usual gimmicks to pep talks in the hospital canteen and reminded me what an opportunity it was to be with mother (her parents have been in the States for years). Came to our place in the province with two common friends, to lend a shoulder – on the day we buried mother. Took me out to lunches, the first three months mother had been gone. Thank you for taking me out of the house and out of myself. I know, you were only pretending to be in the neighborhood, hah. Those lunches, even the fries at McDo and the coffees at Mister Donut, are priceless. And here dear, deeply appreciated… 🙂
My friends, who are sisters, made me feel that hard times need not lack cheers. I remember when they took me out to go to the mall – just like the old times. We went to Manila area, so I could get a peek of the sunset during the ride in the car. They took leave from work and did a long drive – to attend mother’s wake in the province. On the first weekend after I had gone back to the big city, they were my first visitors in the house; the first ones to check on me, up close. Took the time to talk to me, to be sad with me and to remind me what laughter was like… Dropped by unannounced, singly or together, at work or in the house, and took me out to dinners or movies. Thank you, friends, for going out of your way, for making me feel that I was not alone. 🙂 🙂
My mother’s friends, two respected teachers in the province in particular, who embraced me during the wake and whispered to me that I should go back to work at once and resume life – for that was how mother would want me to do. Thank you, for you friendship to mother and for your care for hers… 🙂 🙂
I especially thank one of mother’s senior surgeons – who lent his service for free during her second surgery. His fee would have been considerable and free surgical service was unusual, as unexpected. On the billing statement – just the specialist’s name and no amount… The good doctor accepted the two trays of graham pie I made, a few days after mother’s surgery and the other two I brought to his clinic, two weeks after mother passed away… We got to talk, both instances: he asked me how I could help him help his other cancer patients. I clarified to him certain government procedures and gave him names of officers he could write to or call up. Never knew afterwards if my advises helped him or his cause, any. But sure as the sun, he helped us… Thank you, Doc, for your generosity and for a chance encounter with solid, unsolicited kindness… 🙂
Lastly, mother’s lead surgeon, whose credentials, competence and consistency throughout the period, gave mother the assurance she sorely needed. His presence and knowledge were enough to give us hope during those dark and despairing times. He is a TOYM awardee, hailed among the country’s best physicians and given the best alumnus trophy by the University of the Philippines. I saw first-hand – how the doctor is an ace in his field, highly respected by peers and yet, very unassuming as a person. He led the team of doctors who operated on mother twice, conducted her chemo sessions and talked to me, always, like a stern father… Thank you, Doc, for being one of the blessings mother received during her fight. My family and I wouldn’t have it otherwise. You will always be remembered here, forever too grateful… 🙂
*** Gee, this isn’t short, huh? My apologies, folks… 😉 🙂 🙂 Wishing you all the best for 2013!