Spend more time with your parents
OHIO, US – I was annoyed with myself. I couldn’t even lift my luggage high enough to the overhead compartment of the plane – or even bring it down. I had to depend on good Samaritans to do it for me. I was so embarrassed for being such a weakling.
“Just like your Dad,” says an old man to me, smiling, after pulling my luggage out of the compartment and putting it on the floor.
He didn’t know, of course, that my father had passed away in March. He didn’t know that his simple comment affected me so much.
After thanking the man profusely for helping me with my luggage, I marched out of the plane trying to feign composure. At the JFK airport in New York, I found myself crying inside an empty bathroom.
I felt it was Daddy right there inside the plane helping me with my bag.
I’m writing this on November 1. Mama and my two sisters are in La Union to visit Daddy in the cemetery. They’ll probably cry together as I am right now writing this. I miss Daddy.
I recall him always saying when we were in the cemetery: “Why are we here today? It’s All Saints’ Day. Is anyone here a saint? We should come back tomorrow, All Souls’ Day.” Then everybody gets a laugh.
Last year, he was still strong. As we always did on November 1, we visited Lolo, Lola, Daddy’s first wife Ofelia, and his siblings who died so young.
I remember watching him climb unsteadily the hilly cemetery in his white rubber shoes. What if he stumbles and wounds himself? Daddy is diabetic. His injuries didn’t always heal so fast and so well.
In December 2007, Daddy’s kidneys collapsed and he started undergoing dialysis. Since then, we watched his body deteriorate.
I heard about relatives who underwent dialysis and heard of their sufferings. But I never understood what dialysis was all about until I saw Daddy’s blood flow through tiny tubes the size of straws.
His blood streamed out of his body into a machine that cleaned his blood (what kidneys should be doing) and then sent it back to his body.
It’s a kind of suffering that only those who’ve seen loved ones go through it can understand.
Twice a week for the next 4 years and 3 months – until the day he died – he regularly attended his dialysis sessions like classes he could not skip. Each session took 4 hours and Mama was his constant companion.
Dialysis sessions always left Daddy very tired. In the beginning, he would spend the rest of the day sleeping to recover his strength. But as years went by, he learned to just live with the pain.
What was so impressive about Daddy was how his personality and his lifestyle didn’t change through it all. He didn’t sulk. He was the same man who loved to be around family and friends. He was the same man who always loved to tease people just to make them laugh. He liked calling family friends to the house and serve them beer even if he could not drink himself – not even water.
He would sit to talk and laugh with them, watch them drink their beers, while he licked his ice cubes. Then he would retreat to his room when he felt tired.
There were several times he declared he wanted to stop undergoing dialysis. He always complained about the needles – I think as big as one-inch nails – that were injected on the same spot twice a week. There were days he’d seriously try to skip the sessions but it only meant a different kind of pain. Without dialysis, his blood turned poisonous.
And we think that’s what killed him in March. When his body could no longer endure dialysis. His body just gave up. We knew it was going to happen at one point. But we were told dialysis patients could live up to 10 years.
Daddy’s deathbed was a negotiating table. We urged him to fight and try to be strong enough to undergo dialysis. But he tried to make us understand that he really wanted to go.
“I'm tired,” I remembered him saying. He teased us about crying and then tried to make us understand that he really wanted to go.
We debated like his life depended on the winning argument. It’s funny, come to think about it. He left us only when we, selfish ones, said it was okay. We let him go. He knew he was loved.
It’s never easy losing someone. But what made it easier was knowing we spent as much time as we could although it always seemed there wasn’t enough of it.
And that’s what I really just want to say. You should all spend as much time with your parents while you can. – Rappler.com