“What was the strangest thing you found cleaning out your parents’ house after they died?” (post-)#AskWednesday

Until I read Debbie The Doglady’s post, I could have forgotten this. I had planned on posting this sometime ago but never had the right time or chance to do so. I did think of sharing it for Valentine’s, but I also felt it would have been kind of a sad reminder for some who are still grieving for our parents, so I didn’t.

I was doing some legit research one day, I don’t remember what about, but as most researches went, I stumbled on something else. I found this question posted on Quora:

“What was the strangest thing you found cleaning out your parents’ house after they died?”

My parents on New Year's Eve 2011

My parents on New Year’s Eve 2011

I could have answered, but I wasn’t planning on joining Quora. Also, I didn’t think I had any answer to that. I still don’t.

My father had a mild stroke when I was 20 and since then, he was unable to go to work, work being a teacher in elementary Math, Physical Education, and Gardening & Shop (I have no idea what those subjects were called then exactly and I think they have new names now). So maybe, whatever secrets he could have hidden, if there were any at all, my mother had long ago gotten rid of them. I know of one I found when I was young, but that doesn’t count because he was still so alive back then. So when he died in May 2012, I didn’t find any strange thing that belonged to him.

Meanwhile, my mother, who was a Geometry and Trigonometry teacher, had nothing physical to hide either, not to my knowledge, nothing strange that I found, at least. There were several secrets about her personal experiences that I found out after she died in July 2012, some things she did not tell me because she knew I would get mad that she let people do that to her, but they were nothing near strange.

I think the reason that I still haven’t found anything “strange”, surprising or shocking is because I have lived in our family’s house all my life (well, except when I was/am gone the whole week working). Non-Filipinos may go, “What???” and think “Adult and still living in her parent’s house?” Let me tell you now that Filipinos are family-oriented and living with one’s parents doesn’t necessarily make him/her dependent and useless. It is common in our culture, especially the extended family culture…

My parents were teachers and most things that I find that belonged to them are clothes, personal effects that I mostly knew anyway, various school-related stuff like books for lesson plans, IDs, lovely notes from students (especially for my mother, whose hoarding tendencies I happen to have inherited). I’m just thinking maybe I’m better off not knowing anything in case it happens to be something I’ll regret finding out.

Now that I have answered the question, I am sharing to you some of the worthy answers I found on Quora. I’d rather share the nice ones because I’d rather that we remember our parents fondly. Click on them to get to the actual pages if you want to.

quora1Click on the image so you get to be redirected to the link he gave and see what he’s talking about.

quora3This is something that I would have liked to have found. I wish I could learn more about my parents, their experiences, their thoughts, their worries, their dreams…This only emphasizes how important it is to not wait and get to know your parents more while they’re still alive, because time will come that they won’t be able to tell you anything anymore. Except for their lesson plans, my parents did not seem to have inclinations towards creative writing, which is most probably why there are no journals for me to visit in the first place.

quora4Again, one of the things I regret is emphasized here. I regret to not having video-recorded my parents (I tried, but my low-tech phone wasn’t much help,…I could have found a way and borrowed, but didn’t. Sadly.). I did not even record their voices! Now all my sister and I have of them are like the Jim Croce song: ‘Photographs and Memories’. It would have been better to see and hear them alive and talking and laughing once in a while when we’re missing them…

quora5Finding such bills would have been awesome, I gotta admit 🙂 Anyway, my father had quite a sense of humor, too, which I would not have known had he not gotten sick. It seemed he went back to his former and younger self and in the next years of his life, I got to know more of how he was as a younger man. I’m sure he was like that to his friends before the mild stroke, but at home, he was stricter. So the “change” was somehow drastic.

quora2Alright, I couldn’t help it. This one’s kind of sad in the end. Still, the mother thought of buying gifts for her children…

quora6

Make sure you click on this to see the whole of it…This reminds me of my parents, especially my mother whom her students adored. I found similar letters and cards given to her, but I really was not surprised. I had known since I was little that she was getting such expressions of appreciation from her beloved students.

 

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I hope you liked what I shared.  How about you, “What was the strangest thing you found cleaning out your parents’ house after they died?” Again, the comments section is for your perusal 🙂

**NOTE: I thought I’d add this since I mentioned the song. It has always made me sad even before losing my parents, but now it means so much more to me. I actually just teared up having listened to it. It’s a lover’s love song, but it can very well be a song for a loved one who has gone on before you.

Death, Denial, Depression #atozchallenge2015

D of A to Z“D” is for DEATH. We all know death, but it’s still a big word, considering that grief causes two other Ds, DENIAL and DEPRESSION.

I wish I could write about something else, something lighter, like dancing, which I really considered but my tablet is making it harder to post vids and I don’t have much patience right now, or dogs except I don’t have nice pictures to share of past canine pets. Instead, “death” kept insisting itself on my mind. No, I didn’t want to write about it. I wanted to write something much more fun or something lighter like last year. But here I am. This is much more raw than my “A” post.

Those who have followed me enough times are aware of what I went through these past three years. At first, I refrained from discussing much about death in the family, then I realized I could not get away from it — I had to give in sometime. What better way to do that than to pay tribute to my parents?

I tell you, it was not easy watching your loved ones deteriorate everyday. It was not easy doing the best you could, swallowing pride to ask friends and others for any amount they could share, sacrificing your job, and taking care of your parents while wondering if you’d still have a job to go back to after…Yes, after, because despite everything I did, at the back of my mind, I knew with a certain dread that the end was near for both of them.

When all of these were going on, I hardly wept. At rare times, I just felt a lump on my throat, cleared it, shook my head and continued with my–our–day. I wanted to keep emotionally strong and to always have a clear head for you would never know when a decision had to be made. There were many, in fact. Together with some relatives, I had to rush my mother to the hospital monthly, without fail, until July, which we all thought we would finally skip and it turned out to be her last month on earth.

All the while, I had a clear head. I could not let myself feel down for so long. While I communicated with my sister regularly, she was still miles and seas away; any immediate decision had to be made by myself and I could not afford to make the wrong one. Could it be called strength? I don’t know. It would be very presumptuous and self-serving of me to say it was. All I am sure of is this seems to be the way I react when faced with circumstances that call for me to have a sense of responsibility.

I could’ve cried when my father had the stroke when I was 20, but I didn’t, not in front of my mother anyway. How could I when I saw her break down in their room and right away, I had to hold her and reassure her that things would be fine? Somebody had to be strong for us during those times and I was the nearest family member to do that. I only cried when he was first diagnosed as having suffered a stroke, but that was when I was alone at home and they were in the hospital. It was also very short-lived — I had just started weeping when my cousin called out to me from outside, saw my eyes and basically berated me for being a wimp as she saw that as a lack of support for my mother. I did not have the energy to argue that crying was normal, even a healthy reaction. After that, I don’t remember a time that I cried about it ever again.

facing-griefI guess this coping mechanism was something that got developed in me. “Surreal” is the only way I can describe the feeling. It’s like being sad, worried and alert all at the same time. When my father was pronounced dead, I already knew even before the E.R. doctor could tell us. My friend who stayed with me would later tell another friend how brave I was. Brave? Not sure about that,  just that when another cousin and I were already alone with my father’s lifeless body, I surprised myself when I bawled out, kissing his face, saying sorry for everything bad I had done, especially for getting mad two evenings prior.

Months after losing my parents, I still did not really cry save from the actual funerals. I could have gone through the Denial phase of grieving, for all I knew. I did know that I got to the Anger phase the next year. Being angry at one’s self could be quite debilitating itself. I do believe I suffered from Depression.

Recently, I lost my baby. S/he was just more or less two months in the womb. Can you imagine feeling elated after finding out you’re having a baby, then learning after a week that s/he doesn’t seem to have a heartbeat anymore? Can you imagine the additional stress of waiting after another week to check if the findings are the same and then they are? Now imagine going for a second opinion, getting yet another ultrasound test and still, no heartbeat…

Definitely, I cried several times to my husband over the course of waiting. On that third test, I had no time to really cry. Then again, I was with one of my bestfriends and I decided I was not going to cry until I was alone. That did not happen, though, for once I was alone after two hours, I was bleeding and had myself brought to the hospital. I did not cry either during the whole thing and sang “Defying Gravity” to calm myself. I did not let myself cry for hours while I was at the recovery room. When I requested that my husband be let in for a few minutes for I needed to tell him something, however, I was again surprised by the sudden surge of emotions as I waited. I saw him and then the tears went and rolled down, upsetting and worrying him…

Honestly, I don’t know how to properly end this piece. I guess I just needed to share. So forgive me for the long post and for posting a day late (at least where I am) because I just had to sort my thoughts out and kept typing them down. This is one of the most vulnerable times in the history of my whole blogging experience…

Get it Out of My System

After last week’s post, I wanted to post something nice and joyful again. But silly me, I just had to watch videos that made me cry and now, I just have to get it out of my system.

This actually started the other day when I posted this on Facebook:

The song made me cry years ago. This has made me cry now for a whole new different reason.

So tonight, I got it in my head to check out similar vids linked to it. You can say that I asked for it. I found this other touching vid:

And I didn’t stop there. I watched others more. Then I thought that it’s very unfair that when it comes to weddings, to brides in particular, it seems like only the dad gets affected. So I searched for videos looking for a mom version, so to speak. So feeling like a real emotional masochist, I watched this and almost bawled out in public:

It didn’t “help” that that’s also a fave song of mine (people give it different titles but in the singer’s official site, it’s called “Over the Rainbow”). This is the story behind the dance: Mother’s Last Dance.

In a way, I know I’m being silly doing this but I guess that’s me being human…

Okay, I took a break and decided to watch some fun ones, so I leave these ones here to make us all smile 🙂

There are more on YouTube if you’d like to watch more.

Thanks for letting me get this out of my system, my friends.

“SERVING MY HERO” #atozchallenge2014

This is my first post for the A to Z Challenge, and my 100th WordPress post, yipee!!! This is actually a scheduled post, just like most of my next posts. Pretty busy so I’ll try to squeeze in my posts whenever I can. I’ll try to schedule several posts in one go so I won’t always have to worry about what’s next, he he…

a-to-z-challenge

For the first letter, I wanted to write about Ako, which is Filipino (Tagalog) for I, Me, even Myself at times, depending on how the sentences are formed. Why not? Maybe it’s a good way to introduce myself. However, I found that I could not decide which stuff about myself to write about. Besides, a lot of the stuff I am going to write for some other days will also be related to myself, anyway.

Then I realized this is a good time to share again something that I shared before, pre-WordPress. This is about me, and more of my father, written long before he departed. I initially wanted to share this as a tribute almost two years ago, but I was afraid that some people would take offense that I hadn’t posted anything about my mother as well, since she also passed away, two months after him. I didn’t want the additional pressure adding to my grief. The truth was, as said, this was written long before 2012, because something inspired me to write it, and not because I loved my mother less. When they passed away, I wanted to write a tribute for both but couldn’t find the courage to write anything, so I just posted videos of songs to convey my feelings. I just couldn’t get myself to do it, and I still can’t.

So now, I’ll share this and whatever anyone thinks, I’ll let them think. I thought that to talk about myself, it would be interesting to write about when I was born. It just so happens that this article already exists. And by the way, in keeping with the challenge, the word Ama is Filipino for Father.

I WILL write more about my parents, but please, not today.

SERVING MY HERO

 

father-and-i

This is the one of myself and our “Dade.” At our back is the jeep I am referring to. Sorry the photo’s blurred. All of my baby pics are *sigh*

My oldest memory dates way back when I was just a year old. Many people do not remember things at this age so perhaps, you don’t believe me. But I do remember – and I remember a lot – and am sure of it. I have a picture to prove it, in fact. At least, to myself. Old and sepia-colored, that picture is still very dear to my heart.

If you look at it, you will see that my father — dark, smiling, curly-haired — is carrying a baby girl, Me. At the back is what we call an “owner-type jeep,” a modified version of the kind American soldiers brought to our country in the 1940’s, although this was way beyond that era. I distinctly remember staring at the hood, fascinated by it as someone carried me. It was either before or after the picture was taken. For sure, it was taken on my birthday. That, I don’t remember myself, but that’s what the date written on the back tells me.

Thinking about it now, I am glad my oldest memory was with my father. Not that I would have minded if it was my mother, though. For anyone of them to be in that particular memory is already meaningful to me. I love them and they love me. We were far from being the perfect family, and we still are not any closer to that, but I am thankful that I was raised well…Hopefully well, at least.

my-cute-dade

I love his smile here, so real and even innocent. This was post-stroke. This was the guy I grew up with half of my life, the one that I really, really miss. I love that he’s waving, like saying, “Don’t worry, I’m fine and happy here now, too.”

Now, I am helping raise my father. In a sort of way. A mild stroke made sure things would change. A stroke would not be called a “traitor” for nothing. Who would’ve thought? He smoked and had pot belly, but otherwise, we thought he was fit. Until we were all betrayed. Funny how things could literally change overnight. We were laughing the night before, the two of us, sharing the funny moment together, and the next morning, I met the eyes of an almost complete stranger. He was a stranger even to himself. For him, everything was a blur.

These days, he is much better remembering many things of the past, yet still forgetting many. He is not so much a stranger, anymore, except that he isn’t the father I once knew. Though parts of his long-term memory are either gone or simply forgotten, it is his short-term memory that has been badly affected. He will do something now that he will not remember ten, fifteen minutes later. If you mention it to him, he will deny it and he believes what he thinks he remembers. It is like an Alzheimer’s disease that is not debilitating, or an amnesia that isn’t really, know what I mean? In a sense, he was still lucky ten years ago, compared to people who suffered the same fate.

I certainly know I’m not the best daughter in the world. I am reminded of it everyday, that I usually suck at it.

Often, we argue because he doesn’t listen like a good kid should. Which is the problem, because he isn’t one. We know that (even if his maturity now is probably equal to that of a fifteen-year-old’s). He knows that, too. Therefore, he could be quite stubborn, rebellious, grumpy, unreasonable and uncooperative. Especially with me for he is aware of what I am supposed to be: his daughter, not his mother or big sister. Most times, he tests our patience. Many times, we fail. Many times, I fail.

my-father

This was him before the stroke. It’s one of the pics taken when he was a teacher. I haven’t gotten around to having it “fixed” yet. The perfect copy wasn’t returned to me by the people I lent it to. I love this pic!

Yet, whenever I remember the beginning of my life’s story, I resolve to be a better daughter. He deserves it, after all.

I was born weighing only three pounds. I was tiny, looked ghastly, and practically on the brink of death. The right technology, at that time, was not imediately available to save me. There was hope, however, and my father was determined not to let me die. In Manila, technology was better and more accessible, and so, he decided to have me transferred from the province.

You would have thought the idea would be met with complete approval. But no. For some reason, one particular person practically told him not to bother. This, from a very close relative, one you would not have thought would say something like that. For her, I was a lost cause, an expensive one at that. So why bother?

But my father stood his ground and snapped at her. “And why not? She’s still breathing, isn’t she?!!!”…So now, you can very well guess who won the argument.

I think I really owe my life to my father. It was his decision, after all. At that time, my mother was also sick, very weak, vulnerable, confused. Probably, she wasn’t even aware of my father’s plans. After all, I wasn’t shown to her until much later. If it weren’t for my father, I wouldn’t be here sharing this story with you. He had the courage and the smarts to fight for my life.

And so, here we are. Here I am, helping raise my dad. Not an easy feat, no, but it’s the least I can do. It’s not all hard, though. We basically get along fine watching TV or movies, trading jokes and playing pranks, exchanging banters, and sparring (our own style of playful boxing which I always win by tickling him until he collapses laughing on the couch).

Yep. It’s an honor serving my hero.

mother-and-father

One of their last pics together, taken New Year 2011

 

mom-and-dad

Another one of their last pics. I’m glad my mother did this. Couples may fight, but it doesn’t mean they love one another less. I guess that’s why she followed him as soon as she could…LOVE YOU BOTH.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All Copyrights ©  J.Gi Federizo

(excluding A to Z Challenge badge)

For YOU Who Were Most Special

It’s the love month and I decided to write about stuff that I love or has to do with love for the whole month. So I had an idea and was looking for an audio from my computer archive. For some reason, it wasn’t working the way it used to. I also came to this page because I was going to check how I was able to post videos before. Then I realized that this should be my first post in relation to Valentine’s. I had decided on a theme last week: love in various forms. Now I realize this is exactly the correct way to start.

It’s a reblog, but I still want to pay tribute to my parents who loved me and my sister. I still cannot believe that it’s almost two years. I still remember them like they’re in front of me. But I am happy in the sense that they do not anymore have to suffer and that, even through the hardships we are facing in this world, they are guiding us. Maybe some people who know them and would be able to read this would just mock this tribute, but we cannot do anything about that. We cannot change people. We can only change ourselves…

To Mame and Dade, Happy Valentine’s!!!

We love you!!!!

The End Justifies the Journey

It would have been a given if I wrote about them already. As a writer, it would have been natural, normal, and expected that as a form of tribute, I shared my feelings or thoughts then, maybe my feelings or thoughts now, or maybe talked about how they had been as parents. That had been my intention for weeks, trying to find the right way, the right words so that I could give them the best tribute I could.

But very honestly, losing my parents recently — one followed the other after only a span of two months — writing such a great tribute would be something of a feat for me as of the moment. Not because they don’t deserve it but because I might never finish writing with the tears clouding my eyes. Grief does that to people. Yes, I know the Five Stages of Grief, and yes…

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For YOU Who Were Most Special

It would have been a given if I wrote about them already. As a writer, it would have been natural, normal, and expected that as a form of tribute, I shared my feelings or thoughts then, maybe my feelings or thoughts now, or maybe talked about how they had been as parents. That had been my intention for weeks, trying to find the right way, the right words so that I could give them the best tribute I could.

But very honestly, losing my parents recently — one followed the other after only a span of two months — writing such a great tribute would be something of a feat for me as of the moment. Not because they don’t deserve it but because I might never finish writing with the tears clouding my eyes. Grief does that to people. Yes, I know the Five Stages of Grief, and yes, I did more research on them, and yes, regardless of the surprisingly strong person I seemed to friends, it still does hurt me till now. I’ve asked once when people’s  feelings of grief go away and others who have been there provided the answer: THEY DON’T, NOT REALLY. But what we do is move on. Not really forget, just move on. In a way, to not forget also offers some kind of relief. Loved ones are too special to forget.

Going back to writing, I think I have found the best way to pay tribute to these two noble teachers with this short piece I wrote years ago. It is funny in a sad way that most often, we only learn to appreciate, understand and get to know our loved ones more when they are gone…

WE LOVE YOU, MAME AND DADE

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The man without a purpose is like a ship without a rudder –

a waif, a nothing, a no man.”

(Thomas Carlyle)

            Many of us go through life wading in the water, creating only the smallest of ripples, afraid to go even farther and deeper lest we drown. We are so much afraid of taking risks only to find ourselves failing. Therefore, we are contented just being safe – too safe – that we do not leave our comfort zones to find and explore what it is that God has laid out for us. We are men without direction, without purpose, without living. We simply exist.

            Fortunately, there are still a few good men (and women) among us who dare to defy the norm. More fortunately, there are those who dare to do more than defy the norm. They change the world for the better, living not only for themselves but for others as well.

            Truly, heroes are those who first think with their hearts. They are made for a mission after all and that is to save lives. Rick Warren’s (The Purpose Driven Life) words seem to reflect what their purpose in this world is all along: “It’s not about you. The purpose of your life is far greater than your own personal fulfillment, your peace of mind, or even your happiness.”

            So what sets a man above the rest? Instead of ripples, he creates the waves that get him to his destination. For all of it is heart. You see, it’s the heart that makes the man.

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A few videos from YouTube, especially for those who lost their parents as well (the last is in Filipino / Tagalog and shows no lyrics so I am sharing an English translation I made years ago as well):

The song Ugoy ng Duyan, literally translated to “the swaying of the hammock”, was composed by Lucio San Pedro and the lyrics were by Levi Celerio. Versions have already been recorded in the past by Lea Salonga, Regine Velasquez and Aiza Seguerra.

LULLING CRADLE

Those good old days, I pray won’t fade
When I was young and in Mother’s care
Oh, to hear dear Mother’s lullaby again
The song of love as she rocked my cradle.

In my deep and peaceful slumber
The stars watch over me in vigil
Life was like heaven in the arms of Mother
Now my heart longs for the lulling cradle.

Those good old days, I pray won’t fade
When I was young and in Mother’s care
Oh, to hear dear Mother’s lullaby again
The song of love as she rocked my cradle.

Lull me, Mother, in my dear old cradle
Oh, Mother.

 

Translation Copyright © J.Gi Federizo

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DISCLAIMER: The translation above should not, in any way, be taken as an official translation. It is only a translation I made so that people would understand the lyrics. However, please do not just copy off and not give credit or link here. Also, I am mentioning this as I am finding out that my version has been copied and being mistaken as the official translation. It is not and is probably not even the best translation. To not confuse you, I used to own a Multiply account using the ID “lildovefeather”. Many of those who shared this translation do give a link to the page, but the problem now is it’s not existent anymore. They can either link to this page, or to THIS…Thanks for understanding.