“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.

 

 *************************************************

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.

For that one more conversation…

“Have you ever lost someone you love and wanted one more conversation,

one more chance to make up for the time when you thought they would be here forever?

If so, then you know you can go your whole life collecting days,

and none will outweigh the one you wish you had back.”

(Mitch Albom, For One More Day)

Last night, I dreamt of my parents. It was short but sweet.

After talking to my sister who was handwashing clothes outside, I was heading towards our house and there they were, my mother and my father standing at the terrace, waving at me, smiling happily. They told me to never worry about them because they are already happy where they are. I don’t know why I didn’t run to them. Instead, I ran back to my sister and excitedly told her what happened, asking, “Did you see? Did you see them?!!” She was smiling for she saw them as well, then she pointed at another direction. They told her something that I don’t remember now. I actually don’t remember anything from the dream anymore after that. But I am happy. I remember feeling happy, and I woke up happy.

It’s been a while since I saw them together in my dreams again. The first times, I was reprimanding my father for touching the cake on the table after my mother told him not to (I wanted him to stop so she wouldn’t get mad, but he didn’t so she did get mad). The next times, I saw them separately, but sometimes, I felt like just a viewer watching TV.  Most times, they didn’t say anything or smile, which always bothered me in my waking hours. Twice, I dreamt of my mother and what did I do? I reprimanded her, then woke up guilty, and worse, sorry for not spending those precious times well with her instead. I was particularly bothered by this.

Mitch Albom said it exactly. We can’t turn back the time, we can’t go back to those days when our dearly departed were still with us. “Have you ever lost someone you love and wanted one more conversation, one more chance to make up for the time when you thought they would be here forever?” That is exactly what I feel. That is why I was very glad for that dream last night, especially since it’s my mother’s birthday this Saturday. Most especially, because they smiled, at last.

I know that you already know the wise advice that while the people special to us are still here, we should be able to show them how much they mean to us. My advice is to not forget it and to stick to it. Life is really short. Let us not go through our lives wishing for days that are forever lost…

I Will Remember You

Today, September 10, is my father’s birthday. If he were still here, he would be 73. I would probably be home and he, my mother and I would be eating something special together at the dinner table. If not tonight, I would make sure to be home this weekend to spend the special day with the family.

He would have complete rein over the TV…Well, maybe not complete; it would not be realistic if we didn’t fight over it a bit . Maybe we’d playfully spar a little, too (I was his “alternative son”, anyway), or I’d kiss him so hard on the cheek that would make him cry out, or I’d tickle his belly that would send him laughing hysterically and my mother would shout at me to stop it. Of course, my sister and her family would most definitely be calling from Surigao to greet him, and he would be so happy hearing from his grandchild whom he didn’t remember most of the time but she was always in his heart.

I would be gifting him with a jacket or a baseball cap or even food that would be just specially for him. Since he became home-bound, it was not easy to think of other kinds of gifts for someone like him anymore. But you know what? He was always glad to receive and he would wear the clothes or cap as proudly as he wore jackets and caps back when he was still Sir Federizo, the P.E. teacher who taught most of the barrio kids how to play excellent volleyball and brought them to athletic meets — the glory days that seemed just years ago to him. If it’s food, he would be teasing my mother, taunting her because I gave it to him and she had none, then he would laugh his happy laugh like he pulled a funny trick on you.

If his birthday happened to be on a Saturday, for sure, we would be watching Maalaala Mo Kaya. My mother and I would wait till end credits. The theme song would start and there would be a sudden sparkle in his eyes like he remembered a lovely memory, but before he could say something, I’d blurt out without pause, “Dade, you sang that song in a choir when you were fourteen, right, because your teacher made you all sing, but you didn’t really sing and just moved your mouth and your group won second place anyway!” He would give an amused or astonished look wondering how in the world I knew, then laugh scratching his head after my telling him how. Every time we watched it in many years, he would always proudly tell the story like it was the first time.

Well I miss that. And that was why even though some probably thought it corny, it was one of the songs I requested that be played as we laid him to rest on May 27, 2012. Of course, I cried. And for a long time I refrained from watching the show. if only to avoid the song. But I miss his face, his voice, his laughter, his stories. So today, I would like to send this special gift to him, one that I know he will hear.

I love you, Dade, and I miss you, and yes, palagi kitang maaalala, narito ka sa puso ko (I will always remember you, you are here in my heart).

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DADE KONG MAKULIT

The song above was sung by Dulce and is the most-played (I think) and best (my opinion) version. Lyrics below. First in Filipino, then my English translation, although I’d rather call it interpretation because I did my own take on it a bit:

 

MAALAALA MO KAYA

Written and Composed by Constancio de Guzman

Maalaala mo kaya ang sumpa mo sa akin
Na ang pag-ibig mo ay sadyang di magmamaliw?
Kung nais mong matanto, buksan ang aking puso
At tanging larawan mo ang doo’y nakatago

“Di ka kaya magbago sa iyong pagmamahal?”
Hinding-hindi giliw ko hanggang sa libingan

O kay sarap mabuhay, lalo na’t may lambingan
Ligaya sa puso ko ay di na mapaparam

 

WOULD YOU STILL REMEMBER

Would you still remember a promise made
That your love for me would never ever fade?
Look inside my heart, should you wish to see
And you shall find only an image of you in me

“Could you possibly have a change of heart?”
No, never, my darling, till death do us part

Oh, what wonderful life, to share love so tender
My happy heart will stay with you forever

 

PLEASE TAKE NOTE: The translation above should not, in any way, be taken as an official translation. It is only a translation I made so that people will understand. However, doesn’t mean you can just copy off and not give credit or link here….Thanks for understanding.

“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)