Friday, October 31, 2008

A Eulogy for My Dad

Come this November 12, it will have been four years since my dad died. When that date rolls around, it will have been 1, 461 days since the man of the house left our home to finally take up residence in his heavenly mansion.

How do you deal with the loss of a loved one? There are times when I just sit and stare blankly at the view outside, imagining that he is still with us. In my mind, I can even see him making a cup of coffee for my mom, or preparing to drive for me --- scenarios that have been so true for many years. But then, there are days when I just go on with my daily grind, conscious of the fact that he's no longer here and will never return.

Really, I am at a loss for words now. No one can replace dad. Through all the good and bad times, he is my dad. Nothing can change that fact.

In the spirit of honoring the dead, let me publish here the eulogy I gave in one of my dad's funeral services.

-----
A EULOGY FOR PAPA
15 November 2004

When my father died last Friday, one of the first persons I texted about what happened was my former discussion leader at Bible Study Fellowship. I relayed to her the news that my father’s 9-month battle with cancer finally ended that midnight. Her reply from the Bible in Psalm 116:15 was perhaps one of the most comforting words I’ve read, and I quote, “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.” Indeed, it is a great comfort to know that we have a God who loves us more than anybody else can ever do. He feels what we’re feeling. He understands what we’re going through. And so, when that heart monitor registered a zero heartbeat on the screen, I said a little prayer, thanking God that though we are bidding a father goodbye, He is welcoming a son back home. We left St. Luke’s Medical Center without someone who has been with all of us for 57 years, but right now I’m sure my father is in the eternal presence of God, perhaps even worshipping his Maker with his favorite song “Above All”. I watched him agonize in pain, especially in the last few months when his urinary bladder cancer spread to his pelvic area, but now he is enjoying eternal life that is free of any sorrow or pain --- an eternity so indescribable and wonderful which the Apostle Paul described in 1 Corinthians 2:9 as a place that “no eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him.”

It all began on the 23rd of February this year when we rushed him to the hospital. Soon after, it would change his lifestyle of buying his favorite cacao at Greehills (It’s the family’s favorite.); making coffee for my mother every morning (She never made coffee for herself in all of their married life together!); going to Casa Marcos, a restaurant in Quezon City to buy his favorite pan de sal (Talk about cravings!); and watching the daily 6 o’clock news. Since then, he was constantly in and out of hospitals, and became a familiar figure at CT scan and bone scan laboratories and blood banks. My vocabulary, which dwells primarily in Education since I am a teacher, soon accommodated words like metastasis, urostomy, colostomy, adeno squamous cancer cell, and so on. But through it all, our family felt God’s hand in those dark days of our lives. We rushed him once again to the hospital last June when this time, he could no longer urinate. Doctors called it perfect timing that he was put on a dialysis machine immediately, or else if that procedure was delayed for even just a few minutes, he would have died of kidney failure. I call it God’s saving grace. Sensing that God is nudging him to do what has long been overdue, my father called for all our relatives from both sides --- and humbly asked forgiveness for all that he has done against each one of them. To me, this was one of the greatest miracles that ever happened, because knowing my father, it cost him so much to humble himself, and yet he willingly did it because he knew that he would make God happy with his obedience.

More medications and an almost monthly confinement in hospitals soon followed his radical surgery last July. More complications attacked his body, as the cancer spread to his pelvic area that caused him to be in constant pain. Many times he thought it was his end already. In one of those moments that he confided to us, my father wrestled with the thought that his days are now numbered. We told him that the same is true for all of us, and that it doesn’t matter how long or short our lives are, for as long as we lived our lives for the Lord Jesus.

My father had wanted to serve God if He had allowed him to gain strength. It was his dream that He’ll share the love of God to others, especially his relatives. But God had other plans. After his operation, he could no longer walk or sit for a long time, as pain would set in. So he just lay in bed most of the time. Since he could not attend church services due to his condition, he would request us to turn on his radio and tune in to his favorite evangelists --- a habit that he gladly looked forward to every morning as soon as he awakes and every evening before sleeping. To add to the many bonuses that God has already given us, he was able to attend my brother Eric’s wedding last October 9, and though he sat for hours, he barely felt any pain. It was truly a miracle!

The last weeks of October saw him losing his appetite for food. He also became completely incapable of walking or sitting by himself. His body was riddled with so much infection to the point that most of the time he was not in his right senses anymore. However, God decided to do an amazing thing. His right senses would come back as soon as you talk with him about God’s Word. Our God is really amazing.

The morning before he died, a pastor came by his bedside at the ICU and said a prayer with him. When Pastor Ong asked my father how he is feeling, my father replied that he is now ready to go. Yes, cancer is a dreaded disease, but now I realize that it is also a blessing from God. Few people are given the privilege to get themselves ready for their deaths, and my father is one of them. He had nine months to prepare himself to finally meet God.

I have always included in my prayers a request for the Lord to extend my father’s life, especially in moments when I most feel that he was about to be taken away from us. But now I understand that He has better plans than those that men can ever conceive. When doctors informed me that in 24 hours my father might pass away, I immediately called school and informed them I’m not coming that day. I prayed to the Lord for two things: one, that my father died painlessly, and two, that we would all be there when he passes away. God graciously granted both requests. At around 5 pm of November 12, nurses and doctors were conducting tests on him, but he was no longer responding. He could no longer feel anything. And when that heart monitor finally registered a zero heartbeat, we were all there surrounding his bed. He died peacefully, as if he were only sleeping, for in God’s sovereign wisdom, my father was already in a semi-comatose state the afternoon before he died.

How does it feel to lose a loved one? Of course, we would miss him. There’ll be no one to accompany my mother to the grocery every Sunday. No one to buy pan de sal or cacao. No one to crack those sometimes corny jokes. No one to give me away on the day of my wedding (haha!!!). No one to cry my heart to and share stories with. No one to call Papa. At times I feel sad that he will no longer see Diego and Franco, his twin grandsons, grow up. When he was still alive, his face would light up as we tell him stories of his grandson’s antics. He would have loved to play with them if not for his condition. But I am comforted with one truth I learned from the Bible --- that in heaven, Jesus would wipe away all our tears and sorrows. As he lay dying in his bed that night, I held his hand and whispered to his ear, “Papa, I’ll see you later.”

We praise God for He has mercifully ended my father’s suffering last November 12, but we praise Him even more because his death ushered him to the eternal life he had by faith in his only Savior, Jesus Christ. My father wasn’t fond of attending parties when he was still alive, but there is one party I'm sure he won't and can't miss ---- that one big reunion in heaven because he just went ahead of us all.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

(Soon to be) bachelorette no more


No, no. It's not me. I'm referring to Len, our high school buddy who's getting married to the love of her life two weeks from now on November 9, 2008. Check out the pics.
Sayang, Ria, at wala ka.

Anyway, best wishes again to Rolyn. In fourteen days' time, you'll be bachelorette no more. :)

[Click on the image to view it in its original size.]

After a game of Taboo - Aye, Sarah, Len, Sheila, Katie, moi and Brenda.
This one's taken at the suite's living room. Check out the decor behind the girls. Neat, no?

Girl bonding - (Preggy) Sarah, Len, moi, Aye, She and Katie at the bedroom.
Super ginaw ng aircon!

Three's a company: moi, Sheila and fellow blogger Katie

The girls love Japanese: Posing while waiting for Kitaro's sushi - Katie, Len, Aye, Sheila and moi

My! Ang bilis ng panahon, grabe! :)

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Dhabong heart Len

We knew this was going to happen. Yes, way back in our high school days. We even had a "bet" who will the first to marry, and unanimously we said it was going to be our friend Len, who at that time, was already being hotly pursued by her "kainisan at first sight", Dhabong.

It's going to be Len's bridal shower tonight, and in two weeks' time, she' going to be Mrs. Henri S. Fernandez. Yey!

Best wishes, Len. We hope you'll have a lasting and godly union!

*****
Check out Dhabong and Len's wedding website here. It's amazing what technology can do!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Reflecting on my eale's disease

If you had asked me what I would have wanted to do with my life five years ago, I would have rattled off a thousand and one things I have mapped out for myself ever since I was little, such as:

Write a book. Travel. Sketch, draw and color to my heart's delight. Spend some days baby-sitting my nephews (and niece). Enroll in a cooking class. Volunteer the whole day at church. Build and run my own school. Start up another business. Work for an entirely different field. Join a short-term mission trip. Finish a Doctorate. And so on and so forth.

The list isn't really long, and I know that there are both mundane and profound, and individualistic and familial reasons behind each entry in my list. But all that don't matter that much to me now.

I read from Jeremiah 10:23 that I know, O LORD, that a man's way is not in himself, nor is it in a man who walks to direct his steps. No one really knows the future, except God. While we really ought to prepare for our future, no one can truly predict it. The Living Bible translation of the same verse says: It is not within the power of man to map out his life and plan his course.

Just one verse --- but it's something that really puts things in perspective.

These days, it takes just a simple activity to remind me of what this verse says. All I need to do is pick up a novel and try to finish it in one sitting --- and feel the paralyzing pain in my eyes' nerves that tell me I'm not supposed to strain them. When you've got eale's disease, finishing a paperback in months is already an achievement, and it isn't an exaggeration to say that I now can not jump or run, or else I run the risk of losing my precious eyesight. Suddenly, there seems to be a long list of things I can no longer do because of this condition, and many of those things were listed in my life plans.

Is this adios to all the dreams I had drawn out before? Maybe. I don't know.  So now, I settle with a simple YES or a NO. If it's the Lord's will, then I'll go for it. If the Lord tells me no, then I won't push the issue.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

sporadic spurts and the whole US economic hullaballoo

Yes, she sporadically updates her blog. But she makes a fine journalist.

Thanks to Katie for her blog award for me. Please do visit her website at http://katecancio.blogspot.com/.

How's that for a plug? :0p

*****
Okay, I admit I can be an apolitical mademoiselle at times. Sure, I love to hear and sometimes participate in discussions on Philippine politics and tradpols, especially when it's my brother-in-law giving me a rundown of the latest on the who's who here in RP. But I don't know. I'm just not that interested in analyzing the pros and cons of electing so and so, and forging alliances with such and such party. So, being the apolitical that I am, I rarely catch the newscast at night (as I'd rather listen to Ed Lapiz around the same time the news is being broadcast).

And so I was probably one of the last to react about this whole US economic thing. Everyone's talking about it in the office, except clueless me who'd rather plug in my earphones and bury my head in the pile of paperwork on my desk. Lehman Brothers, AIG, Merrill Lynch ---- I seriously thought they're a new bunch of singers out to take over the Billboard 100. My, I don't even know a thing about Wall Street, Fannie Mae, or Freddie Mac. I supposedly did well in my high school and college Econ classes, but these days I can't even remember how mortgage works, much more give the repercussions of going through a federal bailout. All these Econ mumbo jumbo I hear from officemates and read about in the papers suddenly sound like Russian to my ears. I get a headache out of trying to get my mom, sister or eldest brother explain to me the implications of the recent economic hullaballoo in the USA (and they're too impatient to explain the details to me too! hehehe).
Sigh.

Then it dawned on me yesterday.

Given all that's happening now, is this good bye to my dreams of going to America?  :-(

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Talk about self-control.

At least, when it comes to food.

Last week, I was proudly "promoting" this cleansing diet I got from my Sunday School family to my officemates. Being equally concerned about health and wellness as I am, Ms. Lyn and Ms. Cris immediately said yes, they were very much willing to give it a try. After all, it's just a simple routine: eat and drink all the apples you can for five days; plus on the fifth day, drink olive oil too (yes, I know that's yucky). If you can live on apples on all five days, that's great; but if not, one meal is okay, then just eat apples for the remainder of the day. By the end of the regimen, you would have expelled all the gall and kidney stones stuck inside your body over the years out of gorging on kare-kare, bagoong, isaw, and other salty dishes. Piece of cake, isn't it?

I think not.

On our first day, we were ready for battle. We each had a big, red Fuji apple in our lunch bags. I skipped breakfast as I am not really a breakfast person, but I ate my viand for lunch, minus the rice. Then I snacked on my apple. Ms. Lyn and Ms. Cris did the opposite: they ate a hearty breakfast, then munched on those red delights for the entire day.

By our second day, we were already complaining silently. I was getting bleary-eyed and a bit dizzy trying to ward off my coffee cravings all afternoon. Iced tea was great, but I felt guilty afterwards as it contained preservatives. Ms. Cris offered me papaya, and I gladly sampled her baon. Ms. Lyn brought out an apple, and ate slowly so as not to feel any need to get up, go to the canteen, and buy something else.

When day three came, I wasn't prepared for temptation. I made the huge mistake of lingering too long in the canteen. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a bar of chocolate, bought it, and happily stashed away my "cheat treat" which I planned to eat when no one's looking. Unfortunately, Ms. Cris saw me and so, good bye to my Safari bar for now.

Week end was a total disaster. Ms. Lyn had just transferred to her new home, and so with the house warming comes a simple salo-salo consisting of barbeque, wine and yes, you guessed it right: other salty food. Mine was even worse. Kuya treated me with this super delectable burger from Burger King on a Saturday midnight. Then on Sunday after worship, I happily chomped on my afternoon cholesterol: roast beef, laing and mixed veggies. With white rice at that. By Sunday evening, I almost cried in defeat trying to say no to a slice of S'mores cake from Red Ribbon. Yes, shame on me. I gave in.

When Monday rolled, we were all making fun of each other and trying not to "fine" one another for all the violations we committed. Before getting into this diet, we three even "signed" this contract that we were supposed to strictly follow the five-day cleansing diet plan, capped with a "weigh-in" at the clinic to really check if we would lose some pounds (and hopefully, inches) in the process.

Guess what? I lost nary a kilogram. So did my officemates.

As the first day of this week passed us by, we were already smiling "knowing looks" at each other, especially when during the meeting, our boss gave out palabok for merienda. This afternoon, during the academic exhibit inauguration, we were trying to pretend we didn't see the other eating pan de coco and juice generously being served during the short program.

Tsk. Tsk. Tsk.

Self-control can go hang sometimes :0)

Sunday, October 5, 2008

sweat glands and gym trips

I'm totally missing it. Going to the gym, I mean.

Before doctors found out I have eale's disease, I was a constant presence in the gym. I knew the names of all the trainers, and even their schedules. I knew which workout routines work best with my target program, and which ones do not. I knew what type of music plays at a certain hour, and what specific time the gym is overcrowded. I knew all the machines there waiting to be used by gym rats and afficionados. I knew every name of every muscle, and which types of workout to bring out the best from them. I knew every stretching technique there is. I knew every single relevant bodybuilder you have in the books. I knew every bodybuilding and fitness event there is on the planet. And the list goes on and on...

My, I could even be a fitness instructor! Having gym buffs for brothers and a brother-in-law and a sister who are also fitness-conscious also helped a lot to instill in me my instant liking to the gym, the smell of steel, and the feel of iron bars in my hand.

Sadly, I can no longer do heavy workouts. No more running, no more jumping, no more high impact exercises for me. :0( In short, I have to say adios to the old gym life I used to lead. Otherwise, I run the risk of losing my eyesight and going blind.

But at least I have one consolation: no more weirdo looking at me lustfully while I'm doing my squats.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The boxing oblivious


Ah, they're talking about it everywhere. In the faculty rooms. In the ladies' room. In the guardhouse. In the clinic. Even in the garden.

The much-awaited Dela Hoya-Pacquiao fight, that is.

Up to now, I just can't get it why people find so much pleasure watching two gladiators get in the ring and try to be the first to get his hands on the other, and just basically knock the wits out of the other party. I cringe whenever I see blood oozing out of someone's head. I gasp whenever I catch a match-up and witness how a boxer tumbles and collapses. And certainly, it isn't such a nice sight to see Tyson bite off Holyfield's ear, and grin with satisfaction for doing so. To this day, I simply can't figure out how some people can call manhandling someone a source of living. I don't understand why some very goodlooking guys just agree to get their handsome faces punched and all bruised up. How can they bear to train for several gruelling months, only to be pummeled for twelve rounds? Why risk being blind for life in exchange for a few million dollars?

Unbelievable.

But anyhow, I am rooting for the Golden Boy. This time around, I don't think Manny stands a good chance.

And if I don't get to understand what's going on with the fight?

Maybe the boxing oblivious will just content herself with looking at Oscar Dela Hoya's pics...

Pogi e :op