Monday, February 25, 2013

Ready. Set. GO!

I went to my high school reunion ten years ago. What a blast from the past.

It was quite an experience as it was wonderful to see everyone again. Literally, everyone. From the school's first alumni, or at least those still living from that batch, to the very recent graduates, which would be the most populated batch. Of course!

Our Alma mater have been having these reunions every five years. I have not had the opportunity to attend all of them, but the few times I was there I was genuinely happy I took the time to attend this gathering.

Now, as the date of our next reunion approaches I find myself very excited and wishing it was already here. Having graduated High School in 1979, you would think that the memories and images which I experienced at that time would have faded with the passage of time, and yet, they seem to live with me forever. There are still people whom I remember fondly. Teachers and mentors from my youth who had a lasting effect on me.

It's been over 3 decades since I have seen or talked to some of my classmates so it’s a stretch of the imagination to visualize our group of senior men and women gathered around our assigned booth, none of us young anymore. I could see older mature people I may not recognize or visualize them as they looked the way I remember them years ago.

Reconnecting with these high school friends is nice for many reasons. Everything about high school is bigger than life. Even 35 years later, high school still remains fresh in my mind. I truly cared about my friends because together we survived the high school years. Besides, these friends were not just acquaintances, but people I really liked and cared about. Their welfare were important to me, just as mine was to them. Reconnecting with my high school friends is nice because even if it seemed like forever, the caring is still there.

Our class reunion is coming up next month. I will fly back to the Philippines to be there.

High School... when I think life will always be just like it was - fun and carefree. Where I survived the break up with what I perceived to be the true love of my life and the occasional fights with my best friends. Where I endured the homework and the tests. Where I looked forward to summer vacation, and then become anxious for school to start again in June. Where reliving those four years assured me that life was never more fun or easier than going to high school in a small town in Negros island.

High School... a time in my life where I made great memories and friendships, some which have lasted into my golden years. A period in time when growing up in Sagay was meant to be the best years of my life.

And it was.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

My father. His story.

February 8 will always be a significant date for me.

It is the day I and Ken got married, and the day my father died.

My father had been sick for a long time. He began showing symptoms years ago that was eventually diagnosed as colon cancer. A strong man, who rarely complained, my father hung on and never let on that it was as bad or as painful as we all knew it really was. As his symptoms increased, he quickly grew older right in front of my eyes, each time I went to visit him. But then I moved farther and farther away from my father, as I followed my own path into life. When I came to the US our only means of communication is through phone. But he became so frail that he cannot even stay long on the phone. Eventually it was only me talking and him listening.

When I heard the phone ring the afternoon after my wedding, I knew even before I looked at the caller ID, that it was my sister. With a shaky, breathy voice, I heard her say quietly, "Dette, he's gone." Silent tears rolled down my face. I stared out the window into our backyard full of snow, and half expected to see my dad out there, waving to me - as he passed into the next life.

When I put the phone down, there were already hot tears rolling down my cheeks. I yearned to be back home, to be with family, to be near my father's remain. But travel is out of the picture at that time as it was not conceivable.

On the day he is to be buried, I got a call from my sister asking me to write a eulogy for my father that they will read during the funeral mass. I just got home from work, and I have only an hour to write it, send it through email, and have them print it before the mass starts. My mind was running wild. Where and how do I start? My father's life is a story, a unique story that nobody ever lived before and no one will ever live again. I wish it would go on forever, but I understand that even the best stories has to end. It would be a strange story if it did go on forever. So instead of grieving that it has to end, I feel blessed and lucky enough to have been a part of it.

Memories of my dad flashed before my eyes. The father as I saw him when I was growing up and the life he lived parallel to mine. His amazing life story ultimately gave me an inspiration to write his eulogy. And like a story, I understood him better as I get closer to the end. I came to understand the significant of something that happened back in chapter 1 and 3. It was not a perfect story, as the plots were not effectively developed or structured. It wasn't meant to entertain but it has beginning, a middle and an end.

Thank you Papang for your story.

One that will continue to inspire me.

One which pages I memorized from the heart.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

A none traditional anniversary gift.

This coming Friday, my husband and I will celebrate our second wedding anniversary. I felt that we truly have a lot to celebrate with our marriage because it has become a union of two companions working towards a common goal. We see each new day together as a blessing. We are glad that we have found our soul mates.

I have never been one who needed a bunch of personal stuff to know that I am loved. I do better with simple gestures that have no monetary value. My love doesn't cost anything. My husband however like to shower me with gifts. Things that he knew I would love to have, but would not dream of buying because they are just way too expensive to a scrooge like me. He gave me two wonderful gifts this Christmas. Last month he bought me a round trip ticket to Manila so I can visit my family there.

I simply can not compete with that. Whatever little I earn from working I send to my two other boys in the Philippines to support them. Both are still in college. But I want so very much to give my husband a gift for our coming anniversary.

However, I am stumped on what to give him as gift for this occasion. I know that what I choose to give to him will be a reflection of my feelings for him and my desire to please him. This thought alone pretty much stress me out. What can I give to someone who can get anything he wants?

So okay, he love tools! But he seemed to have all the conceivable tools there is. His shop is full of it. He doesn't need a new wallet - he actually never use one. Oh yes, he is into motorcycles since he owns a Harley, but then again, he is not the leather wearing type and neither am I. He do not like modern technology gadgets. He has a laptop computer which he sparingly use. He do not like smart phones and is more comfortable with the old one he is using. I have tried buying him clothes before, but he told me to stop, because nothing I bought fits him.

But he love cars. He like driving around and I also like riding with him around the countryside. He would upgrade his car every two years. But the thing with the new models, they have everything in it - built in GPS, sync system, Wi-Fi feature, Sirius channel that streams his 60's songs. There is practically nothing more he would need for his new car!

Or is there? Maybe things that will help organize the stuff he carry with him inside the car? I have been complaining about the blinding sun rays in the passenger side, and when we shop, there ain't enough room to put our plastic bags. So, I check out and found some interesting stuff. I bought them online, and they arrived yesterday.


All I need to do now is to put them in a nice box with a nicely written card and I am ready for our anniversary day.

We haven't made a plan yet on what we will do this Friday. I have no work that day, so we could either go out to eat or I can cook a special meal for us. I know there is no wrong way to celebrate our anniversary as long as we are together and happy. Being together means a lot. I know my husband is devoted because he stays by my side. No matter what, he remains steadfast.

He does not just say he will be there. He is.

To me, that is the best present of all.


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