Showing posts with label autobiography. Show all posts
Showing posts with label autobiography. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Learning To Accept Realities and Laugh A Little More

Two months since I found out about the cancer in my body, I try to enforce a change in my lifestyle.
Nothing swiftly radical: just a change of pace, actually a slow-down in the work place, less crowds,  more quiet time, more veggies in each meal, fruits each day, Zumba even right after the once-a-week chemo treatment, and the hardest part, learning to avoid stress and trying to sleep before midnight.

A  few well-meaning friends are warmer now, sending me prayers, fruits, and positive vibes.
Some close family members call and show up more often.
My own staff  struggle to work better, to avoid causing me undue stress.
Acquaintances at my Clients' workplaces are sympathetic when they learn of my condition or 
take notice of the headband I wear to cover my baldness. 
Neighbours, even strangers I meet on the road and in the clinics and a few public places look kindly.

I feel blessed for the tireless support of my Beloved who has even become more affectionate since the cancer set in.  She patiently accompanies me in the weekly blood works and the 6-hour chemo session each week, and on top of these, has to go through what could be an ordeal of listening to  a litany of my reads, discoveries, and complaints as I cope with the mild side effects of the ongoing treatment.

The handful of well-trained nurses and caring staff under Surgeon-Onco Dr. Romeo Diaz of the Springfield Breast Care Center in SMX are like family now.  Friends and colleagues from long ago suddenly make their presence felt and friends of friends reach out with words of Faith and courage. 

I thank God for all the support, as I go through the changes in my lifestyle, and in the way I feel about the reality of a Stage 3B cancer in my body,  and the "85% recurrence rate as Stage 4" 
(a new reality that I have to put on a watch forever starting on the third month after what I am hoping will just have to be a partial mastectomy.)   

But there is One Reality I realise will never change.

I refer to them as an Odd Couple, not to mean oddness for strange, but odd for being different and totally separate from the support system described above. Before any of this life-changing experience happened,  I had felt they never really accepted me despite my many efforts to reach out in both subtle and open ways.

I struggle not to get hurt each time I am in the same place with the Odd Couple, a situation that couldn't be avoided.   For the longest time, I had been hoping to cultivate at least a  friendship,  and I had thought my new situation with a fatal disease could become an opening.

I hoped that perhaps they can become compassionate out of pity for someone who has cancer, or be gentler out of plain courtesy to an almost-elderly,  or just  kinder to someone who will live "no more than five years".

I was wrong in thinking that things between us would change once they learn of my condition.

Every day, I pray for The Miracle of Healing. Heal my body of the disease, and Heal my Soul of the hurt. This is the cross I carry each day, the One Reality  I have to learn to accept so I can laugh inside a little more.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Sun Sails

shimmers of warm light fall upon the softened crest

making tiny strides glisten with a radiance

seen only by the melancholy heart.

underneath, countless species behind ageless corals

savor the ocean's breath

while way above,

sails ride the wind with

souls in search of meaning.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Of Fertile Memories

Down with the flu on her third day in bed, Grandma muttered, “Alright, hija, you may have my antique chest drawer. It just needs a little varnish, not paint, and it will stand out among all your scrappy furniture. Take care of it… it has a huge sentimental value for me, I used to write letters to your Grandpa on its writing table whenever he was out in the seas...”

It was because of that writing tablet tucked away under its tabletop that I had been specially attracted to that antique chest piece. It was made out of the narra hardwood tree, the Philippines ’national tree, and is endemic only to Southeast Asia.

The chest had a couple of drawers, a smaller one on the upper portion, and a second larger one near the bottom. Grandma had been using the small drawer as her medicine closet. The open tabletop serve as her personal altar where the Holy Family is enshrined. Grandma would light a candle every time she prayed the daily novena, or her prayers to the Saints. (St. Jude on Thursdays, St. Francis on Tuesdays, The Immaculate Mother on Wednesdays, the Sacred Heart of Jesus on Fridays…)

Its dark reddish-deep brown color had been stained with liquefied wax and tainted with the age of time. But it was a welcome addition to my white and wood motif.

Not only was I excited to move into a new bedroom being assigned to me, a privilege upon reaching puberty, but I was enthused with having my own writing table. My very own, my very first. (No more writing homework at the dining table with the rest of the brood).

In my mind, adorning it with an antique-style writing lampshade was taking shape. I dashed out of my Grandma’s sickbed, eager to move her stuff away from the hand-me-down furniture I had really liked and had been curious about for most of my childhood life.

The writing tablet hadn’t been used in years. In one quick stroke, I swung it to upright position, freeing it from a cradle of cobwebbed memories underneath. I pulled a chair, found its level a perfect match, pulled the chair closer, grabbed a pen and paper, took a writing stance over the tablet, then I felt it. There and then, I knew I wanted to write.

Next, I emptied the upper smaller drawer, and wiped the interior clean with damp cloth. Then, I tried pulling out the lower bigger drawer. But either it was too heavy for my thin hands, or it was locked. Or both. The keyhole tarnished with rust, and there was no sign of any handle nor knob to aid me get a grip of the drawer.

Knowing for certain Grandma wouldn’t have the key to that lock, I whacked the keyhole with a screw driver, then turned the furniture upside down and used the force of my legs to push the drawer out.

Voila! Hardbound books came bursting out of the drawer. Classics, novels, world atlas volumes, biographies, self-help books that were heavily marked, soiled and worn-out appear to have escaped the ravages of time. The stench of an old world was breathing new life into my newly founded personal library, I thought.

Quickly, I gathered the books one on top of the other, organizing in my mind which of them would make it to the topmost shelf, and which would make it to my first Reading List in my now personal library.

As I stood up, with both arms in full grasp of the books, I lost my balance, and fell on the bed. Over a dozen books were strewn across the pillows by the headboard.

But there was one that hit the floor. About a couple of inches in thickness, in regular bond paper size. Red Plain Cover. Hardbound. Untitled.

I picked it up, flipped it over, looking for its title. It intrigued me to realize it had none. I leafed through the pages, yellowish and empty.

I brought myself to the beginning of the Red Book, and opened to the first pages.

It was handwritten. A list of birthdays. My father’s birthday appeared first with his name beside it. And then mine.

My grandparents’ names were on it too, and my aunts' as well.

On the second page was a journal entry dated 1962. The handwriting seemed convent-bred, the long bold strokes were ladylike, the writing tone raw and urgent. Its last lines read:

Here is a man who could accept me for what I am, and regardless of my past… Now is my chance to be happy once again, the promise of a new future in a faraway land, he offers but without my first-born…. I cannot find it in my heart to abandon my child to the care of Mamang…God help me in this my dilemma…

The words belonged to my mother. And the ‘child’ the poor child was 4 years old.

I closed the Red Book. I closed the bedroom door. I drew the curtains, also to a close.

The chapter of my Childhood must have ended that night too.

For days, I spoke to no one. And in the quiet of my sanctuary, I began to understand the ways of the world.

Rain splatters against the window and later finds its course down the drain. But the water never sinks to the bottom of the earth. It nourishes the soil to make fertile memories dissipate across the land.

By morning, the rain hadn’t stopped and the far horizon flushed a pale rainbow across the sky. I wake up to the song of the birds and the call of my dogs.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The World in 2010.

Indeed all Life is strange: complexities of Nature punctured with mysterious happenstance or fate in random places.

Listen. Mother Earth’s solid crust shuddered more than once,

tearing down an entire race of a chaste class. (Haiti)

Hear Her waters crushed onto shores without restrain,

claiming in its path the sorrows of a million lives. (Pakistan)

Watch Her roots, the Earth’s pillars, succumb to sudden fires,

causing both wild and peaceful herd to flee. (Russia )

Feel Her winds wrestled with the horizon calm,

crashing any and all that is tangled in its swirl. (New York)

Fear Her mounds spewing black ash across vast lands,

breaking the silence of the sublime. (Indonesia)

Then understand it is only either by greed or by fault:

Human error spilled the oil across the Gulf.

Chilean miners are trapped,

Allied soldiers are bombed,

Afghan Talibans are shunned.

Make sense out of the nuclear tension in Korea;

the labor unrest in Greece.

The looming jobless in the once “green pastures” of America.

When Nations fall into the new divide,

Count the Final Tally.

Then let Father Time forestall its warning.

as we wait for Mother Nature to cleanse her earth.

But yet, there are compensations, things to console with:

Rescue and aid from strangers they may be, leap across all corners of the World.

Homeless birds, though soaked to death in oil, heal in human hands to soar again.

Ocean species, while besieged by tainted currents, converge in untouched territories to breed again.

Pine trees & purple flowers, though aging & uncared for, bloom in eternity.

Races unite for many a cause,

And for many, a new consciousness arises.

Come, assemble under the changing weather

And let Mankind shift itself.

It is only in its transformation that the season bequeaths itself away.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Morning Coffee or Tea

Until recently, I'd start my day with coffee and newspaper. In fact, a national broadsheet well-respected and highly opinionated. A source of valuable information for business and trade, something I need to keep my nose in to benefit the corporate job. I'd lay out the paper on my right side of the table, scan over some 40 odd pages of national scandals in Congress & elsewhere, terror in Afghanistan, in the home front Mindanao & in the streets, and then I leaf through various sections plastered with glaring ads of overly promoted but useless consumable brands.

To the left side of the broadsheet sits a personalized mug of either Brazilian or homegrown coffee freshly brewed. I suspect its steamy aroma filters through the garden window and makes the African lovebirds sing.

It was a morning ritual, taken within my first waking hour. Whether there had been a full six hours of quality sleep or only a rough couple of hours coming from a TV editing session, coffee and newspaper became my first grind for the day.

A daily procedure to 'construct' myself, not my real self, just the part that has to go to work to get things done and finish the job without scaring the stockholders.

One has to deconstruct before it can construct, right? To deconstruct, I set aside my personal pursuits & preferences. In their stead, tasks listings and to-dos take priority. While I savor the coffee, my thoughts organize the boring details of what to do in an office crisis, who to call for inanimate decisions and how not to disrupt the power struggle.

Calm but perked-up, organized but melancholy, I am metamorphosed into the dependable workingman, an important person everyone in the hierarchy needs.

Like a caterpillar into a butterfly.
But without the wings.

And when a part is missing like something is broken, it couldn't last.
The missing part has to be rebuilt where it first belonged.

The change must happen. Soon.

And so it was at the Season's End of a TV show that a New Beginning was cracked open.

This morning, I had Irish coffee and English poetry. In the days to come, more tea and books, instead of coffee and newspapers.

I wonder about you, writers out there? How do you spend your mornings?