Saturday, August 31, 2002

Surprise call

A surprise call from Nene sent shivers down my spine. Good thing my day's tasks in the office are almost done. Otherwise I'd be too sullen to have done anything sensible. The news from Toronto about what happened in Banacud two days (or nights) ago, was not at all pleasant.

It's one of the things I'd rather not hear about. But sooner or later, I have to face the prospect of losing a father, probably to asthma. The attack was so bad that, according to Nene, Papa was virtually pleading God to take him into his arms right there and then. But Mama called the saints she knew and the souls of our departed dear ones -- including Lolo who died just last April 15 -- not to take Papa along to St Peter's arms too soon.

Last year, his heart condition had been taken care of via a triple CABG (also known as "cabbage", or coronary artery bypass graft). That cost him almost all of his retirement pay and the other savings of the family. Papa never had asthma during his drinking and the one-pack-a-day years.

A few days ago, I attended an informal presentation by a Manila-based insurance man who said that expenses rise proportionately with age while income goes downward. My father is penniless right now. He's basically living off our generosity. It won't be until four years later before he gets his first monthly pension.

Papa asked for the Lord's forgiveness for the excesses of his old life, Nene recalled Mama as saying. The man had probably 10 times more than his rightful share of alcohol during this prime years. A chain smoker for 30 years, too. How could he have stopped nicotine from clobbering all the useful air sacs in his lungs? I just pray that God will give him more time so he could see the next Dubai Shopping Festival, even if he has to take a portable nebulizer with him.

And here I am, so far away, trying to make sense of all these. There's nothing I could do but pray for him and our family. Especially Mama, who also has her own heart condition. She should be retiring soon. I should be praying more. God, forgive me too. And please change my heart, make it ever new.

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