The party is over. No more fun times until next year. My sister left to return to her home, children and grandchildren in Atlanta and make ready for the holidays. She will arrive there two days before Thanksgiving, rest up a bit, and then get busy with wrapping paper and ribbons for her Christmas gifts.
As always, she loved it here. Deep inside, no matter how long she has lived in Georgia, I believe Manila remains in her heart and is still her home.
It was a wonderful season for both of us. There is nothing better than spending time with your sister and, like when you were little girls, go everywhere and do everything together. We laughed at old jokes, relived the good times, and tried to forget the times that were not. In one of her many shopping expeditions (I lost track of the countless bazaars she hit), she found her favorite T-shirt. It says: “I am retired. Now leave me alone.”
We remembered our parents and imagined we saw them in the faces and smiles of our children. We bonded with old friends. We ate. Show me a balikbayan who does not crave bibingka, taho, ginataan and all those native goodies.
We faithfully followed our Spanish telenovelas online, downloading episodes even until the wee hours. My daughter once walked in on us as we watched, enthralled, a tender love scene with the gorgeous William Levy. I wonder what she was thinking. Oh well.
There was only one damper in the three-month visit. We missed our usual jaunt to Australia. She caught a flu bug and we postponed. I got it shortly after, and we canceled. At our ages, we figured it was the prudent thing to do.
My sister and I shared my bed. I have a king. There’s more than enough room. Friends are surprised to hear that. Why, haven’t you ever slept with a sibling?
I remember we both shared a banig even with cousins and slept on the floor under a mosquito net during the war. We would set it up anywhere in the house. My favorite spot was beside an open lower transom under a window. It was so much cooler.
No, my dear grandchildren, we had no air-conditioning at the time. Only the classy movie houses had that luxury. We watched double features and second runs in Cine Moderno on Calle Legarda, refreshed only by huge noisy fans that looked and sounded like airplane propellers.
Anyway, just like in the old days, bedtime with my sister meant a recap of the day, a running commentary on the stories we heard, people we saw who talked only about aches, pains and wrinkles. We laughed a lot. Once in a while we shared low moments, but only a few. And, yes, there were tears.
That is what remembering does to you. “Tears are God’s gift to us, our holy water. They heal us as they flow.” (Rita Schiano)
A lot of the stuff on the Internet ends up in my trash bin. When the source is unknown to me, I simply delete. But I must admit, there are some gems.
One such came to my attention several years ago. It was one of those “I wish I had written this” moments for me. I don’t know who wrote it, but here are some highlights from a remarkably different type of obituary published in the London Times.
“Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, Common Sense, who has been with us for many years. No one knows for sure how old he was since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape. He will be remembered as having cultivated such valuable lessons as:
– Knowing when to come in out of the rain;
– Why the early bird gets the worm;
– Life isn’t always fair; and
– Maybe it was my fault.
“Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (don’t spend more than you can earn) and reliable strategies (adults, not children, are in charge).
“His health began to deteriorate rapidly when well-intentioned but overbearing regulations were set in place. Reports of a 6-year-old boy charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate; teens suspended from school for using mouthwash after lunch; and a teacher fired for reprimanding an unruly student made it even worse.
“Common Sense lost ground when parents attacked teachers for doing the job that they themselves had failed to do in disciplining their unruly children.
“It declined even further when schools were required to get parental consent to administer sun lotion or an aspirin to a student, but could not inform parents when a student became pregnant and wanted to have an abortion.
“Common Sense lost the will to live when churches became businesses, and criminals received better treatment than their victims.
“Common Sense was preceded in death by his parents, Truth and Trust, by his wife Discretion, by his daughter, Responsibility, and by his son, Reason.
“He is survived by his four stepbrothers:
– I Know My Rights
– I Want it Now
– Someone Else is To Blame, and
– I’m A Victim.
“Not many attended his funeral because very few realized that he was gone. If you still remember him, pass this on. If not, join the majority and do nothing.”
“Common sense is not so common. ” – Voltaire