Moving away from the Bay Area (we lived in Daly City for 27 years to be close to Chita’s place of work as an accountant) in 2008 to Sacramento was a very good decision. First off, we are both retired, and the cost of living in Daly City is high, as in most Bay Area places, for it is close to San Francisco, a major tourist destination, once the No. 1 in the world!
After seven years of living here, we have come to enjoy many unforeseen and unexpected good things that many retired people look forward to. So, today I have decided to compile the good points, which I will term the factors of our “happiness and contentment.”
Waking up to a sunny and slightly cool morning, even though it is still summer (and California is always sunny, which can be a problem if rain does not come soon), I look up at the ceiling of our bedroom and see some slits of sunlight coming through the blinds, and then I say a prayer of thanks for another day in my life.
Getting up slowly, I remove my bipap machine (I suffer from sleep apnea, and I have to use this mask that transports air through my nostrils down my throat, passing the uvula), and again thank the good Lord I have no aches and pains on my legs and ankles, and therefore I can walk a bit faster today.
Chita has also risen by now and is busy preparing our breakfast, which consists of bread and some jams or, depending on our mood, fried rice, egg and bacon. But this morning we opt for lighter fare, as at lunch we will enjoy a slightly heavy meal, and dinner will definitely be very light.
If it is Monday, Wednesday or Friday, my schedule of meals would be a light breakfast, moderate lunch and a sandwich for dinner (which is after my three-hour session at the dialysis center). I must always watch my fluid intake, for it is important I stick to about the equivalent of three plastic water bottles each day.
As we drive out of our rented but gated apartment complex, I am often glad to see no vehicles on the road, for aside from the rush hour, hardly any road traffic exists, for we are in an area with a small town atmosphere. Imagine a state capital, Sacramento, the capital of California, appearing like a small town! It is rare to hear the roar of car engines, and noise is minimal, or there is none at all.
Cruising at country speed (which is between 30-40 mph), we head for our parish, St. Clare Catholic Church, 15 minutes away. We do this on a daily basis, and we love it. By now we have made lots of friends among the Caucasians, and especially the Filipinos and Indians. We socialize often with the Filipinos during special occasions like baptisms, wedding anniversaries and birthdays. We consider St. Clare our second home.
I have a third home, the dialysis center where I go MWF. By now, I have been on dialysis for 16 months, and I know all of the technicians and nurses who are all very warm and friendly but professional in their behavior.
Two years ago I suffered from internal hemorrhage and had to be rushed to the hospital. Luckily, I got there in due time, and after two days in ICU was back home but had to undergo rehab, which included indoor and walking exercises to bring back the strength of my limbs. At the same time I began dialysis, which was a bit strict at first but later relaxed, and now I have put on weight and feel great.
When we feel like taking in a gourmet meal, which Chita is an expert at finding in Sacramento, we go and make it a lunch with or without some friends. A part of our enjoyment perhaps, living in America, is that unlike war-torn places today in the world, we do not fear being bombed by terrorists while we eat. When we shop around, we know that the shops will not just erupt with shootings (although we did have sporadic shootings in schools and stores, though very rare).
And when we go back to our parked cars after a meal or shopping, we are confident that no one has rigged the car with a bomb, which will explode once I turn the ignition on!
One good fortune I enjoy is the fact that we moved to Sacramento. First to move were our two children, Bobby and Gina, to their respective homes, years before Chita retired. Once we arrived, a sister of hers also moved here to join what I call our “network.” And this has worked well whenever we need help from each other.
Chita is an excellent chef, and she enjoys cooking the favorite dishes of our children; she is able to share them with Bob and Gina, who either come over to pick up their portions or just join us at mealtime. The same goes for Lita, who works and has little time to cook. Chita shares a portion for Lita to take home to her apartment, where her husband Cris lives. And they live just five minutes away from us.
It is heartwarming to realize today that our five children are well-situated, with good paying jobs which they love and houses of their own, and friends to share their leisure moments happily.
Whenever we have a visiting “fireman or firemen” from Manila or just somewhere in California, we make sure they come and enjoy our company and, of course, our social moments. We usually pick them up from the San Francisco or Sacramento airport to ferry them here with us. Once with us, the relative usually stays with Bob or Gina, where they always have an extra bedroom for guests.
And since our place is strategically located, our guests have a choice of Lake Tahoe, Reno, or casinos like Thunder Valley, Cash Creek and Red Hawk (all owned and managed by American Indian tribes). Thunder Valley is about 20 minutes away. We have tried their buffets as well as their quality Chinese restaurant, where we go for excellent dim sum and congee.
For those willing to really shop, we drive to Vacaville about one hour away, where factory outlets sell quality products at very low prices.
In my twilight years, with the surprising energy I still have, I continue to write reflections and biographies (about friends, as well as commissioned ones). Once in a while, I am invited to speak on subjects like how to write your memoir, or about my country, the Philippines. Most of my audience are old Sacramento Caucasians, many of whom have not even left California their entire lives.
Every year or so we manage to visit the Philippines and see our relatives there, and enjoy many goodies we cannot enjoy here in Sacramento, such as Philippine fruits and delicacies which we miss a lot. Over the years, we were also able to go on ocean cruises outside the US.
At sundown, having had a relaxing and happy day, we drive home and park in our designated slot (strangers who park are towed and are charged for it), which we have occupied for many years now as apartment dwellers of Antelope Vista, a gated community. Depending on how I feel, I take a jigger of brandy or two just before bedtime. That serves as my nightcap before I brush my teeth and perform my ablution before sleeping. I gulp my set of pills, and then I hit the hay.
If and when we like to watch a movie, we go whenever there is a senior discount for tickets. Once inside we can decide to see more than one depending on our energy and eyesight. When we do not feel like going to a theater, we watch good movies on TV through a channel service called Netflix, which we watch in our huge bedroom TV, until we fall asleep!