Twenty-fourteen wasn’t a particularly good year, although, to be fair, I wasn’t singled out—a consensus among friends reveals it wasn’t any kinder to them either.
As early as midyear 2013, dark clouds had begun to gather into a storm, my own “Yolanda” of court cases, considering that my life had been free of such visitations. What began as three bouncing checks too many from the woman we had engaged to manage our little single-room condominium unit grew into a case of illegal occupancy—by her own family of a partner, three children, and a help.
All civil attempts at eviction were met with defiance in the form of human behavior so extreme it gave way to violent eruptions.
Finally, by early March 2014, we got our unit back. Or what was left of it, anyway, for before departing the family from hell went on a trashing rampage inside the 48 square meters. Thankfully, there was only so much damage she could do in so little time: The authorities stood outside waiting after serving an ultimatum.
But guess what? She sued us yet. Of course, we intend to get our retribution.
From one court case, we— particularly a son and a daughter of mine—were dragged into another. In the ghost month of August, a case filed against them three years before was revived; it was an emotional one, involving the custody of my youngest son’s daughter, my youngest granddaughter.
It was the nightmare of my year, if not my lifetime; but, again, Divine Providence intervened. Without excluding anyone from the mother’s side, my granddaughter is back with my son, and his sister, with whose family they live, and after a month’s forced truancy she was back in school. The case, moreover, is going into a more agreeable path—mediation.
Things had started looking quite hopeful even before 2014 ended. The two grandmothers decided to renew their young friendship. In a most welcome gesture, the maternal grandmother decided that it was better if the child was not shuttled between the two homes and offered to take her on longer vacations. For the holidays, therefore, we each had our time with her. Indeed, miracles happen for love of a child.
Emboldened by the experience of having gone through the ringer and survived, I feel almost invulnerable and most appreciative of 2014 for all its lessons. That is not at all to say that I look forward to another such year; but, when bad times come, I know I will emerge the wiser and happier for the experience; I will swallow my pride and reach out to others, and to God—sooner.
The case involving my granddaughter has been especially instructive: It has shown me that friendships are like forgotten investments that pay unexpected dividends in desperate times.
But my granddaughter’s story is not only about friendship’s support, but more so about love for a child. I myself rediscovered with gratitude and humility the treasures in my own life because of her. For all his years in the US Army, my son has never suffered so much: He had to quit his military career, come home, step up to his role as father and breadwinner, and fight big emotional battles.
His fortune has since turned around. There’s the constancy of his sister, a mother of three grown children, who has selflessly come across with her mother-teacher’s heart and mind to be there always for her niece through these seven years. She has been her most patient stabilizer and anchor.
My older son Rob, who won’t be single for long, is usually quite reserved about expressing his own emotions, but not when it comes to his niece, to whom he has been quite openly affectionate and thoughtful. Last but not least, Vergel, ever my true champion in all my battles.
Like the hungry years in one’s life, bad years often prove themselves worth their trouble, but, of course, are better appreciated when they’re over. And 2014 is finally over. Ill winds have shifted. On the morning of Jan. 8, our lawyer called—the case against us was dropped for lack of merit. The other case, over my grandchild, has been moving apace and fairly smoothly into mediation.
Indeed, 2015 brings much promise and hope, and their deliverer is no less than Pope Francis himself, who is visiting this month. He is the easiest to welcome, as he himself is so welcoming even to the least of us.
It is also my St. Theresa’s High School Diamond Jubilee this month. By last count, there are at least 30 attending, 10 of them coming from the US. As an adopted member of Maryknoll High School ’55 (I graduated with many of them in grade school), I’ll be dividing my time between the two groups. I’m excited to see classmates from both schools I’ve not seen since graduation.
It’s almost as if it had all been prearranged that old friends would be around in time for my 75th. If that were not enough, Vergel’s brother Lito and his wife, Grace, are flying in from the US, too, in time not just for my birthday, but also Vergel’s, later in the same month, February. From where I stand now everything looks just perfect.
But for the grace of God, I couldn’t have imagined I’d even get here.