It must be that time of life: I feel like having a dog again.
Like a child going through its stuffed-toy phase, I find myself thinking, within deliberate earshot of Vergel, how nice it would be if we had a dog, even if I very well know we can’t have one; for one thing, our condo does not allow pets, and moving is out of the question.
Still I go on and on about it, and a dog person himself, Vergel not only indulges me but shares in the excitement of choosing, dreamily, from among the breeds, even reading up on them. That’s as much fun as we can have over the prospect.
Oh, not really. We in fact got ourselves not one but two poodles, both pink—at Toys ’R’ Us. They were cutely frisky, moving back and forth nervously, yelping, on batteries. But one after the other, they were hijacked by two granddaughters, Mona and Mavis, who, at age 7, are themselves too young to have live pets.
We’re thus left with the consolation of an old teddy bear. It has seen better days and sits in our closet, but still ready to be re-commissioned at any time. It has had to be retired after taking one spin too many in the washing machine, losing its cuddly feel and looks. But it should do for old time’s sake.
Sometimes, in my recurring daydream, I also picture a weekend farm, tended, though, not by me but by a full-time crew. Even in fantasies, I do not do things I wouldn’t in real life. I, in fact, go around prospecting, but, unlike with my other fantasies, Vergel is careful not to give even the slightest impression he’s with me on this one.
Not only does he know me well enough, but we’ve also seen enough friends who bought and sold such dream farms after losing interest or energy or capacity, but, most practically, losing the company of friends who used to come along weekends for mahjong.
It seems that for us the time for such things is past, not just because we are changing, but life itself, indeed, everything around us, is. Still I can’t seem to help myself longing to hug something else beyond grandchildren or grow things that bear flowers or fruits, something to lose myself in—a passion of sorts, a second serving of love, if you like.
I have learned in my long years to recognize love even in the guise of longing for something or someone missed. Once this is recognized as love, how quickly the emptiness disappears. Fantasies are not mere capricious whim; I see them as signs there’s still a lot of love from where it comes. Watching animals, children and nature can get me all choked up, perfect for inspiring a cause, or a mission.
Fr. Tito Caluag, in his Sunday column and at my birthday Mass on Saturday, spoke of our life’s mission—the reason we were born and why certain things happen to us. It should be easy enough for us seniors, who do more pondering than actually doing, to recognize it, and if we’re keen enough we find out that it’s what we’ve actually been doing and that it only requires being done purposefully and conscientiously. Sometimes, we don’t even have to be so ambitious; by what we are and what we do, indeed, by just being happily around, we are able to inspire others toward the higher good.
I was deeply consoled by Father Tito’s generous definition of “mission,” because if I hadn’t known that, as late in the day as it is, I’d have panicked I might not have had one. But I do sit meditatively, and in the quiet of my thoughts look at my own life and discover the good that’s happened to me as well as through me.
Many times I find myself smiling, giggling even, sometimes without knowing exactly why. Life is, indeed, hilarious at this age, full of private jokes, fully recognizable or not, that come to mind unbidden but, oh, so welcome. Much of the hilarity, I now suspect, comes from a sense of fulfilled mission, by the grace of God more than my own efforts.
Vergel is not at all perturbed by my fits of private laughter; his own nanay, if she wasn’t singing, would be giggling by herself, too. He just smiles back, perhaps recalling her familiar happy habits or suspecting I’m sneaking off again to our farm to smell the flowers.