I don’t have the heart, but somebody should tell my 97-year-old uncle, Peping, he’s way past life’s planting season. Harvest time is upon him, and that should also go for the next generation of seniors like me.
But Tito Peping would have none of it, it seems. Asthma, which he has battled all his life, does not stop him from going to the office every day. An oxygen tank stands behind him as he sits at his desk; at home is a ready nebulizer.
Oh yes, those are life-saving devices, but, if anyone knows the risk business, it’s Tito Peping. A marksman in the war, he says life is about being prepared at all times.
He’s still actively engaged in a variety of businesses, and, in fact, remains open yet to new ones. His mango orchard is thriving; I know, because he sends me and other nieces and nephews our share of his sweet harvests.
He once tried planting the fast-disappearing bean from which the Spanish summer drink horchata is grown. It’s a sentimental family thing that started with their father, Lolo Rafael, and came down to our generation. Alas, the local soil somehow did not prove hospitable. That venture would have been long-term, too.
Making a quick buck was never his thing, not especially at the stock market. He and my dad played the market together, and they would talk animatedly about it. I wondered if he played the market any differently now. Chuckling, he replied in Spanish, his parents’ and siblings’ home language, “I have always been conservative, ya sabes, then and now—como tu papá, always looking to the long term. I put my money only on secure issues.”
I was impressed to see a folder recording the entire history of his holdings, from the index numbers of the day. Interestingly enough, the folder also lists what goes to which heir. He is, indeed, prepared, but, again, not necessarily to go.
Harvest time to him is just another season. If anything, it only means setting up new goals and pursuing new ideas, as though he had all the time in the world. Well, maybe he has.
If I live to his age—I have the same good genes—I should be looking 20 years forward! Indeed, Tito Peping inspires me and makes me feel young at 77! That’s why I love it that I still have four uncles of my dad’s generation to look up to—a 95, an 87 and an 85. My dad left at 91; next year is his centenary.
When cousins Tina, Ninit and I dropped in at Tito Peping’s office with our Christmas presents, it did not surprise us that he was ready with his. I gave him a jar of garlic peanuts, promising to continue hunting for his favorite drink, Campari, which had disappeared from all the reachable liquor stores.
With Christmas almost here, I gave up, and sent him instead a four-pack of Crazy Carabao, a local craft boutique beer, with another jar of peanuts. That should make his day!
At Christmas, just before another year ends, I like to take stock. I look at what I have achieved and, from there, decide what I’d like to do next, and see in what areas I can improve.
Following my dad’s and Tito Peping’s example, I look forward to yet another harvest. I could still learn to try my hand at safe, conservative, long-term investments while on the lookout for new ideas out there.
I happen to have a husband who can be many things he wants, and we’re both convinced that the new technology offers us opportunities and challenges. As we see it, the political situation is headed toward curtailing more and more freedom of political expression, but nothing can stop the demand for learning to communicate better.
Books have to be written. Every profession requires writing skills, and information is still communicated by words. And thank God, seniors still like to read. Life can indeed go on and on, we just have to keep in step with the times.
Christmastime always gives me pause. No other time fills me with wonder, year after year—
how much time has passed, and how many Christmases I’ve seen come and go, and how I, not exactly the most organized person in the world, somehow manage to get things done.
When I find a moment alone, I count my many blessings. I pause to hold my loved ones close to my happy heart.