If you could turn back time | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

We landed in Vancouver on a sunny day. The sky was a gorgeous blue and temperature outside was at 18°C, sweater weather in Manila.


Abby, a pretty young Filipino-Canadian with long straight black hair, a bright smile and a terrific personality took charge of me and an elderly couple from Alabama, and took us from our wheelchairs to her electric cart. The gentleman sat in front. He wore blue denim farmer’s overalls. I thought he looked so cute. His wife, my carry-on bag and I rode in the jump seat in the rear, facing backward. It was not the most comfortable way for us to cruise around the terminal.


The lady was funny. “I hate riding this way,” she complained. “I want to see where I am going. I already know where I have been.” I couldn’t have agreed with her more.


Abby took us through immigration and customs without a hitch. She was efficient and energetic but didn’t seem rushed. She took the time to be kind and polite. I noticed she used “po” whenever she addressed me. It gave me a taste of home.


Cash not welcome


It still amazes me that check-in counters at the airport will not take cash. Baggage fees have to be charged on your debit/credit card. It also bothers me that we have to pay for each suitcase that we check in. Only Southwest Airlines flies them for free. And if you want in-flight entertainment you must charge another $2 on your card for earphones.  Ridiculous.


I was sad to leave my sister in Atlanta. We stood in her kitchen, she in her pink robe and pajamas and me in the most comfortable travel outfit I could find, reluctant to say our goodbyes. We made promises of “next year.”


Time went all too fast, but it was a lovely two-month reunion. With heavy but grateful hearts, we both agreed that not all sisters are so blessed.


My ride to the airport was punctual at 6 a.m. The waning moon and a few stars lightened the still dark sky. My driver Rafik said the weather forecast was good.


I relaxed in the back seat of his plush Lincoln MKT and listened to the voice of Tony Bennett singing one of my favorites. And it awakened memories in me of many other gloomy farewells, a long time ago.


“Every time we say goodbye I die a little. Every time we say goodbye I wonder why a little. Why the gods above me, who must be in the know, think so little of me, they allow you to go.”


Blurred images of people and places cross my mind.  Some faces have faded with the years. But a few remain in sharp focus, forever etched in my heart. Despite the tears there is a sense of warm contentment as I remember.  There is no trace of pain or bitterness. By God’s grace, only the sweetness remains.


Forgive me, I got carried away. Music always does that to me.


I arrived in Vancouver tired, sleepy and famished. After all, I had been up since dawn. All I had time for was a cup of coffee. But the welcome that awaited me was invigorating.


Many hugs and kisses later, lunch was served. And I sat in the Hombrebueno kitchen devouring a bowl of delicious hot sinigang na baboy and rice.


By the time this sees print, I will be in Seattle, basking in the love of grand- and great-grandchildren. My daughter will be there, too, waiting for the birth of her first grandchild. More happy times ahead.


Old friends


A visit from an old friend from school made my last weekend in Atlanta extra happy. She and her daughter drove 10 hours from Virginia just to spend three nights with us. That’s love! We go back a long way.


Of course we chatted through the night! My niece who listened in had this to say: “I wish I had been around during your good old days.”


I was amused. I can’t imagine a young person today wanting to live our times.


Sudden thought: If I was in my teens or 20s, would I want to live in their world?


My friend describes that possibility as “painfully delicious.” He goes even further: “What if we could bring back a part of our ‘way back when’ to their ‘here and now?’”


If you could turn back time, how far would you go? This makes me think: What part of my life would I want to live over again?  How much would I edit or delete?


Indulge me as I look back.


I see myself as a little girl safe and happy at home with my parents.


Would I skip the war? I don’t think so.


I am sweet 16. Hello puppy love.


Life and love turn serious. Will I make the same choices?


I hear a ship’s whistle blast in the night. Do I wave goodbye to the people below or make a dash down the gangplank before we sail?


Could I undo the nasty quarrel that ended it all?


Someone once asked me what part of this drama called “my life” I would change. The first act? The finale? Should I call for a stand-in? A rewrite?


Then I remember words from the “Rubaiyat”:


“The Moving Finger writes, and having writ, moves on: nor all the piety nor wit shall lure it back to cancel half a line. Nor all thy tears wash out a word of it.”


My eyes mist up. But there are no regrets.


In my heart there is only peace and unspeakable joy!






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