In the recent months whenever I visit Gilda Cordero Fernando, I am reminded of that Zen proverb: “The quieter you become, the more you can hear.”
Unlike, say, five or more years ago when we could converse and she would astonish me with her memory for the slightest detail, these days all we do is exchange high fives or knock our fists together or clasp hands. If I can get a sentence out of her, I am transported to the heights of happiness.
During the last convening of the GCF Fan Club at her abode last month, she was again colorfully garbed with deliberately mismatched earrings from Japan. Her caregiver rolled her to the sala on her wheelchair that used to have jeepney signs (Cubao-Quiapo) appended to it. Only Gilda can think of that as décor for such a practical equipment like a wheelchair.
She has let her hair go white after years of coloring it. It’s a fine match to her mien that is only beginning to betray the eighth going on ninth decade she is situated in. When she marks her 90th year in June, she is going to be the most youthful-looking nonagenarian on my list. Her pixie haircut is so becoming.
I don’t know why I am moved to write this, knowing she is not on Facebook or any form of social media. I learned from her help that even her email account is already inactive. I continue to send her postal mail which the help acknowledges but which Gilda doesn’t recall.
Maybe because it’s Valentine’s already, and I just need to tell you, Gilda of my heart, how much you are admired and loved. And I am keeping my promise of a few years ago that no matter what state of mind you are in, even as you retreat into silence, I will continue to visit… and in fact, accompany fans who never tire of basking in your presence. —CONTRIBUTED