Dead Grass

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The grass I cut a week ago are lying dead and dry on the ground, but I leave them be.  Agitated birds perched  atop nearby trees are singing merry tunes this cool and still Saturday afternoon, and just might find them later when it’s time to build nests. Everything seems fine with my feathered and winged friends this part of the universe.  I wonder if they know how fragile their world has become and how precariously it is seated at the precipice– staring down the  void of destruction waiting below.

The Little Things You Do

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. “Enjoy little things in life for one day you ‘ll look back and realize they were the big things…”

Today husband and I celebrate our 18th year together as a married couple.  This post however, is not an outline of what makes our marriage successful; rather, it is an enumeration of the little things that my dear husband does that make me love him more everyday.

  1.  He is very prayerful and has deep faith in God. He prays when he wakes up, and prays before he sleeps.  Before we go out of the house, we pray together for protection. Before the kids go to school, he reminds them to say a prayer.  Before he or I travel, we would pray. We pray before meals.  We go to Church when he is home; he goes to Church when he isn’t home…When problems threaten to overwhelm us, he’d remind me to pray and trust in God’s providence.  I remember one time when the kids were in vacation in Manila and had to go back home soon for school was just a few days away and we didn’t have enough money  for their airfare.  My in-laws aren’t the thoughtful kind [at least, according to my standard]; it pains me to say that there were so many instances we sought their help and they often turned us down. And to think that the kids were there to visit them [sigh].  Anyways, I was already panicking. Then one night, at about 10 PM, he called me.  The first thing he said was that God is really good to us.  It turned out he won Php 60,000.00 in a three-digit lottery that night.  A colleague has shared with him these numbers and in desperation, he bet on them.  So we were able to book the kids plane tickets, buy our eldest a mobile for her birthday, and send money to my in-laws to pay for the electricity bill incurred because of their grandchildren’s use of the AC [another sigh].  When the sex was really good, he’d say “thank you Lord for this”, just after he tells me he loves me.  I have no idea if other men do this but I’m just saying my husband DOES!
  2. He always helps me around the house. Yes, he can be really bossy.  But he seems to enjoy cooking, doing the laundry, cleaning the appliances or cutting grass, not to mention bathing the dogs.  He always senses when I’m exhausted so he’d tell me to just rest and he would do all the housework.  This after he has traveled uncomfortably almost six hours in the middle of the night to get home.  I say uncomfortably because his free bus ride is on those slow, non-air conditioned, unlimited-stop trips. But then again, just about everything in this country is lousy and sucks like hell for poor people.
  3. He is considerate in the most unexpected ways.  When we go to sleep, and he is uncomfortable with his position and wants to turn his back on me, he would tell me, asking permission if he could do so.
  4. He is a dedicated cop. He would go on street duty for 12 hours straight, on a night shift, standing up most of the time.  He studies laws on traffic, drugs, crimes and criminal procedure and follows them studiously.  I remember someone bringing him to court and falsely accusing him because he was upholding an ordinance.  An ordinance! For him, all laws, big or small, have to be defended. Then there were times he would call me to ask for right terms to put on the complaints he is filing.  He passed all police-related examinations and was one of the top ten passers of a national police commission examination.
  5. He is a loving father and husband.  As a dad, he is sweet and solicitous with his daughters.  He would patiently take care of them when they get sick;  rub ointments on their backs when they have cough, spend time trading jokes and stories with them.  And he commands obedience from them with little effort, something I have never succeeded in.  He is affectionate but firm. He calls every night just to check if the kids are home from school or if we have eaten dinner. He never fails to call several times a day to make sure we are alright, to say goodnight, and of course, to assure me he loves me.

Yes, these things may seem little.  But now I’m recalling them, I realize they are the big things that make a woman most appreciative of her man <3.

Surviving LDR

My husband and I have been on a long distance relationship since 2008.  Summer of said year, I went home, together with our kids, to my old and ailing parents.  He understood perfectly that there was no one else to care for them but me. It wasn’t practical for him to come with us so I left him there, living alternately between a small staff room in the police station where he is assigned, and our house.  To say it was the biggest decision and sacrifice we had to make is an understatement.

 It was so difficult at first. We missed each other terribly. Sometimes we won’t see each other for a month.  I used to cry long into the night, wishing he was beside me and feeling his warmth and the security of his arms around me.   But my days soon got so busy caring for my parents and the girls, who were at that time, still in elementary school.   We lived on daily phone calls, with me whining and wailing every time how much I miss him.  There were times when I felt so alone dealing with so many things all by myself.  But he would always quietly encourage me to hold on and think of the greater purpose of our sacrifice.

When both my parents passed away, we considered it was high time to go back and live with him. But by then I already had a job and our eldest daughter was about to attend college.  She was planning to study library science and this course is not available there.  Also, the college where I work provides free tuition for employees’ children and it seemed such a good opportunity to miss, especially that fees in private schools are expensive.  For their part, the girls vehemently refused to go back and leave their friends here.  So, here we are, still living apart, albeit for different reasons.

I guess we both got used to the situation in the long run.  What I’m thankful for though, is that our relationship did not suffer much.  Oh yes there were times I feared that he’d change, or that he’d be unfaithful.  And I lament that I wasn’t able to take care of him the way I wanted to, that I wasn’t there for him all those times he needed me, or when I needed him.  And I feel sad the girls are growing up without the constant presence of their father.  But we found our way through all the fears and doubts and longing, and held on.  Someday, I don’t know when, we will be together, like, everyday, again.  I am so looking forward to that day, so I can tell him how much I missed him.

Capitalizing on Faith

Last month, on a spur of the moment decision, my co-workers and I booked promo flights to Cebu.  We had no itinerary in mind; we were just stressed out employees desperately wanting a break.  So last week, we hopped on the plane for a thirty-minute flight to the Philippine’s oldest city.  I have been there a lot of times in the past but they were usually career-related trips like seminars and conferences.  Thus, I was never really able to go around and see the sights.  At that point, we had planned out (more or less), our route: We go on a city tour and then proceed south to visit a shrine of the Virgin Mary.

2015_04_11_10_07_16I’ve never seen anything like it, though.  Well, it’s not surprising as I’ve never been anywhere near Europe, where towering cathedrals and magnificent squares inspire awe among millions of tourists. Of course, these monuments are now valued only for their historical significance.  But, this is not so in the Philippines.  We take religion very seriously here, albeit, in my opinion, too seriously and not always to our own good.  So, upon arriving at Simala, where the shrine is located, I was dumbstruck by the sheer size of the place and the building; what immediately came to my mind was the implication of its cost, and it’s even a long way from being finished. Gigantic statues of the Virgin were everywhere.   About a hundred steps on the stairway led to the Church, where masses were held every hour, at the center of the palatial edifice.  The inner sanctum housed more statues, the most revered among them was that of the weeping Virgin.  There was also a museum with vast paintings and hundreds of religious memorabilia, some looking very expensive .  The walls and glass compartments around were littered with hundreds of petition letters and their corresponding miracle testimonials. 2015_04_11_10_09_09

Chiefly, we went there to pray and offer petitions. As it was my father’s death anniversary, I wanted to light a candle for him.  The candle cost me Php 35.00.  I also wrote down prayers, but I donated Php100.00 for that. In a nearby booth sat a dour looking nun with a thick pad of receipt in front of her. I learned later that those who wanted to have pamisa (these are specific intentions announced at mass) have to pay in these booths and they get a receipt. And I was like: 1) wow, how much money does this place make in a day?; 2) wow, is this practice found in the Bible or what?; and 3) wow, does the receipt mean they pay taxes? I always thought religious institutions were tax exempt. On second thought, they do need lots of money to keep this enormous place up.  Which got me wondering why they had to build it like this in the first place. I mean, when the miracle of the crying Virgin happened, did it mean she wanted a palace built for her? Well, she sure did attract the attention of millions of devotees. Nonetheless, I believe she and the founders of the shrine were at cross purposes. 2015_04_11_10_19_29

We went up to pray some more, and explore the museum.  It should have been a really solemn place and occasion except that one could hardly concentrate because there were literally thousands of people going about, taking photos, but mostly falling in line to see and ask for Mary’s intercession in whatever struggles they were going through at the moment.  Again, it got me wondering if people came here to pray for their own interests only? Judging from the testimonials, it would appear so.  But I sincerely hope not. I find it disturbing, despite my faith, that people reduce God, to rephrase John Green, as a “wish granting factory.”

I’m Finally Grieving

MY cousin one day posted on Facebook an old family photo of my dad’s family, circa 1960’s [years before I was born, though].  It shows my grandma and grandpa, all their grown up sons and daughters, and in-laws.  My dad, the eldest of the brood, looks really young and dashing, and my mom, very pretty and fashionable in her classic dress.  All of a sudden, I was hit by a great pang of longing and the floodgates open:I burst into tears, literally crying buckets and  I couldn’t seem to stop.  My mind conjures hundred of memories of them, reeling like old movies–my dad taking pictures of us kids, my mother watering her rows of red and white anthuriums; my dad playing, and singling along to, his favorite Sinatra songs, my mom cooking dinner after dashing home from work; my dad fixing some broken appliance, his perpetually broken eyeglasses perched on his nose, and my mom sewing me a dress for a piano recital.   There were many more sad and happy moments I recalled within those long minutes I was slumped on that chair sobbing my heart out.  And interspersed with these bittersweet recollections is the regret of taking for granted their presence and the many times I wasted being angry, resentful and rebellious, to them. But there is also the feeling of relief that finally, I could grieve their passing instead of ignoring and bottling up my sorrow all these long, lonely months… :((

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[My dad, in a dark suit, seated beside grandma, and my mom, in a printed dress, standing behind him]