Very early on this day, I woke up to the sad news that my uncle passed away at 4:30 am. As the conversation with my mom was about to end, she belatedly told me, “and Cory Aquino died earlier at 3:18 am”.
First on Tita Cory. Yes, I am sad that we have lost our Icon of Democracy but more than that, I am sadder because cancer took her away. Tita Cory had been my mother’s inspiration in her brave fight against this blasted disease. In times when my mother would falter in her treatments and ready to surrender everything to the will of God and stop her treatments, we always reminded her of Tita Cory who had to undergo surgery, chemotheraphy and radiation therapy in her ripe age. Somehow, my mom would again gather courage from Tita Cory’s strength and continue with hers. In fact, when we first heard of my mother’s cancer likely spreading to the spine, we went to Makati Medical Center for second opinion and we trusted the findings there because “it was where Tita Cory was being treated”. I haven’t had the chance to talk about Tita Cory’s death with my mother because we have been busy with my uncle’s wake but I’m pretty sure in the future she’d compare the course of her medical treatments with Tita Cory’s – there’s nothing to worry though because Tita Cory fought a good fight against cancer until the end. Rest in peace, Tita Cory and thank you for your legacy.
About my Uncle Joel, he was my mother’s brother – in – law and husband of my mother’s youngest sister. He was a Police Officer who was assigned in Wao, Lanao. My auntie, being the youngest, did not go with him to the places he was assigned to through the years becuase she did not want to leave lolo and lola’s side and it was uncle who came home periodically to Butuan from time to time to visit auntie and their two sons. Since he was assigned far, I only got to see him a few times a year, especially during Christmas season.
My fondest memories of him were the times he and auntie would take me with them to watch Sharon Cuneta movies, or Aga Muhlach movies during my childhood. Back then, he used to tease me I look like Eula Valdez, lol.
When my father was dying, uncle rushed home to visit him in the hospital and spent time with him there. I was surprised when he took time to come home immediately upon learning my father’s condition.
About a year after my father died, uncle had a stroke which left him half paralyzed. His stroke left him speechless, although he can still understand us. For five years, uncle was confined in their house at Narra Road, sitting on his chair, watching TV. He sometimes went down the house to look at the outside world. When he learned my lola passed away a year ago, he silently cried. When another aunt passed away late last year, his tears were rolling non-stop down his face.
Since his stroke, uncle usually preferred to stay in his bedroom when we are in their house for family affairs. At first, we purposely heed him to his room to bless his hand but since he always cries whenever we see him, we did not approach him anymore for fear that he might cry again.
Uncle had another stroke last week and for a week, he had been in intensive care unit because of his delicate condition. Although I grieve for him, a part of me is also relieved that he has finally rested. It was painful to see him during the five years he was living a difficult life as a paralytic man. I cannot imagine how he must have felt to be so helpless when he used to be very active as a police officer.
My last happy memory of uncle would be the time when he celebrated his birthday last year in the beach. His family and relatives from Lanao also came here to celebrate it with him. Uncle was so happy that day and tears of joy continuously rolled down his face that day.
Rest in peace, Uncle Joel. We will be missing you.