Archive for February, 2005
At around 12:45 pm, Connie called sis. Connie was sobbing. Ate Alice was gone. Connie and Kuya Nestor were by her side when she took her last breath. But before she did, she opened her eyes, waved her hand, took a deep breath and then she passed on. Connie felt that Ate Alice wanted to say something. Although, a friend thought that the wave meant her last goodbye.
I have been doing laundry all day. Ryan and Ryland have been jumping and playing ball in their bedroom. After lunch, R got mad and made them stop. Later in the afternoon when I checked my last load in the washer, it wasn’t finished. The water didn’t drain. I thought the washer was broken. I tried to push the knob in and then out but it wouldn’t work. I checked the plug and it was in the socket. I told R that I would have to call a serviceman the next day.
Wondering what went wrong, R noticed that the green light on our carbon monoxide detector, which was plugged on the same outlet, wasn’t on. He found out that the main switch, where we plug the washer and carbon monoxide detector, was turned off. I suspected that it must have slipped down because of the shaking caused by the kids’ jumping up and down.
Sometimes, when I’m in the basement, the light bulb turns on and off when the kids are running in the kitchen, which is above our laundry room. I reprimanded Ryan and Ryland for jumping and playing ball in the house. When the weather is nice, I encourage them to play outside when they get that restless. But can I really blame them if they want to stay indoors during winter?
Ate Alice is a very dear family friend. I met her the first time I arrived in Canada. She was Mama’s kumare first. I easily made a strong connection with Ate Alice during my first few days here in this foreign land. We were both pregnant then with our first babies and we were both far apart from our beloved partners, who were still in the Philippines.
I was 7 ½ months pregnant when I came to Canada. It was the first time that I have been apart from R and I was just overwhelmed with mixed emotions. I knew that I made the right decision to come here because life was just so hard back home. Yet I doubted if my relationship with R would stay strong with us being apart from each other. Besides, we wouldn’t be able to raise our baby together for a while. I was able to confide these feelings to Ate Alice.
When Reggie was born, I asked Ate Alice to be his ninang. Her family and mine have maintained a strong friendship and we kept close contact. We celebrated birthdays, christenings, weddings and anniversaries together. Our children are also friends with each other.
Late last year, Ate Alice discovered that she had a brain tumor. It was very scary but she kept strong.
On Tuesday, she was scheduled to have surgery to remove her brain tumor. The procedure that was supposed to last for 6 hours was extended to 10 hours. She had an internal bleeding. She remained unconscious that first night.
The following night, sis called and told me that Ate Alice’s condition has worsened. She was now brain-dead. She was breathing only with the help of a respirator. The doctor was talking about pulling out the plug and donating organs. My tears fell when I hung up the phone. That night I told my kids to pray for her.
On Thursday, R, Reggie (he didn’t have school) and I went with sis to the hospital to see Ate Alice. I was teary-eyed when we got on the 7th floor. I saw her sister Connie, puffy-eyed, in the “quiet room.” Ate’s husband, Nestor, and their two sons were also there. These boys could lose their mother and it just broke my heart. My children are just of the same ages and I couldn’t imagine leaving them. Later, the priest came by and we all prayed. I heard Connie crying while we were praying. Tears also ran down my cheeks.
I asked Kuya Nestor how Ate Alice was before the surgery. He said that she was happy. They were making jokes. She was even laughing, covering her mouth because the doctor made her take her dentures off. Hindi man lang siya nagbilin. With a cracking voice, Kuya Nestor said that he doesn’t even know the passwords to their bank accounts. She wasn’t expecting that anything bad would happen. But I guess that she must be worried, too. The couple talked about not crying but Kuya Nestor learned that Ate Alice had always been crying at work.
We went to the ICU to see her. She lay there on the bed, hooked up on the respirator. I saw where they cut her on the head, just behind the left ear. The attendant, who was looking after her, said that we could talk to her and hold her. I held her hand and touched her leg. She felt quite cold to the touch. The attendant said that there were only signs of lower brain activity. All signs of higher brain activity were no longer there. I couldn’t help crying.
Today, sis had some good news. Ate Alice was out of the ICU. She was transferred to a ward and breathing on her own. Mama also said that Ate Alice was perspiring and color has returned to her skin. It must be a good sign. Kuya Nestor wanted somebody to be there by her side all the time. Just in case she opens her eyes, he didn’t want her to be alone. But he has a store to attend to, and the kids had to go to school, too. They already missed a week of school.
Friends have volunteered to take turns in staying at the hospital. And though it would take a miracle to keep Ate Alice alive, that’s what we’re hoping for.
According to an article in a magazine: When you start having children, your level of concentration goes down.
I can attest to that.
I used to switch our bagged lunches (my kids’ and mine) and sometimes I would wake up in the morning and wonder if it was a school day or not. These things rarely happen now since I am more relaxed now that I am working at home.
Two more experiences come to mind.
When Reggie was still a baby, I once got up in the middle of the night to make him a bottle of milk. Instead of pouring the hot water in the bottle, I poured it in the can of Enfalac. Luckily, I have poured only a little bit of water on the powdered milk when I came back to my senses. Only the top was touched with water. I was able to save the rest of the can.
When Ryland was about 2, the kids and I went to Cartown, which was at that time just a few blocks away from our place. Before we left, I made sure that my camera was in my purse. When we got to Cartown, I searched for my camera but I couldn’t find it. So I hurriedly went back home, pushing Ryland in the stroller. I left Reggie, then 10 and Ryan, then 6, with the other kids. When I got home, I frantically searched for the camera. When I couldn’t find it, I checked my purse. Lo and behold, it was right there at the bottom all this time. Ryland and I went back flying to Cartown just in time. The activities just started. I took lots of pictures.
I always take precautions when I am sick to cover my mouth when I cough and wash my hands especially before I handle our food. I used a different cup for brushing my teeth and even separated my toothbrush from the rest. But no matter how careful I was, Ryland still caught a cold. He probably didn’t catch it from me. He probably got it from the kids at school. Or I could blame the weather. I know that these swinging temperatures couldn’t be any good.
Ryland has been coughing these past few days. I made him take cough syrup and also Children’s Motrin on Wednesday when he had a slight fever. It helped that he saw me last week taking Robitussin because he didn’t like taking medicines either. I bragged to him that I took the medicine and it made me feel better.
Yesterday, he climbed up on my lap while I was still working.
Ryland: Mommy, can you play YuGiOh with me?
Mom: Oh no, not today. I’m working. But you know what? Tomorrow, I’m working only up to 5:00. We can play tomorrow.
Ryland: But what happens if I forget?
Mom: I will remind you.
He went back to his bedroom. The doors upstairs were all closed because R was cooking squid. We always close all the doors when we are cooking so the bedrooms won’t smell. Ryland must be running when he went to his bedroom. BANG. It was quiet for a few seconds. Then I heard a loud cry. I went to his bedroom. Ryland was on the bed crying. He bumped his head on the door. It must have swung open and hit his head. I felt his head. There was a small bump. I asked Reggie to get some ice downstairs. I wrapped it in a face towel and put it over his bump. Ryland didn’t like it. “No, Mommy! Stop, Mommy!” He kept begging me in between his coughs. I was hugging him and although it broke my heart to have him beg like that, I knew that I have to put ice on that bump. His begging went on for about 20 minutes. Then he fell asleep and I just left the ice on his head until he woke up after an hour. The bump has become smaller.
Today, I finished work early and I kept my promise.
Ryland and I played the board game YuGiOh DungeonDice Monsters. He showed me how to play the game. He loved teaching me. I didn’t really understand the object of the game but I just played along. What really matters is that I made my child happy. If he’s happy, I am, too.
Ryland and Ryan had Valentine’s Day parties in their respective classes. They also exchanged Valentine cards with their classmates.
I got a heart-shaped Cadbury milk chocolate from work. I didn’t get any flowers or Valentine’s card from my husband. I didn’t give him any either. We’re just not into it. And I don’t really care.
R and I are witnessing first-hand the break up of the marriage of our kumpare and kumare. He is R’s best friend. And it is really disheartening because they have two small kids.
The whole situation with our kumpare and kumare has been an eye-opener for me. It must have been for R as well. We fight less now and are getting along better than ever. Or it could probably be because he’s not working and just at home relaxing. He’s less tired. Or it could probably be that I am also less stressed because he’s helping more around the house. Or it could be that we both have matured and tolerate each other more. Well, whatever it is, I like this. We’re learning to appreciate each other more. I hope that we maintain this blissful serenity.
“The first seven years of a child are the formative years,” said one of my college instructors. I wondered if that was the reason we Filipinos throw big parties for the seventh birthday of a child — to celebrate the end of those formative years? Mama threw a big one for my sister when she turned seven. She didn’t do that when I did. As a young child, I wondered if that was because Mama loved her more than she loved me. It was just one of those sibling rivalries. Of course, now that I am a mother, I realized that she loved and still loves us both equally.
When I came here in Winnipeg, I found out that it has become a Filipino custom to throw Dinner and Dance parties for a child’s seventh birthday. Ronald and I couldn’t afford to throw lavish parties. When our oldest son, Reggie, turned seven, we opted to have a simple children’s party. Reggie wanted to invite his school friends anyway and he didn’t really enjoy Dinner and Dance parties. Besides, I thought that if we threw a Dinner and Dance party for him, then we’d also have to do it for his younger siblings, lest they get jealous, like I did.
Ryland turned seven this February. He invited eight classmates as well as two ten-year-old brothers who are Ryan’s classmates. Of course, Tita Lina’s family was invited and so was Lola. We also invited his ninangs and a few close friends. The venue was our home, which I decorated with SpongeBob SquarePants theme to match the SpongeBob piñata. I decorated our living room with yellow and blue streamers and yellow and blue balloons. The basement had a Valentine theme — red and white streamers and red and pink heart balloons.
We ordered pizzas for the little ones and for the not-so-little ones there were: kare-kare with bagoong, pancit bihon, lumpiang shanghai and majablanco for desert. Mama made some pancit malabon. I made chicken macaroni salad and also two-layered Jello (Strawberry and Fruit Fiesta flavours) in small plastic cups. My sister, Lina, took care of the ice cream cake, which had a soccer theme.
The first to arrive were our dear friends Elaine and husband Mike. At around 1:00 p.m., the little guests started arriving. “They are small,” Elaine was surprised. “Well,” I replied, “they’re only six- and seven-year-olds. They’re only that small.” They all ran together upstairs to the kids’ bedroom. The rumblings of their sturdy short legs thundered as they climbed up the stairs.
Elaine was kind enough to handle the camcorder. The other guests, which included Ninang Empress and Ninang Weng, came. The little ones ate first. They enjoyed the pizzas and the Solar Strawberry Starfruit Kool-aid and the Blue Moon Berry Kool-aid. It was the grown-ups’ turn to eat when they played board games in the living room.
They got bored too soon. “Can we play outside?” Evan asked. I didn’t think so. Although it was a very lovely 2 degrees C outside, I didn’t think that I could handle these rambunctious six- and seven-year-olds out in the backyard. Besides, Ronald was worried that they would just bring mud inside the house.
“Do you guys want to play a Playstation game?” Yes was the unanimous answer. So off they went to the basement where Reggie set up the Grand Turismo game. They took turns as we only had two controllers. Lola overheard Reggie telling Agnus, “They’re driving me crazy.” Jordan left at 2 p.m. since he had a hockey tournament.
We did the piñata next. Everybody was excited. They formed a line and started hitting SpongeBob. Boy, did it take a long time to bring that four-sided yellow character down. When the piñata finally broke, the kids scattered around to pick up the candies and treats on the floor.
Then there was the first cry. Carter didn’t get any. Good thing that I have extras stashed away. I gave him some.
Then we heard the next cry. It was louder. It was Ryland.
“Why are you crying?”
“Mitchell stole my candy.”
Mitchell took Ryland’s candy, but he gave it back to him right away when I came to Ryland’s side.
“Now can we play outside?” I didn’t think so. “Do you guys want to watch Pokemon tapes?” Yes! Some did, and some played with Ryland’s toys in his bedroom. The day before, Ryland made me change the comforter on his bed to the one with pictures of cars in it. He didn’t want his friends to see his Winnie the Pooh blanket because he’s a big boy now. “Mommy, they made a mess in my bedroom,” he complained after a while. “That’s okay, we’ll clean it up later.”
Later on we sang Happy Birthday. Ryland blew the candles and we lighted some sparklers (lusis). We had some ice cream cake. It was yummy! Ryland opened the presents. There were many — Spiderman Construction Set, YuGiOh DungeonDice Monsters, Mega Bloks Gyro Racers — just to name a few. Ryland let his friends played with some of the presents. We took lots of pictures.
At around 4:00 pm, parents started coming to pick up our little guests. There was quite a confusion in finding their jackets which were piled on the floor. But we managed to match the jackets to their owners. Ryland gave his friends goody bags and thanked them for coming.
The rest of the guests left at 5:00 p.m. My legs were sore by the end of the day. Ryland was overwhelmed by the many presents that he received. He didn’t know which ones to play with first.
“Did you have fun?”
“No, Mitchell stole my candy!”
“But he gave it back to you.”
That was the one thing that stuck out in his young and still immature mind.
In spite of the petty theft, I think he and his friends did have a lot of FUN.