Archive for December, 2005
Earlier this year, I wrote The Birth of Our Baby when Ryland celebrated his seventh birthday. This prompted me to also write about Ryan’s birth, Our Small Miracle, when he turned 11 this past June. So I vowed to myself that I would write about Reggie’s as well when he celebrated his birthday in November.
You’d think that I would have enough time to do that. But alas, no. I’d like to say that it was the procrastinator in me who waited until November to even sit down and start writing this story. Well, that played a part. But to tell you the truth, this story had been one of the hardest for me to write. Not just because it happened 16 years ago and I had to dig deep in my thoughts to recall the details. But then again, I’ve written stories that are older than this.
1989, the year I got pregnant with my first-born, had been one of the most emotional episodes of my life. You’ll understand once you read A Special Surprise. It’s about the trials I faced and the decisions I had to make when I learned that I was pregnant with Reggie, who turned 16 in November.
I didn’t want to end the year without completing the stories of the births of my three children, the loves of my life. So thanks to my four-day Christmas vacation, I was able to finish the story of Reggie’s birth.
Just as Reggie had been a fruit of love, this story has been a labour of love. As I wrote this story, I was transported back in time – emotionally – that I found myself in tears when I read my finished work. But then again, I always get emotional at this time of the year.
And now, I present to you…
This post was last updated on July 6, 2008.
“I hope you won’t change the way you treat me as a friend and view me as a person once you hear what I am about to say,” I told my friend Jocelyn as we head back to the office after our coffee break one afternoon in June, 1989.
She turned to me and asked with eagerness, “What is it, Irene?”
“I’m pregnant,” I said.
I watched her eyes widen with excitement.
“You’re the first one to know,” I added.
She was the only one at my work place whom I trusted.
I was 24 and single. Mama came home during the Christmas holidays. We had such a good time. Mama had been in Canada since I was 15 and she would come home for a three-week visit once every two years. Mama stayed with me at the house I was renting in Pasig. My sister and her family came over several times during Mama’s vacation. That January we threw a birthday party for my niece, who turned one.
Then Mama came back to Canada. I was alone and the house was quiet again. I felt so lonely and I turned to my boyfriend for comfort.
Two months later I was experiencing these headaches and nausea. I had been throwing up every single morning. I remember one time, I was riding a jeepney and I couldn’t hold it in. I was sitting close to the entrance and I just threw up right there and then.
I didn’t understand at first what was happening to me. I would come home from work so exhausted with this throbbing headache. I would lie on the couch and cry. I couldn’t even get up to prepare supper for myself.
I went to see a doctor at a free walk-in clinic and he prescribed me Dramamine. When it didn’t work, he suggested that I see an eye doctor.
Ate Connie, my neighbour, thought that my headaches could have been brought upon me by a Nuno sa Punso (dwarfish old man under the anthill). That previous month, I went with a group of friends hiking and we had a picnic in the hills of Binangonan, Rizal. When nature called, the only other girl and I relieved ourselves in one of the bushes. We were very careful and chanted, “Tabi tabi po.” (Please excuse us.)
In the Philippines, the old folks believe that there are these invisible dwarves, locally called as Nuno. They usually live under anthills, under trees, near riverbanks or even people’s yards. One has to excuse oneself when they pass by these places just in case they were in their way. You don’t want to hurt them because they might harm you in return. But I didn’t believe in such folklores.
I guess I was just in denial. My boyfriend and I were very careful and I couldn’t believe that I could get pregnant just like that. But it had already been three months since I had my period and I knew it was time to have it confirmed. I went to have a pregnancy test. It came out positive.
LIES AND DILEMMAS
Oh boy. Was I surprised and confused. So many things came to my mind. There was no doubt that I would carry the baby. The other option didn’t even cross my mind. And I was also sure that I wanted to keep the baby. I witnessed a girl give up a baby for adoption and regretted it later. I knew then that I would never do that to my baby.
And the disgrace I have brought upon myself and my family. It’s true that a girl or woman getting pregnant out of wedlock was not that unheard of in Manila during those times, but Filipinos are mostly Catholics and premarital sex was still taboo.
At three months, my belly was starting to bulge. I was starting to show. I lived in a compound where all the residents were relatives of my boyfriend. I knew that I was already the talk of the town, in this case, the talk of the compound. You know, living alone by myself and my boyfriend coming to my place frequently.
I was always late for work and I wasn’t able to come in on Saturdays. A six-day workweek was just too much for me to handle. I needed rest. Co-workers have also noticed my paleness. They were concerned about my health. Mrs. Bautista, the owner of the pharmaceutical company that I was working for, offered to give me Vitamin B shots for free. Oh no, I wasn’t going to have any drugs injected in my body. Not with a baby inside me.
That’s when I decided to tell my supervisor the truth. Well, half of it. Actually, I told her a lie. A big one. “Remember that week I was off from work and I told you guys that I was going to Baguio with my mother? Well, I did go and also, my boyfriend and I got married in a civil ceremony that weekend. And now, I’m having a baby.”
She was so happy for me. And the girls in the accounting department were so excited when they heard the news. “Are you getting married at church?” “Are you changing your last name?” “My boyfriend and I are also planning to get a marriage license. How much did it cost?” These were just some of the questions that I was asked. And I answered them all with lies.
But I couldn’t lie to my neighbours. They knew the truth. As my belly grew bigger, I just dropped my head and lowered my eyes when I got of the house and people stared at me. Yes, I felt the shame. I should have married first before I got myself in that situation. I might have gotten pregnant in the heat of a moment but I loved the father of my unborn child. We had been together for five years but we were both not ready to get married. My mother was sponsoring me to go to Canada and I just learned that my papers were approved. There I was faced with another dilemma.
Should I go or should I stay? I was worried of leaving my boyfriend behind. Canada was so far away and we would be apart for a long time before I could sponsor him and we could be together again. What if he found somebody else, or what if I did? I knew we loved each other but I didn’t know how a long distance relationship could keep us together. And yet I also couldn’t imagine how we would financially support our baby. He was in school and unemployed. I was working but I wasn’t earning that much. I couldn’t even survive on my own income. I was still getting help from my mother.
I was anxious to leave my boyfriend behind. But my motherly instincts kicked in and I knew that it would be best not only for my child, but for all of us, if I went ahead and seek for greener pastures abroad.
It was a chilly September midnight when I first set foot in Winnipeg, Manitoba. With a heavy handbag on one shoulder, a huge long carry bag on another, and my 6 ½ month pregnant belly in front of me, I waddled my way to the airport washroom before I even tried to claim the rest of my baggage. That’s where I saw this lady, a Filipina, and I asked her if she was there to pick up a relative. It turned out that she was Mama’s neighbour and they, along with a bunch of friends, were there to pick me up.
When we got out of the washroom, I saw Mama and her friends. They were very excited to see me. They embraced me and my huge belly as if I belonged to their family. It was an overwhelming feeling. There were these strangers who had seen me for the first time and they welcomed me warmly, regardless of my condition. Quite a contrast on how my neighbours back home, who had known me for a while and yet treated me coldly when they learned that I was pregnant. And to think that the father of my unborn child was a member of their family. That night, we all went to Mama’s apartment where she prepared a small feast for my arrival.
Mama took a day off the following day and we got busy applying for my Manitoba Health Card and Social Insurance Number. She also got me a doctor’s appointment. But the days following that, I spent mostly alone at home. The days got colder and snow started to fall. I was just cooped up in the apartment. There were times when I felt so lonely and started to think if I made the right decision leaving my boyfriend behind in the Philippines. Then one day Ate Alice, Mama’s friend, came to pick me up. She said that we were going to her friend’s house and meeting up Mama there. Her friends threw a surprise baby shower for me. Mama’s friends were really sweet and very supportive.
I wanted to help Mama out. I felt embarrassed giving her this burden. But I couldn’t work even if I wanted to. For who would hire a 6 ½ month pregnant girl? I asked Mama to teach me how to crochet these tissue box holders, which she sold to her friends at $10.00 each. I was happy to help her out with even that little income.
As my due date drew closer, I just tried to enjoy the last days of my pregnancy. My belly grew bigger each day and my baby got busier inside. I could literally see the movements and I could tell that it was the baby’s heel that was poking me from the inside.
On November 19, I started to feel uncomfortable. I couldn’t sit long. I couldn’t stand long either. By this time, my stomach was already so low. But I wasn’t due until a couple of weeks more.
At around midnight of November 20, I was tossing and turning in bed. I was feeling what I later on learned was labour contractions. At one time, I got out of bed to go to the bathroom. There was a little bit blood when I looked in the toilet. I knew it was time. I took a quick shower before I woke up Mama to bring me to the hospital.
“Take a deep breath whenever you feel a contraction coming,” the nurse told me. “Didn’t you take pre-natal classes?” I just shook my head as she went about how I was probably relying on my mother to teach me what she learned from experience. I didn’t even know anything about any pre-natal classes. I think my doctor here in Winnipeg mentioned that but it was already too late for me to sign up. The clock ticked away that day and my contractions became closer. I was later on given an epidural. I was not given any food, nor water, just ice chips to relieve the dryness of my mouth.
After 21 hours of labour, I was only 5 cm dilated. The doctor decided to perform an emergency C-section. I was nervous but my mother was there beside me at the operating table.
At 9:00 p.m., I heard REGINALD’s first cry. The nurse wiped him clean and brought him to me. He was the most beautiful baby I had ever seen. He looked like his father. I knew right away that those eyes would turn out to be like his father’s deep-set eyes. I felt a tear roll down my cheek. I was overcome with emotions. I couldn’t believe that his father and I created this beautiful baby and that this baby developed and grew inside my womb.
Later on, the nurse taught me how to wash my baby and take care of him. He had this tiny body, with ten perfect little fingers and ten perfect little toes. And how I treasured caressing that familiar little heel that kept poking me when he was still inside my womb. I continued to marvel at this being. This baby whom I didn’t expect to have nine months before. An unplanned pregnancy which some may consider as a mistake, an accident. But no. Isn’t an accident something that happened that you wished didn’t? Reggie was not an accident. He was a surprise. Something that I didn’t expect but I was glad that he happened to me.
Born at 21 inches long, this little baby now towers me at 5’ 5”. He has grown to be a kind, compassionate, responsible, and talented young man.
My boyfriend, Ronald, and I got married about a year and a half after Reggie was born. He later on joined me here in Winnipeg. Reggie now has two brothers who love and adore him.
Last updated on July 6, 2008
“Mommy, is Santa real?”
“Remember what I told you last time?”
“Yeah. Santa is the symbol of Christmas.”
“Santa represents the spirit of Christmas, which is?”
“Yup. And giving not only presents but also kindness and goodness.”
Merry Christmas to All!
This announcement has been popping up on the weather channel these past few days.Winter Solstice. Winter officially starts on Wednesday, December 21st at 12:35 PM CST.
Ryan asked me this morning, “Mommy, what is solstice?”
“We have the shortest day of the year on winter solstice. On the other hand, we have the longest day on the summer solstice.”
Another screen popped out on the TV.
Sunrise: 8:35 AM. Sunset: 4:30 PM
“See,” I explained further. “We’ll have only about eight hours of daylight today.”
But the good news is that the days will gradually get longer after today.
According to dictionary.com, solstice means:
1. Either of two times of the year when the sun is at its greatest distance from the celestial equator. The summer solstice in the Northern Hemisphere occurs about June 21, when the sun is in the zenith at the tropic of Cancer; the winter solstice occurs about December 21, when the sun is over the tropic of Capricorn. The summer solstice is the longest day of the year and the winter solstice is the shortest.
2. A highest point or culmination.
On Sunday, November 19, 2005, Rowena del Mundo invited family, friends and co-workers to her Retirement Party at the Sinclair Park Community Club. The place was elegantly decorated by Party Planner, Kelly, who happens to be Rowena’s step-daughter.
The tables were covered with white cloth and adorned with red napkins and red roses. Bottles of white wine were placed and white candles were lit on every table.
The host and celebrant was dressed in a red satin gown with black embroidery. A sheer black shawl draped her shoulders. She looked radiant and beautiful that night.
Reggie’s Sextet provided the music for the first hour while guests started to arrive. The group played the following jazz tunes:
1. The Way You Look Tonight
2. Autumn Leaves
3. Someday My Prince Will Come
6. If I Were A Bell
7. Blue Train
8. Lover Man
9. Au Privare
Charito, the emcee, welcomed everyone and called the important people in Rowena’s life to come forward and sit at the front table. Kelly and Terry, Cory and son, Inay Tentay and Auntie Marina. Everybody stood up when Rowena and husband Mel walked to the front to their seats.
The jazz band was thanked and introduced. Reggie on Flute, Clay on Alto Saxophone, Iian on Tenor Saxophone, Garrett on Piano, Graham on Bass and Jeff on Drums. Then they played an encore of The Way You Look Tonight.
Side A Music then took over.
Once everybody had partaken of the many delicious food, Charito invited Rowena’s co-workers to the front to say a few words about the celebrant.
Cecile wished Rowena a Happy Retirement. She also said, “You’re beautiful tonight. I like your gown.”
Nestor said, “Rowena is a very nice person.”
Fatima, Nestor’s wife, also wished Rowena “Happy Retirement.”
Elaine said, “One thing I like about her as a friend and as a co-worker is that she never holds grudges. She’s so kind. She’s full of life. She always has a lot of positive thoughts.” She added, “She’s like a mother to me and to my husband ‘coz she’s always giving us lots of advices.”
Maria seconded what Cecile said, “You look beautiful tonight. You’re so lovely.” She continued, “Rowena is a loving, kind and a cheerful person. I think even when she’s angry, she’s always smiling. She always has a cheerful face so when you’re around her you feel cheerful, too.”
Talits claimed, “I was the bridge between Mel and Rowena.” She disclosed, “Like normal people we had our moods. Once we had a misunderstanding. However she is like a child. She never holds grudges. We were able to patch it up and we became again like sisters like before. She had an innocence of a child and an angel.” Talits got choked up.
Charito said, “Mel, you’re lucky. Because you have a wonderful lady in red.” She added, “Rowena, you know the symbol happy face? That symbol reminds me of Rowena. I’ve never seen her with a long face. She’s always happy. She’s always in a good mood.”
I, Catherine, said, “I’ve already shared this tribute to Rowena and I thought I’d share it with you so that you’ll understand what kind of person she really is.
Rowena is a very dear friend of mine. We’ve worked together in the Alberta unit for about five years. We also have a special bond because she’s one of the godmothers of my youngest son.
I first met her in May 1996 when I started working at Great West Life. We trained together as benefits examiners. Before that she worked in the Toronto BPO. After five years in Toronto, she moved to Winnipeg and worked as a preprocessor.
At first, I thought that her name was Norweena because of the way Pat, our Trainor, pronounced her name. I didn’t know that here in Canada, they say Rowena (Ro-wee-nah) differently than we do in the Philippines, which is Ro-weh-na. I was very glad when I learned that I was training at the Claims Centre with a fellow Filipino. She was very friendly and she introduced me to her other Filipino friends. We always had lunch together at the north end corner of the cafeteria in the old building on Osborne Street.
Rowena’s name, I have learned, could mean either one of the following: 1. red haired or rugged, 2. slender and fair, or 3. fame and happiness. All meanings are appropriate for our very own Rowena.
Rowena has a cheery disposition. It’s not uncommon to find her smiling or laughing. But not the vulgar kind of laughing. You’ll find her throwing her hand over her mouth when she laughs. (At this point of my speech, she did.) She is always the life of the party. And speaking of parties, she’s a very gracious host as well. She comes out as the centre of attention, without her intending it to be. She just exudes gracefulness and elegance.
She likes bright, vivid colours. Her favourite colour is red, as you can see. Red is the symbol of warmth, confidence, bravery, and as the Chinese believe, good luck.
Warmth. She is very warm with her friends and co-workers. Confidence. There is always confidence in the way she walks and the way she dresses. Bravery. A characteristic that is inherent in every Batanguena. She’s from the province of Batangas. Good luck. We used to tease her that she’s like a cat with nine lives. Because how many times had she survived a car accident? (She said, “Six times.”) And how lucky is she to find her Prince Charming, standing over there, after those long years of being single.
Rowena’s plan for retirement is to travel. Lucky girl. So, happy trails to you, my dear friend, my kumare.”
And then I said, “Ryland has something to present to you.”
Ryland came forward and handed her a bunch of roses.
After receiving the roses, Rowena said thank you to all of us. She then gave this speech:
“First of all, I’d like to thank my party coordinator, Kelly and her husband Terry. My financier, my beloved husband, Mel. My very good chef, Richie and all our helpers and runners.
Good evening to all of you.
I thank God our Creator for giving us all a chance to come together this evening. This gathering is a thanksgiving for my 15 years of service in a big company that is Great West Life.
I am proud to have been an employee of one of Canada’s Top 100 Employers and that I have been able to work here for 15 loooong years.
I’d like to thank my co-workers, relatives and friends who are here to join me in this occasion.
I considered (company where we work) as my second home and the staff as my second family.
I said as a second home because even it was time to go home, I was still working. I loved my job as I love my family.
Even my husband Mel would keep phoning me. “Dear, when are you coming home? What time am I picking you up?” I would tell him, “I will call you back when I am ready to go home.” Then he would say, “Supper is ready, waiting for you.” And I would say, “Okay, just put it aside and I will just warm it up when I get home.” Well, now we always have supper together. Isn’t that nice?
I miss my job, especially my friends, co-workers and all the staff of (the Office).
Thank you all and have a pleasant evening. And have fun. And dance, dance, dance.”
Rowena and Mel danced to Lady in Red. And then we all danced the night away.
This post was last updated on July 6, 2008.
… forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us ….
Last week, we celebrated Ryland’s First Reconciliation. Parents, children and families were gathered in the church. First we sang a gathering song to remind us of what we were celebrating. Then Father welcomed us and said a few words. One of the things he said that struck me was that Reconciliation has become a lost Sacrament. He also emphasized the positive role of this sacrament in reconciling personal conflict and healing our relationships. And that’s when I understood why there was a separate celebration for Reconciliation and it wasn’t celebrated together with the First Communion, which Ryland will receive in the Spring.
Father read the Parable of the Lost Sheep according to Luke 15: 1-7. Ryland and the other children have learned this story while preparing for this Sacrament.
Father explained that we were celebrating a communal Reconciliation. He said, “You do not have to say, ‘Forgive me Father for I have sinned. It has been forever since I had my last confession.’ We know that. We won’t give you individual penance. Instead we will sing and pray as a group.”
We recited the Act of Contrition. The children have learned this by heart.
“O God, rich in mercy, I am sorry for all my sins; for what I have done and what I have failed to do. I will sincerely try to do better. Help me to walk by your light. Amen.”
After the Act of Contrition, Father and another priest stood by the altar. We came forward row by row as we do for communion. Parents brought their children to the priest, holding the child’s sheep. (The children made sheep out of cardboard, cotton balls and clothespins.) Parents waited a short distance away. Father leaned over to each child and asked, “What do you want to say ‘I’m sorry’ for to God?” The child then whispered one or two sins into Father’s ear. Father then gave his absolution and the child said, “Thank you, Father.”
The children returned to their parents and are handed their sheep to place on the banner by the altar. Then they went back to their places and took a few moments to thank God for the gift of forgiveness. Parents were also given the chance to have their confession. Hymns were sung while we had our turns.
The children went to the back of the church to get their candles. The catechist helped them light the candles and they brought them in procession to the altar to show that they walk in the light.
We then prayed the Lord’s Prayer.
At the end of the celebration, Father gave us his blessing and said, “Go in peace, your sins have been forgiven.”
And we all said, “Thanks be to God.”
We then continued the celebration of our joy in forgiveness with a feast at the school hall where parents dropped off their dainties (cup cakes, cookies, veggies and dip, cheese and crackers) which was shared by all. Father also joined us and chatted with the parents.
I think this Reconciliation had been a pleasant experience for the children and parents as well.
In one of the parents’ meeting for the Preparation for Reconciliation (see my previous entry The Lost Sacrament and the Lost Sheep), The Parable of the Prodigal Son was read and discussed.
Here is the Parable of the Prodigal Son according to Luke 15: 11-32.
The Parable of the Lost Son
Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.
“Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.
“When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.’ So he got up and went to his father.
“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
“The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
“But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.
“Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’
“The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’
” ‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ ”
The younger son asked for his share of the property. His father was still alive. Usually inheritance is divided among children after one’s death. Just imagine what the father felt when his son asked for his share. Yet he still gave it to him without denouncing him.
The younger son went to a distant country and squandered all his money. He became broke and settled for a job feeding the pigs, the lowest occupation during that time. He was so hungry that he would eat the pods that were fed the pigs, but no one gave him anything. This was the lowest point in his life. He hit rock bottom.
After all this suffering, he came to his senses. This is what we call Repentance. He felt sorry for his sins and he decided to reconcile with his father.
“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him.” This could only mean that his father had all this time hoping and waiting for him to come to his senses and come back home. I think that this is something any parent can relate to.
“He ran to his son, threw his arms around his son and kissed him.” The father couldn’t wait for the son to step at the front door. Instead he ran on the road. Remember the son was “still a long way off when his father saw him.” That’s how happy and excited the father was to see his son come back.
Before the son set out for home, he was ready to work as a slave for his father because that was what he thought he deserved. And yet when the son told his father that he was no longer fit to be called his son, he called the servants and asked them to bring his son the best robe (for he was wearing rags), put a ring on his finger (the ring being a symbol of royalty or authority), and sandals on his feet (for only slaves walked bare-footed). The father had a fattened calf killed and they celebrated with a feast. Because as he said, “he was lost and is found.”
Meanwhile the older son was working in the field when he heard the music and dancing in the house and he asked the servants what was going on. He got angry when he learned that his father was celebrating the return of his son, “this son of yours,” he said, who had squandered his father’s money on prostitutes, while he stayed, worked for him like a slave and never disobeyed his orders. His father had never given him even a young goat so he could feast with his friends. Then he refused to go inside the house. He was now disobeying his father. He sinned against the fourth commandment – You shall honour your father and your mother.
But the father explained, “My son, you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.”
This last part got quite a few reactions from some of the parents at the meeting. Apparently they had experienced this with their siblings and parents. There was this Mom who has four siblings and one sibling was sort of the black sheep in the family. A brother who took his parents’ money, moved away and didn’t contact the family for a long time. But when he came back, his parents welcomed him with open arms. And this brother became the center of attention. Which caused the other siblings to be jealous of the brother. Now they have a grudge against this brother and they have committed one of the seven deadly sins – envy or jealousy. But what can we do if we are thrown in a situation like this? We are humans and we can’t help it if we feel that way. And now that I am a parent myself, I can understand where their parents were coming from. We will accept our children no matter what. This is what parents do. I can imagine the worry their parents had when the brother was away, not knowing how he was and I would just be happy that he came back home healthy and safe.
Of course we know that the father in the parable is Our Father in Heaven who is always ready to accept a repentant sinner. This parable just shows us how great and infinite His Love is for all of us.