Reminiscences: Enjoying Growing Old

Maybe he’s beginning to realize and appreciate the wonders of blogging when he guest (or ghost) blogged two weeks ago.

Maybe he’s regretting being born too soon or dying too soon, just when blogging was becoming popular.

Maybe he wants us to return to the old house to live with his spirit.

Maybe he just wants to be remembered.

Whatever the reason, my dead grandfather is making his presence felt once more. Well, Dead Lolo, if you need a medium to write your afterlife thoughts, I’m always willing. Let’s discuss my terms and conditions in Dreamland sometime.

I dreamed of him again the other night. We were in Hong Kong with my mom. He was wearing a plaid shirt (I think it was red). I think we went to Disneyland and then we took a long walk in Nathan Road. He grew so tired of walking that he died right there. My mom and I searched for a funeral home and when we found one, we left my grandpa’s dead body slumped on a sofa while we talked to the funeral attendant about the arrangements. Come to think of it, the funeral home looked like the Fishers’.

I wonder why he died (again) due to exhaustion in my dream.  He loved to walk. He used to walk to church everyday at 6am. He’d always be back home between 6:30-6:45am, just in time for us to eat breakfast together before my siblings and I went to school. That’s almost every single weekday, from my prep school to high school years. I also remember eating tuyo (dried fish) and fried rice almost every morning that he used to call me Ms. Tuyo.  

He was such a joker, too. I was in first grade and my classmates used to call me up at home (I wonder what we chatted about then). When he would answer the call that was meant for me, he would pretend to be the house help and would call out to me in an exaggerated volume of voice to ensure that the caller would hear: “Senorita M., telephone po!” Sometimes, he would even feign terror, suggesting to my classmates that I was a diva. 

In school, rumors were abound that I was a primadonna and that I came from a wealthy family. I was so mortified and I would try to dispel the rumors to no avail. My grandfather’s visit to my school reinforced my classmates belief. One day, he just walked into our school and sat with me and some of my classmates during recess, to the helpless surprise of my teacher. He told embellished stories about me, how I was the boss at home, how I traveled to the US, etc. My denials were futile.  Who would the gullible first graders believe? A charming elderly or another gullible little colleague? After that, my teacher told me to tell my grandfather not to return. Outsiders were not allowed in the school area. To this day, I still can’t imagine how he talked the security guard into letting him in the premises.

Dreaming and thinking about him brings about an onslaught of fond memories. ‘Nuff said.

Anyway, here’s another one of his writings.

 ***

“Enjoying Growing Old” by Cornelio dela Rosa, September 26, 1997

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”

The first time I saw those words flashed on a Jersey City TV, Juan Tamad (Juan/John the Lazy) instantly loomed big in my mind. I saw him lying on his “papag” under a mango tree, eyes half-closed, luxuriating in his idle dreams.

But after a moment’s reflection, I summarily dismissed Juan Tamad from my mind. Surely the likes of him never crossed the author’s thoughts when he enunciated the foregoing philosophy.

Achiever-dreamers! Personified by crusaders, they inspired and motivated the author in making his own pronouncement. I salute them!

Our own Jose Rizal had a dream. He believed in the beauty of his dream. So did Ninoy Aquino and both paid dearly with their lives in the pursuit of their beautiful dreams.

In our history, Jose Rizal and Ninoy Aquino belong to the ages.

Now let me wander from the somber and the heroic to the lighthearted and the romantic as I leisurely lose my spirit to reverie…

The sound of music like Molina’s “Hating-gabi” or Foster’s “Beautiful Dreamer” enchants one’s lonely musing heart, and presto! One hears a serenade to yesteryears played on the violin with muted strings by grandson Francis.

Before one realizes it, one finds oneself strolling in the sampaguita-strewn path of memory lane.

Thus spellbound, I shall randomly sketch a la Amorsolo vignette from my “panorama of pictures that we call memory”.

Here is this pretty Indonesian girl who worked in the office of her country’s commercial attaché. I never knew her name, but every time we met in the hallway, she would, with a naughty look in her eyes, cheerfully greet me, “You have made my day!” (Pretty girl, thank you also for making my day!)

Again I say I never knew this pretty Indonesian girl’s name. Perhaps my women officemates during their “chica-chicas” gabfest at lunch break told her about me.

The head of our company nicknamed me “Father Confessor” of our women employees. By something I can neither name nor explain, they were good and sweet to me (no sexual harassment here, wise guy). They came to me with their problems and other grievances. More often than not, through my recommendations, their problems were solved and their grievances given redress by the boss.

One pleasant morning, the youngest and the prettiest of our women staff came to my table and seated herself in my visitor’s chair. Then coyly looking at me in the eye, startled me: “Please ‘naman’ write to me a love letter.” (Naughty one, love is precious and should not be taken lightly).

In high school, I was an avid reader of stories of the adventurous and romantic days, when knighthood was in flower. Sabatini was a favorite author.

One day m dull office routine suddenly perked up when the chance of a lifetime for erstwhile a young man’s dream of emulating a knight in shining armor rescuing a damsel in distress came. The distressed damsel was a good-natured staff secretary who after reading a letter she just received, burst into tears and hysterically sobbed a la opera’s “Lucia”, hid in the restroom, wailing and bemoaning her tragic fate and wishing herself dead. The women staff tried to console her but to no avail.

Chivalry and the eager-beaver knight in me beckoned and I responded readily. Quietly, I entered the restroom. Our disconsolate maiden was seated in one corner, her head buried between her knees still weeping and cursing her truant Romeo.

Gently, I helped her stand and after a few meaningful moments, and of course after she had powdered her nose, we came out.  She was all smiles again.

They kept asking what I said or did to her to rescue the distressed secretary. My answer: I don’t remember. “Ikaw na ang mag- ‘Father Confessor!’”

To Miss Brokenhearted: “It takes both rain and sunshine to make a rainbow.”

One late afternoon, while browsing at the religious items at Alemars, I felt a gentle nudge on my back. Turning around, the smiling face of a smartly dressed woman met my eyes. She said hello and in a jiffy I felt her nestling by my side. She tried to make talk but I didn’t mind her until she took my hand and said, “Let’s see a movie.”

Scared, I scampered out and lost myself in the avenue crowd. I suspected she had a male accomplice waiting for her cue. Whew!

It was Japanese time, as most people call, the Japanese Occupation days.

I was rushing to deliver my eldest sister a “bayong-full” of Japanese paper money, the proceeds from the sale of her long cherished piano.

In my eagerness and haste, the precaution that I should avoid Japanese checkpoints, slipped my mind. To the Japanese force, every  male Filipino adult was a potential guerrilla. It was too late when I realized my mental lapse,, I was only forty or so meters away from the sentry post, and I saw sure the sentry had already spotted me.

I continued forward and after taking only a few steps, the shrill much feared “Kura!” halted me.  I bowed to the Japanese and he immediately grabbed my “bayong”. Upon seeing its contents, he triumphantly exclaimed “Aha! Dorobo!” No, no, I said weakly. But he continued yelling “Dorobo! Dorobo!” and this attracted the attention of a Spanish woman from the apartment next to the outpost. She and the Japanese seemed to be good friends as they talked in Japanese. One look at my pitiful sight convinced her that I was no “dorobo” and she said so to the guard. They conversed for a few minutes. The specter of Fort Santiago, not to mention the loss of the money brought chills to my spine.

After a few moments, which seemed to me an eternity, I hear the sentry barked, “Go!” I got my “bayong” and sped off.

They say everyone of us has his or her guardian angel. To me, the Spanish woman was my very beautiful angel of God. (Senorita Gracias).

As a young engineer, I was assigned to a bridge construction in Zambales. One mid-morning, I had to go back to my bunkhouse which was adjacent to the quarters of our mechanic and his family unexpectedly.

As I stepped inside, gossiping housewives’ voices from the adjoining room pricked up my ears:

“Napaka-torpe ng ating engineer. Lumalapit na ang palay ayaw pang tukain.”

“Oo nga.” The palay was the winsome daughter of my “casera”.

No, my dear Mrs. Chismosa”, you were wrong. I was not “torpe”.

“I was choosy.”

As the lilting straings of “Beautiful Dreamer” tenderly and gently fade into the scented breeze of “Memory Lane” the “darling image of the Helen of my years” none other than my late dearly beloved bride of fifty six years beckons amidst the dancing shadows and the glowing evening stars.

            Hush…! Look! She is blowing me kisses.

            I began with someone’s philosophy.

            I shall end with my own “profound philosophy”.

            Ageing comes joyfully slow to those who live their beautiful “memories”.

            I am eighty nine years old.

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