He left with a smile. And he made sure I knew that he heard me when I said “I love you Abba!”
My dearest miracle man is now healthy, whole, and singing his heart out in Heaven. I can just imagine the Hebrew conversations you’re having there.
My dearest Tatay, Dr Florencio-Isagani S. Medina, III, passed away today, 10 November, early in the morning Philippine time.
My Abba was a quiet man, but when he spoke he spoke with eloquence, and he spoke when it mattered. He was strict, very strict in fact, but he would spoil us too. He knew exactly when to do it. And when he did treat us, it was treating on a massive scale. He made sure we had everything we wanted. My Abba was a generous man. He was generous not only to his family and friends, he was generous with everything and with everyone – his wife, his children, his brothers and sisters, his in-laws, his friends, his neighbours, his colleagues at work, his students and even the man who sells us taho. He was kind because he knew what it was to live without, how it was to be hungry, and if he could help someone else not go through the pain, he would do what he could.
Abba, I feel so blessed to have been born into your family. I am so proud to be your daughter. I am happy that you are now free from the limitations of your body. But I will miss you so very much, more than I can ever say. Thank you for staying with us for 7 years. Thank you for enduring the difficulties your strokes brought on your body. You knew we needed you. You knew we weren’t ready to not have you with us. Thank you for everything. My heart is so full because you gave to us so beautifully and completely. You made sure we knew we were loved., completely, unconditionally and individually.
I love you forever Abbadabbadoo! I’ll see you later!
In Filipino, we have a word for “big sister” – it is ATE (ah-teh). In several Philippine dialects, it is Manang (mah-nahng). We also have other words for elder sister, according to whether they are eldest, second eldest, third eldest, and so on.
In my mom’s family, there is an Ate, a Ditse, a Sanse and a bunso. My Lolo Osiong and Lola Gening had 8 living children – 4 boys and 4 girls.
The Ate in my mom’s family was my Tita Margie. Tita Margie was, to me, the paragon of all Ate virtues. Without any exaggeration, I’ve always felt that Tita Margie epitomised the perfect “Ate”. She took care of her family. She took care of my Lolo and Lola. She took care of her siblings. She was at least 10 years older than the second eldest girl and she took her role as big sister seriously.
Mom often recalled that her Manang Margie made matching clothes for them, my Tita Migen, my Mom and my Tita Bing. They had pictures of the three of them wearing matching outfits that Tita Margie had sewn for them. Mama always said that Tita Margie always insisted on all of them being turned out well, that she would sew them outfits if they had something important to go to. She was the same with us. She would insist we dressed up properly and dressed appropriately.
Tita Margie started sewing when she was in high school and never really stopped. I remember she would sew clothes for my cousins and me. I remember all the clothes she sewed for me. Her sewing machine and sewing kit were a never-ending bag of surprises and she created magic with needle, thread, cloth and her Singer sewing machine. Once, my brother Aryeh asked for a plane-shaped soft toy and Tita Margie, even though she had never made a toy like that before, gamely took the challenge on. That toy is still at home, in Don Jose, somewhere. Tita Margie always made things to last.
Tita Margie was the constant in my mom’s family…at least to me she was. She was always there for everyone – for her brothers and sisters, for her nieces and nephews. She was the head cheerleader for her family. She was proud of her siblings and their achievements and I know that in her own way, she made sure that her siblings knew that. She let them shine and she helped them shine.
Tita Margie always wanted the best for her family. She was the same with her nieces and nephews. In a way that was uniquely Tita Margie, she encouraged all of us to be the best we could be. She supported us in whatever way she could. She cheered us on but at the same time, if she felt we were behaving in a manner that was less than acceptable, she would tell us, in no uncertain terms. She had rules and she had standards. But she had a way of calling out bad behaviour that only she could. We may not have felt it at the time, but in hindsight, everything she did, she did in love, because, she always wanted what was best for us.
Everything she did, she did because she loved us. Everything she did, she did for her family. Her love for her family was in everything she did, in every word, in every deed, in every stitch, in every treat, in every gift.
I cannot imagine Manila without Tita Margie. I cannot imagine not seeing her cheeky smile and hearing her witty conversation. But at the same time, I am relieved that she is no longer in pain, no longer uncomfortable, no longer struggling to move. I am thankful that she is now healthy and whole, with my Lolo and Lola, with my Uncle Magni, Uncle Franklin and Uncle Wawell. I am thankful that she is now with the Lord. I am thankfully reassured that when the time comes, I will be with her again.
I know I am still grieving. Even though I smile and I laugh at things. My days are still tinged with sadness. But I will be okay.
I have told myself that whatever it was that I wanted to say, whatever it was that I never actually said to my uncle, if I send out in the universe, God will make it possible for my thoughts to reach my uncle. He will know how much he is loved, valued, oh-so-appreciated and respected. The regrets are counterproductive. It is good to acknowledge them, but it won’t be healthy to dwell on them. There is nothing that can be done about the things that I haven’t done. The opportunities have passed and I will have to trust that God will make my good plans and intentions known to Uncle Wawell.
The only way to honour him is to live the life that I am living, the life that he dreamed for me and all his nieces and nephews.