Saturday, January 02, 2021

The Year that Almost Brought Everybody Down


 Many are too glad that the year 2020 is gone. Why not? It brought the economy down taking with it many households.  Hard hit were those hand-to-mouth families who depended their day's existence on their daily earnings.  Many businesses have been affected as a result of the government's lockdown policy to stop the spread of the pandemic that is affecting the entire world.  Everybody had to learn how to start working at home, schools have been closed for almost a year and it seems like studying off campus phenomenon shall continue for the last half of the school year.  

The year that was started with a bang!  I was in Tagaytay on January 11, 2020 for a plein-air session with my watercolor group as we celebrated a post- Christmas party. We were all in jubilee as we painted the scenery not knowing that it would be the last time Taal would be seen that way.  It exploded the following day as it spewed ash to as high as 14 kilometers or so.  People from villages affected by the explosion were evacuated by the thousands.  Massive ash fall dropped from the sky affecting nearby regions including Manila which is almost a 100 kilometers away.  Everybody was advised to wear face masks to prevent from breathing those toxic fumes.  Unbeknownst to everybody, wearing masks shall be a standard protection together with a face shield to ward off the intrusion of what is now called Covid-19, a  deadly  virus that affects the whole world.

My family has not been spared by the tragedies brought about by the year 2020.  On May 3, my only brother, Reynaldo, was cooking chicharon when he accidentally dropped the pot of scalding hot oil on his legs.  He was immediately given an ointment by my nephew, Dr. Manny Glorioso, with instructions never to touch the blisters. I have not personally seen how bad it was for I was locked up in the house like everybody else.  A few days later, I was told that the blisters turned into a nasty wound as it exploded while he was taking a bath.  One day, he was going down the stairs when, probably because of weakness brought about by the wound, he fell down the stairs. He must've slightly hit his head which turned out to be fatal as the x-ray showed that there was blood clotting in his head.  I say again, he slightly hit his head but considering his age, it was fatal. Two days in the hospital and he unceremoniously passed away.  He was ordered to be cremated the following day as he was proclaimed to be a Person under Investigation, but the test results for Covid was still to come after several months.  This is the part which hurt me most.  He had cancer and he knew he would die and was foreseeing himself being survived at a wake in our house should the time of his death arrived.  He had many friends and he wanted  to be  with them for the last time.  It never materialized.  When we got him from the hospital, all we did was pay the for the expenses and immediately ordered to have the body removed as they did not have a space to store my brother  in.  He was cremated with nobody in attendance. The urn that contained his ashes were put was picked up by my nephews and brought home the following day.  He was seventy-seven. 

Almost three months have passed when we received news that my Ate Becky was throwing up blood and her stool also showed blood  since Saturday.  We were having lunch on July 27 when we received the news.. A few minutes later, they called us again saying my sister is gone. I cannot believe it! I told Nitz, my wife, not to believe it until it was confirmed by her son. I called him and he said it was true.  This was all too sudden.  Nobody knew she was ill.  All they can tell me is that my sister was suffering from ulcer.  When my doctor nephew asked how my sister behaved that day, they told him that my sister did not know what to do. She would lie down, stand up, walked, sit down and lie down again while writhing  in pain.  Dr. Manny said it couldn't be ulcer anymore as she could not have managed to stand and much more walk to and fro if it were ulcer.  He suspected that her ulcer erupted and the acid went directly to her pancreas which was really deadly.  True enough, when the  coroner arrived, she was declared dead by, I forgot the term, but something like peptic ulcer.  As my sister has died inside the house, she was not suspected to have Covid and so we were able to have a three day wake for her before she was finally brought to the crematorium to be cremated. 

To this day, I could not believe that two of my siblings passed away in the same year with only less than three months apart.  Now, there is only the eldest, Linda, which is eighty three years old and myself, the youngest, who are still alive.  Hopefully, we still get to enjoy my sister's company for a longer period of time. 

On the night of November 25, I was getting ready for dinner when Nitz's phone rang! She was in the kitchen cooking so I looked at the phone to check who it was.  It was my daughter, Kim. I picked it up and answered and to my surprise, she was crying intensely.  The thing that came to my mind was that she got into a fight with her husband.  I calmly asked her what happened and in between sobs, she said that her Tita Angie, Nitz' youngest sister who lived in Saipan,  was gone! I was on speaker phone and Nitz heard the news and began to cry!  It turned out that she had a massive heart attack.  Bhiya, Kuya Ben's sister lived with her in Saipan narrated that Angie went home ahead of her and that she had several grocery bags with her.  As they lived at the third floor of the building, Bhiya told her not to take the groceries to the house, leave it on the floor, wait for her so that they could bring them up together. Angie did not take heed.  She brought them up just the same as they were not there when Bhiya arrived. So she went upstairs only to be greeted by Angie sprawled on the floor.  She probably just had a bath as she had here towel with her.  She was already gone.  The paramedics of 9-11 could no longer revive her. 

She was very fond of my grandson, Kauai! She would call Kim practically everyday to see Kauai, talk to him and always be amused by his antics.  She would also send money to Nitz saying we can only battle the pandemic by eating good food. So every time she  received  money, she would send us some dollars much to enjoyment of Nitz.  She would distribute this money to her other siblings so that they can share with the blessings unselfishly given by Angie.  This happened more this year like as if Angie had a premonition that she was going away for good.  Her remains were brought home and we managed to have a wake for her at a chapel and had  her buried at the Loyola Memorial Park in Marikina.  

So, there! These were the tragedies that my family experienced during the pandemic.  And their deaths were not even brought about by the dreaded disease. 

The only consolation I have with 2020 is that this is the year that I have been constantly selling my artworks.  Thanks to a gallery, The Good Art gallery, my paintings have been selling for a good price plus I have been receiving good commissions lately.  If this continues, I may establish my name as an artist and would continue to at least have an income in spite of having retired from the workforce.  Hopefully it will be smooth sailing this year and the years to come.  

So, in spite of all the negativity of the past year, from my family to yours, here's wishing you all a safe, healthy, covid-free but a very very happy, productive year ahead!