Road Trip

The road hums a wistful song, while the passing trees, powers lines, and scenery plays like an old movie in my hazy field of vision. I am safely buckled in my seat, while we whiz down the interstate. The car’s trunk is loaded, but not nearly as full and cluttered as my mind is.

My daughter and I are going on a road trip.

It is hard to imagine that it was more than 50 years ago now, when my daughter and I went on our first long trip. We went camping in a distant national park, and even though we stayed there only two nights, we packed our car full. We brought almost everything, except the house itself – the propane stove, the tent, the air mattresses, pillows and comforters, folding chair and tables, and even a portable heater.

When I fastened my little girl on her car seat when we embarked on that trip, she mildly protested. It seemed like we stopped on every rest area for a bathroom break, as my daughter claimed she needs to go. But maybe it was just her ploy to get out of her car seat. And yes, she asked a million times, “Are we there yet?”

It was a fun trip though.

It was more than 30 years ago now also, that I took my daughter on another long road trip. We drove for several hours to another nearby state. The car was overloaded with many things, like the electric fan, microwave oven, television, vacuum cleaner, a closet-full of clothes, and my daughter’s big cello. That was when I dropped her off to college.

She was so excited to go to the university and to be on her own. I guess she views it as independence. My heart was heavy all the way through that trip. Even though it was a long drive, I don’t want it to end. For I know that when we reach our destination, I would be leaving her behind and may not see her again for several weeks. Perhaps months. But she has to go and leave the nest, and make a mark of her own in this world. I get that.

Of course she made it through college. And beyond.

Now we’re together again on another road trip. Except that I am not in the driver’s seat anymore. I am just the passenger and my daughter is driving.

She said that I cannot live by myself anymore in our old big house. And I agree, since her mother left for heaven, I am really lost and lonely. She is taking me to a place to be closer to her.

She told me that I don’t need most of my stuff, just the bare essentials. For in the place where we will go, it has everything I need, she said. I don’t need much stuff anyway. The most precious things I used to have, I already lost them.

Funny that people say that my memory is getting bad. That my mind is already playing tricks on me. That I don’t remember things anymore. Like where I placed my glasses or even my dentures. Or who is Mr. or Mrs. so and so, people they say I should know. And yet, why do I remember all these nostalgic memories so vividly?

I know this may be my last road trip. For I can barely walk without any assistance anymore. I cannot even feed myself without spilling food on my lap and all over the floor. And that’s why I am going to this “big house” with all the help available, with some other old forgetful people like me. I hope my daughter will visit me there often.

It’s nice to be on the road again. To feel the wind and the sun on my face again. If only this road trip would not end.

photo taken in some back road in Iowa

(*This short story is written as a fiction. And hopefully will stay as fiction.)

Paalam Kaibigan

 

Alam kong hahantong sa ganito,

Hindi sa dahil hindi ko napagtanto,

Ngunit kahit pilitin ko mang itanggi,

Tuloy pa rin itong mangyayari.

 

Yakapin man kita nang mahigpit,

Hihilagpus ka pa rin sa aking bisig,

At ayaw man kitang bitiwan,

Takda ka pa ring lilisan.

 

Tinangay na nga ba ng kahapon,

O tinalikuran na ng panahon,

At wari bang ako’y iyo nang iniwan,

Sigabo ng aking kalakasan.

 

Habang sa salamin aking pinagmamasdan,

Ang anino na nasa aking harapan,

Anyo at kasagsagan ng kasiglahan,

Ay bakas na lamang ng nakaraan.

 

Ngunit hindi ko dapat ipagluksa,

Kun’di dapat pa ngang ipagsaya,

Kaibigan, minsan nating pinagsamahan,

Kaya’t paalam na, o aking kabataan.

(*thoughts as I hit half century of life; an ode, or maybe a eulogy, to my lost youth)

 

Tag-lagas

Lumalamig na naman ang simoy ng hangin dito sa amin. Tumitingkad na rin ang mga kulay ng mga dahon at nagiging ginintuan at pula. Unti-unti rin silang nalalagas, nalalaglag at kumakalat sa lupa. Dahan-dahang namang kumukupas ang mga luntiang kulay ng damo sa aming paligid.

Lipas na naman ang tag-araw. Hindi magtatagal ay tagginaw na naman. Lilipad na naman at babalut sa kapaligiran ang puting niyebe.

Nakaupo at nakahalukipkip sa isang sulok ng aming tahanan ang aking nanay. Siya ay dumadalaw sa amin dito sa Amerika, at mahigit dalawang buwan na rin siyang namalagi dito. Ito ay pangatlong pagkakataon niyang makarating dito sa aming lugar. Ang unang dalaw niya dito, mga ilang taon na ang nakalilipas, ay sa kalagitnaan ng tag-lamig, dahil gusto raw niyang masaksihan ang niyebe. Ngunit dahil sa sumusuot sa butong ginaw ng tag-lamig dito, ay ayaw na niyang manatili at maranasang muli ang tagginaw.

Dahil na rin siguro sa kanyang edad, ay hindi na siya mahilig mag-lalabas at mamasyal. Pinipili pa niyang umupo sa isang tabi at maiwan na lamang sa loob ng aming bahay. Masaya na siya sa panonood sa kanyang mga apo, o dumungaw sa bintana at magmasid sa kapaligirang mundo na patuloy sa pag-ikot. Maaring maligaya na siya na magbalik tanaw na lamang sa mga kasaysayan ng kanyang buhay.

Lahat ay nagbabago. Walang sinisino.

Malaki na rin ang ipinagbago ng aking ina mula ng ako’y unang tumulak parito sa Amerika. Hukot na ang kanyang tindig. Mahina na ang kanyang mga kamay: mga kamay na minsang panahon ay malalakas sa pag-aaruga sa aking kabataan. Malabo na rin ang kanyang mga mata: mga matang minsa’y kay linaw sa pagbabantay noon sa aking kalikutan. Purol na rin ang kanyang pandinig: mga tengang dati-rati ay matalas na dumidinig ng aking mga iyak at tawag. Mabagal na rin ang kanyang mga hakbang: mga hakbang na noon ay mabibilis sa paghabol sa aking kamusmusan, para ako’y malayo sa panganib.

Pana-panahon lamang ang lahat, ika nga nila. Ang oras ay tumatakbo, hindi naghihintay kaninuman.

Ilang araw pa ay tutulak na muling pabalik sa Pilipinas ang aking nanay, parang ibong manglalakbay na lumilipad patungong timog upang tumakas sa nagbabadyang masungit na taglamig.

Hindi ko alam kung ilang pag-kikita at ilang pag-papaalam pa ang nalalabi sa amin. Panahon lamang ang makapagsasabi. Sana ay nakapagdulot ako ng kasiyahaan bilang isang anak sa aking ina. Ito lamang ang pinaka-matamis na ala-alang maipapabaon ko sa kanya.

Hindi magtatagal ay mauubos at mahuhulog na rin ang lahat ng dahon sa mga puno, at matitira na lamang ay mga hubad na sanga at tangkay nito. Mananatili itong pawang tigang at patay…… hanggang sa panahon ng tag-sibol at muling magsisimula ang panibagong buhay.

(autumn photo from here)

Superman’s Kryptonite

My back is killing me. For the past few days I have this bad back pain that has limited my mobility a lot. Simple chores became an ordeal. Bending is impossible. Putting on my socks is a torture, and tying my shoes is a struggle (if I can only wear flip flops at work!). The other day, my wife has to help me put on my socks. Is this part of getting old? What’s next? Adult diapers?

I have been trying to defy aging. I have been exercising and going to the gym 2-3 times a week. I am still playing basketball with the guys in our church every week (as much as my schedule allows). And few months ago, I ran my first half marathon. I have even been considering running the full marathon, if I can train for it.

Now this. I can’t even walk straight, let alone run.  This made me accept the humbling fact that I am not Superman. I am not invincible. I am not as young as I want to believe I am. I finally realized my own mortality. A simple back pain reduced me to an ageing mortal being. A painful fact to experience and much more painful to accept.

But I will not go down without a fight. I will not bend (as of the moment, I really can’t) without a putting up a battle. I will not surrender without a struggle. Tomorrow, I will be back! (If I have my back back.)

Sinyales ng Pagtanda

Mga sampung (10) palatandaan na ikaw ay tumatanda na:

1. Inilalayo mo ang libro, at kumukunot at sumisimangot ka kapag ikaw ay nag-babasa. Hindi dahil sa mabantot ang libro, kailangan mo lang ng salamin.

2. Kasama na sa mga “beauty rituals” mo ngayon ay ang pag-titina ng buhok. Gawin mo kayang blonde?

3. Kapag nag-kukwentuhan ang lagi mong pinagyayabang ay “nuong kapanahunan ko……….”.

4. Ang dati mong paboritong artista ay kung hindi retired na, ay  ngayon ay nasa gobyerno na.

5. Hinahabol mo ang iyong hininga pagkatapos mong tumayo sa pagkakaupo.

6. Hindi ka payagan na lagyan ng tamang bilang ng kandila ang iyong cake, at baka magkasunog.

7. Nagiging makakalimutin at ulianin ka na. Ano kamo?

8.

9.

10.

(Parang may nakalimutan ako……..)