A guest post from Jade Vargas-Pulido.
Today I was Facebook chatting with my Mom. We have been doing this for as long as I left home and country to be with my husband.
We would chat about life, and fight about petty things too, like most mothers and daughters do. My Pops would always play referee, and tell us to let the stupid argument go and move on to loving each other.
But tday I found myself shedding a tear through our usual chattiness. Mom was missing Pop. For those last five months I was on my mobile while they were in the hospital trying to hold a united front for us kids. Both of them would not budge until it was time to tell us the awful truth: Papa was terminal.
There were those moments when I would call and hear in Mom’s voice the heartbreak. She kept the pain of losing him to herself and kept a strong loving front when she was facing him. Where in heaven’s mercy did she get that strength?
She would have no sleep at all. No rest from constantly keeping vigil by my father’s side for those four months. She insisted on staying by his side, to take care of the man who had been her whole world for 41 years. Even during those last few days when Papa could not even utter any words at all.
Then Papa passed. So many tears were shed, some of regret, some from birthdays we missed or trips we should have taken. But no words were missed, no love forsaken.
Pops made sure he had left us with enough words that we would take with us to live on without him. Then there was Mom. I had never felt so helpless in my whole life. There was nothing I could do to ease her suffering. How do you comfort someone who had lost the love of her life?
One night during the wake, she pulled me aside. I felt more tears well up as she held out the measly savings that Pop saved for her without our knowing. It wasn’t much, not even enough for Mom to get by on for the rest of her life. My Pop at one point was a slave to the vice of gambling, and lost his almost successful leather goods factory, so from then he had to live a poverty stricken life. But I knew he was saving for Mom’s health insurance, knowing she had real health issues that could kill her. And he had done the impossible: despite his poverty, raising kids, and at the end a fast losing battle with liver cancer, he had saved his meager earnings and for the woman he loved. Papa never held a well paying job. He barely got us to school. He was by all standards a poor working man. Saving for Mom no matter how small was no easy task. But he was still thinking about Mom’s well being, even when he himself was in need.
Pop died last Feb. 6, 2016. After all he and Mom had been through… after all the threatened separation for 42 years. They stuck it through and together found God. He used to be a gambler and died a devout Eucharistic Minister. She is now a Catechist and before his death was active for the Family Life ministry here in Muntinlupa.
They are now my personal relationship goal.
Through the years they would fight, swear to separate, yell at each other and fight some more about who gets which kid. Then they’d make up and would be the picture of marital bliss and happiness once again. This went on and on for 41 years! There would be heart shaped cakes we were never allowed to eat, or inside jokes that left us scratching our heads. The last time they said they were separating about a year before Pops went sick, we left them to their drama, only to find out later they went to the mall without us, on a date!
They were not perfect, just like everyone else. But what I was always sure of even during those dark days when money was scarce and there was hardly any food on the table, was that God was there and He thrives in my parent’s love for us, and more so in their love for each other.
They were the epitome of what poor parents were. They were John and Marsha, sans the Doña Delilah part. We were poor but we were never wanting. And forever funny.
God changed our lives so profoundly one night after my Mom and I had finished praying with an overnight Catholic prayer rally on television some 25 years ago.
My Pop who was just coming home from an overnight gambling party with his friends, suddenly stood in front of our house, confused. He crumpled his new cigarette pack and burst into the house with teary eyes, swearing to my mom that he would never smoke or gamble ever again. I found that funny then. From then on until his last hours while I held his cold hands, he remained true to his word.
Pop had a life changing moment in 1993. He spent those days after which serving the Church Christ built. He gave all he can: time, effort, and most of all his God given talent to make people laugh.
He was most excited when Pope Francis came to the Philippines on January 2015. Weeks before he shone his black shoes. His white uniform and white lapel was ready. He trained through cold rain with hundreds of other Eucharistic Ministers from all over the island to assist the Holy Father. He brought Mom along and made sure Mom would be in a nice safe spot, worried about her fluctuating blood pressure and being in the heat: her knight in shining armor ever. I could not help but smile then at their sweetness even as I grimaced at their faces. Secretly I was so proud.
An unknown nurse told me he remembered Pops as a jolly fellow who would always make the staff laugh with his stories or make the nurses cry as they all witnessed my parents sleeping while holding hands during Pop’s entire hospital stay. One nurse had her belief in love lasting forever reestablished because of them. I too have reestablished my belief in true love after these things happened.
Just goes to show unless there is abuse, marriage is ALWAYS worth the sacrifices, the headaches, the tears, etc. Marriage makes us all whole and better people after all. Mom is never the same now. To think of all the times they wanted to strangle each other then, her mourning now is heartbreaking.
I am still grieving and would forever miss him. I still am pained when my Mom aches for him so, knowing neither I nor my brothers could ever fill that space in her heart. I know no matter how hard we try, my brothers and I have big shoes that we could never fill. I just pray that one day we could do even half of what this poor insignificant man did. But with all the Love he left us, and with the grace and Mercy of the Loving God he served, we will one day.