Posts Tagged ‘grief’

(Note to reader: This is the fourth and last installment of Saranghamnida, Sayonara Papa series. If you’re new to this site,  please scroll down to read the beginning of the story. Thank you.)


We do not have the tightly-knitted bond that other family have. Our family relationship was so peculiar, that I often wondered why we were not having family reunions just like my friends in school does or why I haven’t met my aunts and uncles or grandparents from my father’s side.

I tried asking Ma about it but she would just tell me that Pa’s parents were already dead and his siblings were all over the place that tracking their whereabouts would be difficult.

As a kid, I accepted Ma’s explanation and tried to just shrug it off.

But several years later, I learned that shrugging it off proved to be a mistake. It was like a timed bomb waiting to explode, an accident waiting to happen…


Part 4: You can’t hide your secrets forever…

Maybe the old man thought he could take his deepest secrets with him to the grave when he died but, alas, the secrets didn’t want to be buried.

The past didn’t want to be forgotten and so it decided to meet with the present.

It was on the eve of May 16th when Momma asked me to read and reply to the message on her phone on the affirmation of the arrival of Pa’s ‘relatives’ from Manila in the morning.

But when I read the message, it said “bukas po ng 6am ang dating nila sa airport. Paki-accommodate na lang po sa mga kapatid ko. Kagabi po kinikiliti ni papa ang paa ko, pakisabi po ke papa, mahal na mahal ko siya. (They will arrive in the airport tomorrow at 6am. Please give my sisters proper accommodation. Last night, Papa tickled my toes like he used to. Please tell Papa, I love him so much.)”

I got confused with the message so I asked Momma about it, “who is this?”

Then she replied, “ah, kamag-anak yan ng papa mo (that’s one of your father’s relatives).

But I hit right back, “eh bakit papa ang tawag niya ke papa? Ano ba siya? (but why call him Papa? How is she related to him?)”

She didn’t answer right away so I asked again, “may anak si papa sa labas? Mga anak niya yung darating bukas? (Pa has other sons/daughters? Are those arriving tomorrow Pa’s offsprings?)

My elder sister answered instead, “oo, tatlo silang darating bukas. Hindi makakarating yung iba dahil may trabaho.” (yes, three of them will arrive tomorrow. Others can’t make it because they can’t get out of work)

“Ilan ba silang anak sa labas? Marami pala kami? Alam mo ‘to ate? (How many are Pa’s offsprings out of wedlock? So it’s not the only four of us? You knew about this, sis?)

But Momma said, “lima sila pero matagal na yun, past is past. Gusto lang nila makita sa huling pagkakataon ang papa mo. (five, they just wanted to see your pa for the last time)

I was dumbfounded for a few minutes then I said, “ayokong mag-reply sa message na ‘yan. Wag nyo rin ako piliting makipag-usap sa kanila bukas, baka kung ano lang ang masabi kong masama. (I don’t want to reply on that message and please don’t force me to talk with them, I might say something offensive.)

Momma then said, “wag kang ganyan, pilitin mong makitungo ng maayos sa kanila habang nandito sila. We are Christians.” (Please don’t be like that, try to be nice to them while they are here. We are Christians.)

But I didn’t dwell on the subject and chose to just keep quiet.

The most awkward moment

The next day, I learned that Ma and my younger brother went to the airport to fetch my step-sisters.

To while my time, I decided to buy some cleaning materials from a store nearby to clean the floors of the chapel and arrange things to make it more presentable to visitors.

Just when I was starting to mop the floors from spilled coffee and bread crumbs, a taxi stopped outside. Then Ma alighted along with my brother and three women.

And so I thought, “these must be them. So let’s get the show running.”

When they entered the chapel, I didn’t dare greet them nor look at them and continued cleaning the place instead. When they sat down, Ma introduced us to them.

“This is Jane, my eldest,” gesturing to my sister, “these are my grandchildren, the offsprings of my son Dandy, next to eldest. You know Buboy already, my youngest and that’s Robie, the third of the brood,” in respect to my mother, I smiled at their direction but I felt awkward so I didn’t look at them.

Momma might have noticed my indifference and so she continued, “this is D****, D**** and G******,” my sister said hi and my brother smiled at them while I remained silent, still cleaning the dirty floors.

“How was your flight? Were you able to get some sleep? Hindi ba kayo nahirapan?” Ma continued chatting with them but I tuned them out.

Why are they here? I thought. If they hated us for thinking we made Pa stay away from them, then why come here? Why now?

I learned from my sister Jane that she knew of them way back in the year 2000 when she underwent training in Manila.

Jane said, “while I was waiting for my training to finish, I stayed at a boarding house in Manila. Some girl befriended me, at first I felt crept out by her because she kept staring at me. But then later on, I found out why when she finally talked to me.

“You know, you really look so familiar to me. May I ask where you came from?” the girl asked.

“Oh, I’m from Davao City,” my sister replied.

“Really?” she asked, eyes lit with curiosity, “my Uncle is in Davao now, he’s a seafarer,” she said.

“Oh yeah? My Father is a seafarer, too. Maybe they know each other,” my sister said.

“Maybe. I’ll show you my uncle’s picture the next time we see each other,” the girl said.

When they met the next day, the girl immediately showed her the picture of her ‘uncle’ “hey, Jane, this is my Uncle, the one I told you about.”

My sister took the picture from her to look at it closely and then frowned, “that’s my father,” she told the girl while pointing at the picture she held.

“What?” the girl asked, looking confused.

“I said, that guy in the picture you were telling me about is my father. Why do you have his picture? Are we somehow related?” my sister asked.

But the girl didn’t respond. She abruptly stood up and whispered, “anliit talaga ng mundo, (the world is really small)” then she cried.

“I wanted to ask her why she cried but I didn’t get the chance seeing she was so distraught,” my sister told me. “When Pa came to visit me in Manila, it was then that I knew why she cried when she learned her ‘uncle’ was also my father.”

My sister recounted that time, saying “when Pa’s ship docked in Manila, he came to my boarding house to check on my training. While we were talking, the girl from before arrived.

When she saw Pa, she went to him and kissed his hand. But Pa didn’t look at her or even acknowledge her presence so she immediately left.

I wondered what it was all about. I tried asking Pa, but he was tight-lipped as usual and even though he refused to answer my question, I already had a hunch about what it was.

“I think the most painful time of revelation happened to our brother, Dandy,” my sister continued. “He was in college studying Maritime Engineering when he learned Pa had other family. I think it was the first day of class when the Professor asked for his name.”

“How are you related to Merchant Officer Rogelio Demelletes?” the Professor asked to which my brother replied, “He’s my father, sir.”

“Really? Sa unang pamilya o sa ikalawa? (from the first family or the second?)” the professor asked again.

“I didn’t know how he reacted to that but he said he got really embarrassed and mad at the same time upon learning about it from his Professor, of all people. And so he got drunk that night and went home, shouting outside our house, challenging Pa to a fistfight,” my sister recounted.

When I heard it, I thought, so that was it all about. I wasn’t staying at home when that happened and just knew about it when Ma told me. I understood now why my brother was so rebellious when he was young!

“Buboy, didn’t know it until they contacted him via Facebook,” my sister revealed. “They knew everything about us, who we are and when were we born. They scoured available information, researched anyone who has the same surname as theirs and talked to any person who might know something about us,” she said.

“They even knew Pa’s illness and would call at home to check on him. They said, the last time they saw Pa was thirteen years ago.”

Upon hearing that, I remembered the time a certain D** and G***** calling our house phone looking for Pa. I asked Ma who they were but she was being niggardly and would just tell me that they’re Pa’s nieces. I even remembered the time when Ma asked me on how I will react if Pa has another family.

“They hated us, you know,” my sister continued, “they thought sinira natin ang pamilya nila at inagaw natin sa kanila si Papa,” (they hated us, you know, they thought we wrecked their family and we stole Pa from them.)

The other party confirmed this when one of them talked with Jane along with a friend that night. D**** admitted they were in full battle mode when they came here but was surprised with the kind of reception they got from the family.

They said Momma was very hospitable, always asking about their needs and made them feel comfortable despite the situation’s awkwardness since it was the first meeting of both families.

“Walang dapat sisihin sa nangyari kundi ang may katawan. Pareho lang tayong biktima ng deception, (no one should be blamed for what happened but the man himself. Both families were just victims of his deception)” they said.

I agree. It’s hardly fair for anyone to be blamed on the matter. His relatives in Davao also claimed Pa didn’t tell them he already had a family before he resided in Mindanao.

Questions on why, when and how our Father did it linger in our minds but these will remain unanswered since the man who is supposed to speak, is now forever holding his peace.

I thought things like this only happen in soap operas and films, but now I realize that scenes depicted in the screen also happens in reality, with all its exaggeration. My college theater professor said once, art is the imitation of life and reel life is mirrored from real life.

I am not ashamed of telling everyone about this, and I didn’t write it to spoil my father’s memory. How many people out there are products of a broken family? A child borne out of wedlock? Couples who broke up because of a liar and cheating partner?

We are not alone. Ours isn’t an isolated case. Pa might not be the best father one can have, but he is still our father who, I believe, loved us in his own way. It happened so fuming about it won’t lead you somewhere but acceptance and letting go of despair.

I believe that everything happens and exists for a reason; God sees the master plan and He holds the future in His hands.

If you don’t understand some things that are happening now, just believe and trust in the Lord, for He will show it to you, someday, somehow.

As I close this chapter of the story, I am going to look forward and begin a new leaf in my life. I hope I imparted a message that will remain in you for as long as it will take.

Do what you can do today, for tomorrow might be too late.


Author’s note: This is the last installment of the series of events that took place on that fateful day. I wrote about it as my way of coping with loss and grief and to impart a message to everyone who will be reading it on the importance of life, family, communication and health. Their names were not revealed in this article in respect to their privacy. We may have a complicated situation but I respect them as a person. Thank you for following and reading my blog as I shared my thoughts and feelings on the matter.


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(This is Part 2 of Saranghamnida, Sayonara Papa series. If you’re new to this site,  please scroll down to read the first part of the story. Thank you.)


Whenever I hear the song “Dance with my Father” by Luther Vandross, it never fails to bring tears in my eyes as I remember my Pa.

He passed away last May 12, 2013 at 6:10 in the evening but he was pronounced dead at 6:30PM after succumbing to heart attack due to enlargement of the valves, blocked arteries and pulmonary edema.

At that time, I was in Davao City busy preparing for May 13 Midterm Elections when I received a call from my sister Jane informing me of his demise.

While I was busy browsing the internet sites on election-related materials, Pa was already fighting for his life. I could have been there for Pa, for them. I could have held his hand while he was still alive.

Part 2: With a heavy heart

Fearing for my Ma’s emotional state, I tried to lighten up the situation and told a joke about Pa.

“Maybe, when we go to the morgue, he would suddenly spring up and say “joke lang! Practice lang!” just like in the movies!” I chuckled.

“Yeah, just like in the movies,” I repeated. My brother just smiled at my lame attempt of joke while my Ma stayed stoic.

I smiled back but gripped my emotions tighter. I didn’t want to cry but a few traitorous tears escaped. If this was a movie, the director would have shouted “cut!” already for my badly delivered line.

But no, this wasn’t a movie at all, nor a nightmare that has a chance to be erased from memory once I wake up.

After a while, the people from our commissioned Funeral Home arrived in the hospital to retrieve the body.

Ma was crying non-stop when we accompanied the body on its way to Panabo City where he will be embalmed and dressed for his wake.

When we reached the St. Peter’s Chapel, his remains were carried to the embalming room by the staff then they gave us time alone with Pa.

I am not a squeamish person save for a dead man’s body. I can’t stand looking at their wrinkled and pale skin, but when Ma reached and pulled the blanket that was covering Pa, I immediately started crying. The defenses I built inside easily crumbled at his sight and the dam of tears broke down.

I reached out and held his hand. I didn’t care if he’s dead or if his skin was slightly cold to the touch… All I wanted was to hold him and tell him that I’m sorry for being away for so long, for trying to avoid him even though I miss him a lot and for not telling him how worried I was whenever he was rushed to the hospital.

My tears went rolling down one after the other as I stared at his brown eyes I envied so much but were now glassy as he gave up the ghost. Seeing him bit his lip with his head slightly bent upward seemed he was trying to take his much needed breath but his body won’t let him get it anymore.

It must have been a very painful time for him when he was having a cardiac arrest because his fists were slighly clenched and he wore a pained expression until his last breath. He must have been crying while he was fighting futilely for his life because of the crust of dried tears on both sides of his eyes.

As I stared at Pa’s face, my Ma said, “nagkita rin kayo, Gie. Nagkita rin kayo ng anak mong matagal mo nang hinahanap. Hindi mo na siya nahintay, alam mo namang uuwi siya pagkatapos ng eleksyon. (You finally saw each other, Gie. You finally saw your daughter you’ve been asking for a long time. You didn’t wait for her when you knew she would be coming home after the elections.)”

My heart felt like it was squeezed and stabbed in a million ways upon hearing this and I held his cold hands a little bit tighter.

I am not the kind of person who easily say sorry but at that moment, I’ve never felt sorrier than ever. I am so sorry, Papang. I am so sorry. Can you hear me? Can you still forgive me? I am very sorry, Pa. I kept on repeating in my head.

“Ge, salamat sa Dios at pinagpahinga ka na niya after a long time of battling your sickness. Alam kong hindi ka namin dapat iyakan ngayong wala ka na pero tao din naman kami, nakakaramdam din ng sakit ng damdamin dahil mahal ka namin. Umalis ka nang hindi man lang nagpapaalam. (Gie, I thank God for letting you rest after a long time battling your sickness. I know we are not supposed to cry and be sad of your demise but we are still human, able to feel hurt, loss and bereft because we love you. You left without even saying goodbye.)”

“Hindi mo naman siguro ako masusumbatan na hindi kita inalagaan ng maayos. (You can’t probably say that I didn’t take care for you when you were still alive) Ours was not a perfect union, we had our sets of ups and downs and quarrels but it was worthwhile. Thank you for the 35 years you shared with me and our kids. We now let you go to be with our Father. Until we meet again.”

Ma said these words while caressing Pa’s face and hands, trying to arrange his rumpled clothes and comfortably placed the blanket over his body.

I just stood beside Pa, crying so hard and overwhelmed with regret for the lost times and opportunity to be with him.

I held his hands tighter  and gazed down at his face knowing it would be my last chance to do so and see him that way… still in his day clothes, his body complete, sans of makeup and the smell of formaldehyde they will put on him once he gets embalmed.

We stayed like that for a few moments, Ma silently caressing Pa while I stood there contemplating on how horribly I behaved toward my estranged Pa.

It was a while before we were interrupted by the newcomers led by my sister, Jane, her friend Bing-bing, and Buboy along with my Aunt Maritha, my niece and nephew.

It was past midnight when we got home. The embalmer said we shoud go get some rest since Pa wouldn’t be embalmed until early in the morrow.

I told Ma I have to get back to Davao City to finish my task for the election and then come back right after the coverage. I know I should be with them at this bleak moment in our lives but duty has to come first.

I pushed Ma to get some rest for I didn’t want her dwelling at a sad moment fearing for her health. When everyone at home was asleep, it was then that I unleashed my barely concealed emotions.

My tears went down faster than Japan’s bullet train, I unloaded the heaviness within my heart and sobbed hard. I tried quieting it down so as not to wake them up but I wasn’t sure if I suceeded.

I cried for few moments thinking about all the missed chances. I should have gone home straight from the airport to see how Pa was doing. I should have called and told him to wait for me as I come home… I should have told him to get better so I can bring him with me in Manila… So we can go to the sea and catch some fishes or cook for him and eat his favorite food…

All these thoughts, the what ifs, should have and could have been’s swirled in my mind but I willed it to stop. It won’t do me any good since Pa is now gone.

So I squared my shoulders and told myself:  Now is not the time to breakdown. Your family needs you. Be brave, keep calm and keep a good head upon your shoulders.

And that’s what I did.


Author’s note: This is the second part of the series of events that took place on that fateful day. I am going to write about it as my way of coping with loss and grief and to impart a message to everyone who will be reading it on the importance of life, family, communication and health. The next part will be uploaded in my blog as soon as I can. Thank you.

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Whenever I hear the song “Dance with my Father” by Luther Vandross, it never fails to bring tears in my eyes as I remember my Pa.

He passed away last May 12, 2013 at 6:10 in the evening but he was pronounced dead at 6:30PM after succumbing to heart attack due to enlargement of the valves, blocked arteries and pulmonary edema.

The medical staff tried to revive him but his heart and body did not respond anymore. He was 67.

At that time, I was in Davao City busy preparing for May 13 Midterm Elections when I received a call from my sister Jane informing me of his demise.

The initial reaction I felt was shock followed by overwhelming regret and loss.

Shocked, because I was told he was doing okay after discharging from the hospital days ago;

Overwhelming regret, loss and the feeling of bereft, because I wasn’t able to see and talk to him for the last time after being apart for so many years.

Upon hearing the news, I immediately dropped everything at hand and rushed to the Amosup Hospital where my Momma and younger brother, Buboy was.

When I got to the hospital, I immediately saw them huddled together at the waiting area, silently crying and mourning for the sudden loss of our padre de pamilya.

I slowly trudged forward and carefully sat down between them and asked, “where is Pa?”

Momma replied, “He’s at the morgue. Do you want to see him?”

Do I want to see him? Yes. So much that I wanted to rip the doors down, hug him, cry my heart out and tell him that I’m so very sorry for staying away for so long.

But I refrained from doing so. Pa is already gone and staying with Ma is much more important since she also has a heart problem and could breakdown any time.

After a few moments, I asked, “what happened?”

Ma said, “I don’t know. He was doing okay before I left. He said he wanted to eat lugaw [congee] without recados so I went out to buy it for him.

“He said he wanted to eat lugaw pero hindi na pala niya kakainin… [but he won’t be able to eat it anymore]” Ma kept on saying while crying so I shushed her and asked my brother instead.

“Pa was doing okay when Ma went out. After a few minutes, he asked me to go to the Nurse’s station to tell them to adjust his oxygen levels.

But when I came back, he was already struggling for breath. I called for help and the Hospital staff immediately rushed to the room. They tried to revive him for a few minutes but failed.”

“I was there the whole time, watching and hoping that Pa survive the attack but it was in vain.”

Then Ma said, “he was doing okay after he was discharged from the hospital two days ago, but this morning, I woke up to him tossing and turning in bed.

I asked him what’s the matter and he said, he can’t sleep and was having difficulty breathing.

When I held his hand, it felt too cold and he was looking so ashen that I got scared and told him that we get to the hospital immediately.”

But he declined so Momma instead massaged his joints and reflex points to keep his blood flowing, placed a blanket on him, adjusted his pillow and made him sit up so he could breath easily.

“After a few minutes, his temperature gradually went back to normal. I tried very hard not to show him how afraid I was while tending to him so he won’t feel burdened and clam up.

A few more minutes, his breathing got normal and he was able to sleep,” Ma recounted.

“He woke up after a few hours and told me to bring him to the hospital. When I asked him what’s bothering him he said he’s fine, he just wanted to be able to breath more easily through hospital equipment.

And so we checked-in the hospital around 1:00PM and he was promptly given a room and medical attention. The nurses said his vital signs were normal and his blood pressure and sugar levels were okay. I never really thought he would be gone,”  she said.

“When I returned in the hospital, naabutan ko pa nire-revive ang Papa mo pero hindi na ako pumasok. I was very scared he won’t be able to make it so I stayed outside his room and prayed. I never really expected for him to be gone today. He didn’t say anything kung anong masakit sa kanya,” Ma said.

“When he was pronounced dead, I touched him and he still felt warm. I never really thought he would would die since he was doing so fine today. The last time he was in the Intensive Care Unit, his condition was far worse then than today but he was able to survive it,” Ma told me.

Upon hearing their accounts on what happened minutes before Pa died, my heart wanted to burst.

While I was laughing to something my friend said over the phone, while I was busy browsing the internet sites on election-related materials, Pa was already fighting for his life.

I could have been there for Pa, for them. I could have held his hand while he was still alive.

The last time I heard he was in the hospital, I remember asking God in my prayers to cure him, if not, maybe He could let Pa rest from his long-time battle against his sickness.

I never thought God will hear me and grant my request promptly.

On that moment, I realized a lot of things. Among them are four things:
First was being careful with what you wish for in life;
second, do what you can do today for tomorrow might be too late;
third, tell your love ones you love them everyday and
fourth, you really never know what you have until you lost it.

These are adages as old as time but rings true every time.


Author’s note: This is the first part of the series of events that took place on that fateful day. I am going to write about it as my way of coping with loss and grief and to impart a message to everyone who will be reading it on the importance of life, family, communication and health. The next part will be uploaded in my blog as soon as I can. Thank you.

Robierose is currently working as a Writer for UNTV but writes about almost anything in her spare time. She also does proofreading and copy writing, accessory designing, painting, and interior D-I-Y among other things that she considers a hobby.

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