PARADOXICAL

The faith chronicles

Monday, March 10, 2014

 

Lent 2014 reflections: Day 7: Neglect of answered prayers I didn't ask for

Let me extend yesterday's thought by focusing on blessings we hardly ever consider. In my case, there's far too many.

When Glorietta Mall was bombed, or exploded, I should have uttered thanksgiving prayers far more than lingering on my shock, fear, and anger. That's because I regularly walked that exact same path and regularly checked out that little bookshop on top of "Ground Zero." I could have been one of the fatalities or the injured that 'fateful day'. Clearly it was not yet my time.

***

Remember those two buses falling off the Skyway and landing on the service road near Bicutan? That's the same service road two of my brothers take night and day almost everyday. In the case of the second incident, my brother actually heard the shuttle bus fall and he and his fellow jeepney passengers were lucky not to be hit directly. The reason was that the traffic lights turned green a few seconds before the shuttle bus fell, and the jeepney they were riding had already moved several meters forward from the site of the catastrophe.

Thank God for blessings I didn't expect. Again, I should be more aware of these things.

***

When my grandmother died recently, everyone in my family was still caught off-guard even though my lola was already 93 years old, way, way past a typical earthly stay. My cousin Ate C. referred to her overstaying status as her super-extra “bonus” years. Her brief hospitalization (around four days, I think), wake (four days) and burial all in all cost, say, Php35K. Even though this is a provincial rate, it is still a big amount to me. My folks lived in a different time when there was no government social security system or any form of guaranteed safety nets. And so we were all amazed when the money trickled in one day at a time, making us wonder where it came from. I, the jobless one, just had to do the grim accounting task.
Aunt E. and children gave 5K, Uncle B1 2K, Aunt P 4K, Uncle B2 2K, Sibling R 5K, Sibling M 3K, neighbors 5K, and these are only those I knew of. The rest was shouldered by my father and mother from the meager savings they have. (And that's not counting all the expenses on transpo and the coming electricity and water bills.)

Additionally, there was a couple of relatives, C., Ate L. and Ate P., who readily lent their hands as runner, cook, dishwasher, etc. when needed. And I shouldn't forget how the local barangay office lent us a huge tent for the yard for people visiting during the wake.
My mother said she had been talking to Lola all along about the expenses, but here’s another amazing thing: when we her children and grandchildren were about to go back to Manila and wherever we needed to return to, her son suddenly won a little amount in the lottery and he distributed his winnings equally to everyone. Lola even gave each of us pocket money as though to thank us for coming!
My grandmother’s death brought me to the realization that I seldom prayed for her side of the family because we were not that close, and besides, they struck me as strange, being non-Catholic and all. But a few days before she got even hospitalized for breathlessness, I couldn’t sleep all night and I didn’t know why. I was forced to pray with all my might for whatever reason God had. Now I know why.
It turns out that my mother and my cousin Ate P. were also unable to sleep the whole night around that time. Precognition?
In the last years of her life, my lola had to be closely cared for like a little child, even though she was mobile and thankfully could do her toilet ablutions without any assistance. But it was a huge burden to my mother nevertheless, for she single-handedly fed her five times a day (including snacks in between meals), prepared warm water for bathing, made sure she had clean clothes to wear and she slept well, and emptied her night-time orinola. She was nearly blind and largely hard of hearing, so seeing her each vacation grope her way around the house was painful. I often averted my eyes, rendering her invisible unless she really turned helpless and I had to go back to reality and assist her. Maybe the mere sight of her reminded me too much of my own mortality, of how I will most likely be when I get old. I resented or envied her that she lived long enough like that and lucky to have a loving, caring daughter in my mother, not to mention a largely respectful bunch of grandchildren in us. In a way, she taught us the meaning of the commandment, “Honor thy father and thy mother.”
My family had many issues with our maternal grandmother and especially with the rest of her family, but as for me, it was quite easy to forgive her and let go of everything because she was basically a good woman and a godly Baptist. Whenever I took her hand to my forehead as a greeting/respectful gesture, she’d say, “God bless you,” particularly when I was about to leave home for Manila. She would also say “Thank you” whenever I assisted her walking the length of the living room from her room and to the dining table and kitchen sink. I’d feel some faint resentment at this habit of hers because, being her grandchild, it goes without saying that I am obliged to look after her in some way, so there’s no need to say thanks. I thoughts thanks is for friends, distant relations, and strangers, but she taught me that it’s okay to say thanks most especially to family members.
What a life! It is inevitably filled with suffering, yes, but also amazing, supernatural mysteries.

May my spiritual eyes remain always open to see what can be easily unseen.

***

There are more of these I'm sure, hidden in the zipped files of my mental archive.



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