Death in the family

Death in the family


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After turning in “The Last Airbender — Part 2” Holy Week was fast coming up, and as a lector/commentator in our parish church I was also caught up in preparations for the many activities, so I decided to lie low for a while. But it was good to note that the Sydney Connection was again coming through, after a brief hiatus (charged to temporary ‘abandonment by the Muses’). Anyway I was also ‘high and dry’ myself, not finding the impetus to write. Before moving on, however, I’d like to express my appreciation for the response I got for the ‘Airbender’ from the daughter of the late Philidore Quingco of DYRM, who was a real journalistic dynamo then — much in the same mold as the late Gerry Olis, who was also one of my media heroes then.

That pretty much sets the tone of this piece: remembering those who have passed on. But this time, it’s really personal — death in the family. On February 2 this year, my mother — Salud Silverio vda. de Bueno, turning a full 96 years of age (born also on Feb. 2, 1915) — finally succumbed to cardio-pulmonary failure. She was the youngest sibling and last of the Silverio clan of Plaridel, Bulacan. With my two brothers and sister, we laid her to rest together with our father, Dr. Jose C. Bueno (deceased earlier back in 1993 at Veterans Memorial Hospital in Quezon City) at the Loyola Memorial in Marikina. Many relatives from both sides of the equation came to pay their respects; including those from as far as Dumaguete (my father comes from the Flores clan of Negros Oriental).

All of us have, at one time or another, suffered loss in the family. We all know and accept that, ultimately, we share the same mortal fate. And so we grieve; but then, we also have to move on. However, just as we were beginning to accept life without our mom, our eldest brother, Rodolfo (also known as ‘Boy’ and/or ‘Ralph’) who had just turned 65 on April 24th — with “dual citizenship” (i.e. a Filipino citizen and senior citizen) — suffered a heart attack on May 1. In the evening of May 2, at the ICU of a government hospital here in Quezon City, he gave up the ghost.

My sister, Emilia, was inconsolable. So soon after our mom’s demise — barely two months — here was another death in the family. During the wake for our mother, kuya Rodolfo had joked that, with my white hair and all, I looked like the eldest of the brood. He was just being hyperbolic at the time. He also had white hair, but balding; admittedly however, insofar as countenance goes, he did have much fewer lines. But it has really come to pass — being the second son, now I am the eldest (there’s a gap of ten years between the two of us).

In times like this we can’t help but ponder again about the meaning of our lives, our relationships, our place in the scheme of things, etc. Then what our mom said time and again before comes back: “Life is what you make it.” At least, my older brother did not suffer so much — relatively, he ‘went out like a light.’ All around, people are leaving “this plane of existence,” and moving on: recently I got word that Atty. Alexander G. Amor had also ‘written 30’. He was one of my mentors (in news writing) at the then-School of Communication of SU. As the father of two of my best friends and classmates, Alexdel and Adlai Amor, Atty. Amor was like a second parent to me and other close friends as we were growing up.

And there’s the kind of death that is actually being celebrated by the West — the demise of Osama bin Laden, the elusive al Qaeda leader. But that’s politics. This is personal. Then there’s the religious — the death, and resurrection — of Jesus Christ, just celebrated last Holy Week. Whatever we may each think of death, or life and death, we realize that all of us have finite and limited timelines on this earth. Whatever it is in the great beyond, we can only wonder about. Definitely, having faith is good. On the other hand, having no faith at all, except in the present — the here and now — well, nobody can be a judge on that. All we (as in this representation) can do is to offer perspectives and opinions. Some are more personal (and affected) than others’, but that’s just the lay of the land… that’s simply how it is.

For those who are just running their own lives as they see fit, and do not know of what or of whom we are brooding on, the world goes on, without skipping a beat. Luckily for them, it seems, it’s just a simple case of “mind over matter” – that is, if you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.

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