Since I was unable to go to his service in L.A., Mama read this for me during the service. This was my first time to write a eulogy. It took me over 3 hours to finish it as I would break down every once in a while. It was a good catharsis though. I felt better after writing it. H has been very supportive and has been keeping me strong. I still have my spaced-out moments or my suddenly-bursting-into-tears moments, but I feel a bit better now. Thanks to everyone who’ve sent me comforting words. You help cushion this very low moment in my life, and I am grateful to have friends like you.
I’d ring the doorbell and there he would be. In his unbuttoned checkered polo, white sando and shorts, his eyeglasses resting on the tip of his nose and a welcoming smile, he would make his way to the gate. I’d offer to close the gate for him but he would just wave me off. I’d enter the house and there he would be, seated on the corner living room chair nobody else dared to sit on, watching a blaring basketball game, or at the head of the dining table eating his dolce. When I was younger, there he would be, sitting by the breakfast table answering the newspaper’s crossword puzzle or clicking away on his trusty typewriter. When I was much younger, there he would be, driving his white car after picking me up from the hospital, cracking jokes about being a slow driver to make me laugh. There he would be.
They say “God gave us memories so we can have roses in winter”. This being my coldest winter, I am thankful to have shared many beautiful moments with Wowo.
What keeps me warm in this winter is the memory of him being a perfect husband. He loved Maymee dearly. He was always by her side, making sure she was safe, preparing her medicine, even painting her toenails when she was sick. It went without a doubt that he loved Maymee quietly but passionately.
What keeps me warm in this winter is the memory of his cooking. His Christmas Ham, Beef Tapa, Pancit with Tokwa, Caldereta and many more dishes are Project Six classics. Being the true Bicolano that he was, there was one dinner when he showed us just how much he enjoyed spicy food. He munched on a whole siling labuyo. Only Wowo could ever pull that off.
What keeps me warm in this winter is the memory of his voice. When Josh was a baby, Wowo would sing him to sleep – a song with no words, a lullaby we now sing to his great-grandchildren. His voice was deep and strong, very much like him — very much like his laugh! After cracking a joke, and he loved jokes, his eyes would crinkle, he’d smile a toothy grin and then he’d laugh loud and clear. I miss that laugh.
What keeps me warm in this winter is the memory of his strength. He was quiet in his ways, but was sharp even in his old age. He would question things he didn’t understand. Not only was he strong in mind but in body even in his 80s. He would cross the street on his own and walk as briskly as the next soldier. He would teach himself how to operate the hospital bed so there would be no need to call the nurse. Wowo was always quick to the draw.
I now look at the green gate with sadness. I still dare not touch the living room corner chair. I feel the emptiness of the dining table. I wonder where the typewriter is. The silence of my tears overwhelms me and my heart aches at each memory. But just as Wowo was strong to his last breath, so should I be as I keep him alive in my heart.
I find solace in the fact that the best has come for Wowo. He is finally free of pain and burden. I rejoice because I know that Wowo is laughing, singing, cooking, cracking jokes and walking as briskly as he did, as he should. He has started a journey back home. I picture him walking down a path of silver balloons with the angelic voices of little girls singing his welcome. It may be winter where we are, but it is springtime where he is. There he is. And there he should be.