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For most of us, death is one of the hardest things to talk about. We tend to see it as a moment of anguish and loss. I can’t help but agree with this perspective, especially when a loved one moves on to the next chapter of this divine adventure called life. A year and a half ago, I was with my father when he died after a 4-year battle with colon cancer. I realize death has its own meaning which can turn something painful into something beautiful!
The story of Papa’s final earthly moments:
17 February 2011: Papa’s sister visited him at home and unknowingly brought some food — special pandesal and a bowl of pumpkin soup — that Papa had been requesting for several weeks already. Since cancer patients frequently experience a lack of appetite, Papa had not been eating much. But Papa had a good appetite that night.
18 February 2011, 6:30 am: Papa was gasping just to breathe. Mama and I rushed to bring him back to bed so he could relax.
8:00 am: The lay minister who gives Papa daily communion came as usual. But instead of giving him communion; he sprinkled holy water on Papa. At that point, everyone knew that Papa’s personal meeting with God is just around the corner.
9:45 am: Recognizing that the hour is coming, the family started to pray the rosary. We all agreed, including Papa, that there was no need for us to rush him to the nearest hospital, which is just across our subdivision. We knew that though Papa’s life may be prolonged for a few more minutes or hours, he will definitely move on. In the hospital, he would be attached to a respirator and tubes, making him suffer even more. Mama called one of Papa’s physicians to personally monitor him at home.
10:03 am: Surrounded by the immediate family, Mama and Papa had their last conversation:
Mama: “Papa, lagi nating napapag-usapan ang mga gusto mong gawin pag-galing mo. Gusto mong mag-travel tayo sa mga lugar na napuntahan mo at napuntahan natin as family… At this time, baka naman it’s time for you to think about yourself, pray for yourself and embrace whatever the will of God for you is at this present moment. You have done your role as the father of this family so well. The three kids already finished their studies at nakita mo na rin ang apo mo a month ago (My niece, the daughter of my sister who is four years my senior) nung bumisita sila (the elder sister, brother-in-law and the six-month old daughter because Ate already lives elsewhere in the world) Gian is already 27 years old and he could already manage himself and Gary (my younger brother) is also old enough and has a job now. I’ll be fine, I can manage. Tama na siguro… isuko mo na ang sarili mo sa kung ano ba talaga ang will of God for us.
Mama: So anung gagawin natin: dadalhin ka ba namin sa ospital sa tapat ng subdivision natin o ano ba?
Papa (his last words): Dito na ako sa bahay, huwag niyo na akong dalhin sa ospital. Magpapahinga na ako para tapos na ang lahat ng pagod natin. Apat na taon na rin since this started when I was diagnosed, para tapos na ang pagod natin.
At 10:07 in the morning, Papa moved on from this life to the next.
Despite feeling the loss of my father, I also looked at how he endured the pains of cancer. If I was stuck with the idea of having him live on, it would be a bit selfish because it would indirectly mean having my father suffer even more. Papa is now perfectly at peace after living a full life. Papa has taught me so much. I will always owe my life — from boyhood to manhood and my continuing journey to be the man I’m meant to be — to my father, George B. Geronimo.
Last 18 August 2012, the whole country was caught off-guard when the news that Secretary of Interior and Local Government, Jesse Robredo’s plane was missing. Later on, the remains of Sec. Robredo were found hundreds of feet below sea level. To the surprise of many, a composed and calm Atty. Leni shared how prepared Sec. Robredo was for this “encounter with God”, how he was as a husband, a father, how profound his Marian devotion was and how he served his country.
I believe his is another beautiful dying. Sec. Robredo died a beautiful death because he lived a full life as a Catholic, a public servant, a husband, and a father. More importantly, he lived his life for humanity and for his country, yet he never neglected his duty as husband to Atty. Leni, as well as fulfilling his duty as a father to their three lovely daughters: Aika, Trish and Jillian. This makes him “Pogi Doctor (Honoris Causa)” or as the people of Naga City simply called him, “Pogi”. He epitomized this very word, par excellence.
I salute the multi-awarded public servant, a brother in the Catholic faith, as well as a fellow De La Salle University alumnus, Jesse “Pogi” M. Robredo. [Guilian C. Geronimo]
Resident blogger: Guilian Geronimo
Guilian or Gui, 27, writes his “PoGUI Reflections” as a resident blogger at YouthPinoy!. He is a free lance writer, as well as regular contributor for New City magazine (Philippines). Gui also finds time to visit inmates monthly at Ward 7 of the Maximum Security Compound of the National Bilibid Prisons in Muntinlupa City. Follow him here as he writes about social issues and life’s biting realities.