The Journey Home

I’m here in JFK waiting for the first leg of my flight home to board in approximately an hour.  I’m exhausted after packing through the night, deciding to change suitcases two hours before I was to get ready to leave, and just weighed down with the sadness of knowing I’m coming home to say goodbye to Dad.

I’m hooked up to a Samsung power station which, surprisingly, has no other patron.  The last time I was here, all plugs were taken and everyone who had a laptop had their units up.  I don’t remember now if at that time, the wi-fi was free, but I always have my own wireless card and now USB key so it didn’t matter.  I have this station all to myself and I can freely charge my laptop, blackberry and what have you — and no one else is going to take any of the other power units.

I’ve had this knot in my stomach since I heard the news last Thursday.  Fe says it’s shock.. “Anim na baldeng iyak lang ang katapat niyan..” she texted back.  So I guess I have 5 more buckets to go. 

No matter how we knew it was just a matter of time, and more importantly, that we had gone through the motions twice before already, it still didn’t come as easy as I thought it would be.  Perhaps the circumstances prior to my father’s passing were to blame — or perhaps it’s because you never really can be truly ready to say goodbye no matter how you think you may be.

The security check was interminably long and I found myself tearing up more than once in the twenty minutes or so I was in line.  I held them back but not without effort.  I was thinking how I always looked forward to going to JFK because it meant going home to Manila.. or a vacation some place.  The only times I didn’t feel quite happy about it was when I was bringing Mom or Ofie here to go home after they visited with me.  Today is one such trip — and it won’t end when I drive away from the airport — because I know it will be here through the almost 19 hours it’ll take me to find myself home in Manila again.

It’s a heaviness in my heart that makes me clutch my chest as if doing so would make it go away.  But it doesn’t. 

I’m doing the journey alone because the cost was just too prohibitive to even consider bringing Angelo along.   So Alan stayed home with him.  I wrote my boss and some chosen friends about the news a fews hours after I found out.  I went to work because staying home would’ve meant more tears — and I didn’t want to cry myself to an asthma attack.  Getting a flight home was easy compared to trying to get a flight back.  I would’ve wanted to return after a week — but as luck would have it, I have to wait 13 days to board the flight home.  Looking back now, I think the fact that I didn’t get to leave as soon as I had hoped did me some good as it helped my emotions to settle down.  The anger, the grief, the pain have abated some — and while I am still ambivalent about many things at this point, I find myself in a better position to think things through.

I thought I had it all planned out well ahead, having fearlessly proclaimed I would want my Dad to be cremated.  But as things got complicated in the previous weeks, my resolve weakened, and when my siblings posed the question to me, the answer I gave was that I would go with what they wanted.  That was unusual considering my siblings and my Mom usually looked to me to be the decision maker.  It’s the boon and the bane of being the eldest.  Somehow I found myself vacillating between sticking to what I thought I had wanted and the alternative of just burying him in our family plot. 

Ours is a very complicated family situation.  It almost made us decide as a family to dispose of a full wake altogether.  And the circumstances leading up to Dad’s last hours were very emotional and chaotic.  I almost shirked away from talking to him via long distance which my sister had offered.  I gave in eventually and told him I was okay and we (him and I) were fine.. that I wasn’t  mad at him and that I was letting go of whatever had happened or had been said between us.  He was in and out of delirium already but he must’ve heard me because my sister said he seemed to have acknowledged me with a slight movement after I spoke. 

The news came hours later.  My sister followed my instructions not to call me directly, but to leave a message with Alan instead.  I didn’t know how I would react to the news when it finally came.  So when Alan told me that he had a missed call from Ofie, I already knew what the news was.  It was confirmed when he picked up his voice mail.  I spent a good hour crying.  I just sat on the bed, in the middle of getting ready for the day, sobbing away.  Alan came in and comforted me, and Angel, too — but I just needed a good cry.

An audible sigh just came out.. time to board.. time to go and take that journey home.

Seriously Sleep Deprived

Alan and I turned in after 4am, but had to heed the alarm clock when it rang at 5:30 because the contractors were coming at 8am.  Breakfast done, the boy got dressed, Alan brought my mother-in-law to her sister’s house — and I had to do some last minute taping of drop cloths and builder’s paper on the carpet.  Then I hit the shower.  After dropping off Angelo at daycamp, I found myself on a bus to the city heading for work.  I was so terribly exhausted I ended up rushing through my usual “paint me a face” routine in the last 5 minutes of the ride, well after the bus had exited the Midtown Tunnel.

And I’m almost dozing off.  I used to have better endurance — literally coming in at almost 4am from some late night out and getting up at 6:30 to head for work the same day.  But that was over 10 years ago.  I guess I have to come to terms with the fact that I just cannot do that anymore.  The spirit might be willing, but the flesh is definitely older.

I sat on the bus and typed up five tasks I wanted to accomplish today, none of which I have had the chance to take care of just yet.  (And to think I had a sale at Gotham Chick!)  I still haven’t had the chance to post anything, and I am trying to figure out to copy a design I saw which I think I can still improve on, if only I can decide what material to use.

Getting off the bus at the first stop, I decided to walk into M&J Trimming located at 1008 Sixth Ave (Ave of the Americas) between 37th and 38th street.   No, I didn’t really intend to buy anything — as I told the solicitous sales clerks who greeted me, I was just browsing and looking for inspiration.  If you’re a crafter or a dressmaker (do we still call them that?) — you would love to walk into this place which showcases shelf after shelf full of trims and notions.  For those who grew up in Manila like I did, think about the best stores of Ilaya and Tabora in Divisoria and Carolina’s in Mega Mall all combined!  It was crafts beyond beads!

I was eyeing some feathers which I thought I could probably work into one of my pearl brooches — and while I know natural is best, I was kind of hoping they were actually artificial.  Unfortunately, they are not.  The asthmatic that I am saw me returning the pretty little findings back on the rack.  (Maybe another time?)

I have bought faux and real leather trim to replace some straps that had gotten worn from a Burberry Blue Label bag I had, and some fancy cords for use with some funky earrings I made a while back.  They have lace in all colors, and all types of ribbons including some fancy dyed ones which I have never seen before.  Inspiration galore!  Colors and textures come alive when you are able to see them in front of you, and better yet, touch them so you can configure a design using the material in your mind.  There were pretty tassles with acrylic crystals but I don’t work with acrylic beads.  They would have made some pretty dangling earrings, but then it would’ve been pretty scandalous to sit next to drapery bearing the same gems..

I finally had to walk out as work awaits!  Still sleep deprived, I dragged myself to the elevator with my shades still on, hoping I didn’t look like a zombie because I certainly felt like one.  I’ve been doing odds and ends here since, answering e-mails, setting up meetings and trying to catch up with work.  My brain power is at a low 65% which is no good, so I thought I’d do something to “wake” me up. 

So here I am.  It’s just the same as “thinking out loud” when you want to clear your head.  I’m still sleepy though.

In mid-thought

I had started writing a post last Friday which had gone pretty far but which I had left unfinished.  Now that I was trying to put an appropriate ending to what I was trying to write about, I feel I need to rewrite it so off to the trash bin it goes. 

The weekend was a little more hectic than usual as we tried to get ready for the window replacements being done by our co-op management.  While I have put away a lot of things, I still have a lot to cover and protect from the onslaught of dust and debris, as they hammer out our old windows and put in the new ones. 

So I caught up with my Pinoy soaps in the midst of chores.  I didn’t pick up the jewelry making tools, though, and I have been unable to post any new items to the shop  although I have around 5 new pieces I had successfully photographed.  I did manage to sleep longer this past few nights — probably out of exhaustion as my body gave me a reality check.  (No longer can I withstand day after day after day of hardly any sleep.)

If there is anything that aging has helped me to work better with, though, is a more relaxed approach to life — and a calmer demeanor in dealing with what would otherwise be life-jarring events or news or what have you.  So my attitude has been to “go with the flow” and not to get too rattled.  I keep getting reminded of a favorite quotation I came upon many, many years ago in my teens – something to the effect of: “Be still and be quiet.  Listen to the silence.  The answer to your question is hidden in your heart.”  It’s a little melodramatic when you’re thinking of bopping someone at work in the head, or when you’re desperately trying to stop two crazy women from grabbing at each other’s hair.  But it helps me to step back and think better which usually lands me a solution if not close to one.

[Deep breath]

Last week, I received an e-mail from my sister that my father is in the hospital (again).  I don’t know what caused his confinement, but at least we know that he is not in the ICU.  (Looking to the heavens in thanks.)  We weren’t even informed by his second wife — we found out because one of his favorite anak-anakans, a cousin of mine, hunted down my brother who, unfortunately, is in Iligan.

Twice, in the last twelve months, my father had medical emergencies that had us preparing for the eventuality that his time was up.  And yet by the good grace of God, the miracle of medicine, and the generosity of friends, we pulled through and saw him back in his home.  We offered to have him come back home to us where he could be better cared for, but he said he will let us know when he was ready.

So many things happened during those two occasions when we thought that his time was up.  And so many things have happened and have been said since.  It feels like we are in a different world now totally disjointed from all that.

I had started to sink into a light depression thinking Dad was on his deathbed.  It seems that there is just too much pain right now for me to process things rationally.  I would sit and my mind would wander, and I tried to stick to the happy times and the good memories, but the painful ones were much too recent and painful to just shut out.  I am comforted by the thought that he seems to be okay anyway.  THey are due to release him any day now. 

Although I had said goodbye to my father twice already, I don’t think I’m ready to do that if the eventuality comes.  The sadness comes with an awkward feeling given our situation right now.  I used to think things like this only happened in the movies.  Yet here we are in our very own live teledrama playing out on two continents.  Broken family.. financial woes.. properties that are being fought over.. first family being unduly oppressed by the second family.. if the patriarch dies, as Sharon said, “Bukas, luluhod ang mga tala…”  — although people think we are the ones up there, and the second family are the ones we look down upon, not many people know how this is so untrue.

Oppression need not be in material things.  I think the more painful type of oppression is emotional — when one is robbed of the chance to have a father who cherishes you as his child.  I can almost hear people chiming in, no one said life is fair.  Indeed.  Sometimes I think Dad’s passing would only create more problems and emotional aggravation, then I pause to think about what’s happening now that he’s around. 

I don’t wish my father ill.  I love him dearly even if as I would say in my eulogy, he was not a perfect father.  But who is?  I hope he doesn’t suffer if it should come to that.  I hope he finds it in his heart to find true reconciliation with us, his children.  I had blindly believed that all would be well after he asked for forgiveness froms the last time around.  There were tears of joy over those words, and it felt as if a load had been taken off our shoulders.  And he hurdled that obstacle and as he said, he’s better now and thinking more clearly.  So all that reconciliation was forgotten.

“Honor thy Father and mother,” so God commands.  We have honored him despite the pain, and we have never forgotten who he is in our lives.  So we bow our heads and just take it all and say Amen.

Kraft Scrapping

kraftscrapSo I’ve finally gotten down to creating my Kraft Scrap logo, and I’m hoping to complete one layout this week.  (Keeping my fingers crossed I don’t end up postponing this.) 

“KRAFT” was spelled using the font “LetterPress Inverted” and handcolored with markers. “SCRAP” was printed as “outline” and in grey in “Hotel Coral Essex” and then colored within the lines and outlined in black marker.  the byline “by PINAYNEWYORKER” was printed using “Adler” font.

The idea is to come up with my own elements and attempt to prepare digitally downloadable versions to share (!) — given my limited resources, that is.

Crafting, as it has been for a long, long time, remains to be a good way for me to unwind and de-stress.  It’s like an ongoing conversation with the inner me, as I color, sketch and sometimes just doodle.  Have you ever given thought to how the little things actually help to pull you through the craziness of the day as you go about your regular routine, be it at work or at home?   Sometimes I find that some of my most creative ideas come to me when I’m doing my chores which come to me mechanically.  Perhaps it’s the monotony of what we are used to doing day in and day out that provides a good springboard for the generation  of new creative ideas.

Wish me luck on this one.