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Friday, April 25, 2008
Take Care of Your Parents

I got this forwarded e-mail from a friend of mine. I believe it's very relevant. Cherish time spent with your parents - you never know when God will decide to take him back.

TAKE CARE OF YOUR PARENTS


A man tells how his booking an air ticket for his father, his first
flight, brought emotions and made him realize that how much we all take for granted when it comes to our parents.

My parents left for our native place on Thursday and we went to the airport to see them off. In fact, my father had never traveled by air before, so I just took this opportunity to make
him experience the same. In spite of being asked to book tickets by train, I got them tickets on Lufthansa.

The moment I handed over the tickets to him, he was surprised to see that I had booked them by air. The excitement was very
apparent on his face, waiting for the time of travel. Just like a school boy, he was preparing himself on that day and we all went to the airport, right from using the trolley for his luggage, the baggage check-in and asking for window seat and waiting restlessly for the security check-in to happen.

He was thoroughly enjoying himself and I, too, was overcome with joy watching him experience all these things.

As they were about to go in for the security check-in, he walked up to me with tears in his eyes and thanked me. He became very emotional and it was not as if I had done something great but the fact that this meant a great deal to him.

When he said thanks, I told him there was no need to thank me.

But later, thinking about the entire incident, I looked back at my life.


As a child how many dreams our parents have made come true. Without understanding the financial situation, we ask for football, dresses, toys, outings, etc. Irrespective of their affordability,
they have satisfied to all our needs. Did we ever think about the
sacrifices they had to make to accommodate many of our wishes?

Did we ever say thanks for all that they have done
for us?

Same way, today when it comes to our children, we always think that we should put them in a good school. Regardless of the
amount of donation, we will ensure that we will have to give the child the best, theme parks, toys, etc. But we tend to forget that our parents have sacrificed a lot for our sake to see us happy, so it is our responsibility to ensure that their dreams are realized and what they failed to see when they were young, it is our responsibility to ensure that they experience all those and their life is complete.

Many times, when my parents had asked me some questions, I have actually answered back without patience. When my daughter asks me something, I have been very polite in answering. Now I realize how they would have felt at those moments.

Let us realize that old age is a second childhood and just as we take care of our children,the same attention and same care need to be given to our parents and elders.

Rather than my dad saying thank you to me, I would want to say sorry for making him wait so long for this small dream. I do realize how much he has sacrificed for my sake and I will do my best to give the best possible attention to all their wishes. Just because they are old does not mean that they will have to give up everything and keep sacrificing for their grandchildren also. They have wishes, too.

Take care of your parents.



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Monday, April 21, 2008
Suffering and God's Peace - My Dad's Story

Santiago Lee Thay
May 17, 1943 - April 13, 2008


Suffering. No one can ever live this life without experiencing suffering. Perhaps we vary in the level of suffering, but one thing is for sure, suffering always gives us two choices – either we make it or we break it.

Growing up, I know we weren’t rich as others. We lived a very simple life. My dad was working as a manager in one of a printing company in Makati and my mom, a simple housewife who owned a small sari-sari store. We always had enough, and I know that we really never had to worry much about the basic necessities. My dad worked really hard, sacrificing himself a lot of times and what he wanted in life so that he could provide for all of us. It was because of his hard work that he was able to move up us up from renting to owning our own home. It was because of his hard work that we were able to own our family car. It was because of his hard work that we children never “suffered” much, and would live a comfortable life. My mom, on the other hand, is smart. She saved up until she could, and lived simply so she could provide for us. It is only now that I realized how important her saving meant. It is because she saved that we were all able to go to good schools and universities. It is because she saved that she was able to send us off on vacations and experience flying on a plane and the life outside our homes. It is because she saved that we were able to pay off medical bills we faced when suddenly, Papa had a fatal stroke that led him to be bedridden to this day.

Papa was a worrier. Perhaps he had every reason to. He was a “war” baby. He grew up when the war broke that is why he grew up the smallest in his family but he was big in compassion. He knew what it was to suffer, to scrimp, to sacrifice. His dad also left them due to a heart attack when they were barely making it on their own lives. He stood to be the father at an early age. He constantly cared for every member of his family, and eventually, his own family when he married Mama. We were unlike many Chinese families living in Manila. We didn’t own any hardware store; we never owned any buildings or any business, for that matter. However, Papa was a hard worker and was very intelligent. Papa used to be a devoted boy scout, a teacher of Kung Fu, an excellent orator, a funny and witty host and was very articulate – he spoke English and Tagalog fluently and could read, write and speak Chinese (Putonghua), including dialects such as Kong Chiu Wa, Hoi San Wa, Chong San Wa, Hookien, and Taigi. Papa later on became a consultant for printing machines, with expertise in printing in plastic which he got from graduating at Mapua for Mechanical Engineering. So, he worked hard, day and night. I remember when I was at my teens that I hardly saw him, and was a bit envious at his constant buddy, my Uncle Ronnie, bless his soul as he passed away a few years back. I envied their time together because he was able to spend so much time with Papa. But because of Papa’s friendship with Uncle Ronnie, he, too was a constant blessing and provider. He was there when my grandmother fell ill and constantly went to the hospital and comforted Papa. He would let us experience new things such as eating cheese and appreciating more finer things in life. He treated us gastronomically as he took us to different restaurants – whose names we barely recognized. He was there when Auntie Julie, Uncle Ronnie’s business partner and friend, treated us to our very first live concert of Jacky Cheung, one of the Chinese singers all our family really admired. He also provided financially when Papa had his stroke. He was also affected with this, losing perhaps his best friend at that moment, and a mentor at that.

It all happened on July 9, 1998. I can never forget that fateful date and year. It was my sister’s birthday and that year, I was to graduate from De La Salle University. I was on the field, interviewing mothers for a research we did for Nestle when I received a page (it was still pagers that was the thing those days) from my sister to come home because my dad had a condition and was rushed to the hospital. I remember I was in Pag-asa, Quezon City and I was not familiar with the roads. I took a taxi and worried all the way home. I later learned from my sister that they first took him to St. Luke’s Hospital Emergency Room, but because they didn’t know any doctor, was left unaided for hours. They finally transferred him to Chinese General Hospital where he was finally given care and was finally admitted to a room. I remember I wanted to so much to go and see him that night, but we weren’t advised to go because they said they were still settling down and we could just see Papa the next day. That next day, we were never able to hear his voice again as he went into coma because of his stroke. He was transferred to Intensive Care Unit (ICU). That week, when it was apparent to the doctors that the longer he slept, the more damaging it is to the brain therefore lessening the chances of survival. One of the doctors told us he would never wake up anymore. I remember it was such a painful moment. I went to the Chapel and cried to God. I poured out the tears bottling inside of me. When the sobbing died down, my brother told me that God would never leave us. He will take care of us, he told me to leave it in God’s hands. True enough, after a month, my Papa finally came out of his coma and awoke. He was not the same anymore though. He had his senses, his reaction to pain, but he couldn’t move nor speak anymore. We spent another month in a regular room while doctors waited for him to recuperate. By then, he was being fed by a nasal tube, and had tracheostomy – to a layman’s understanding: his trach tube was inserted in the hole in the neck and windpipe area or the trachea, so the nurses can get the phlegm out of his lungs better. He was a smoker, you see, so that’s why there were complications in the lungs. When we were finally able to see him home, we revamped the family computer room into his make-shift room. It looked like a hospital room – with the suction machines, nebulizers, the hospital bed and the nurses attending to him. Because of his condition, we had to hire two nurses, one nurse for two shifts in a day. It was hard, I remember, the first time I saw the nurse use the suction machine to remove the phlegm in his trach. I tried to learn how to do it. But eventually, my heart could not take the pain I see whenever I do these things. Although ironically, this method would of suctioning the phlegm made him breathe easier.

It was a long and tedious recovery period. The greatest achievements were when he finally could move his head from left to right, to lift his arms when a physical therapist assisted him, and when he could answer us by blinking his eyes if it’s a “yes” and by shaking his head if it’s a “no”. This became our communication with him.

He went to the hospital a few more times, but after the first year, we were able to experience some sort of peace – as we stayed at home – with no visits to the hospital (except to replace the nasal tubing and the trach) for the next seven years.

I have intentionally delayed mentioning my mother in all of these episodes because I want to devote speaking about her until this moment. Papa was undeniably a fighter. But to me, the greatest strength would come from my mother. She was never without tears, but she always stands up after being on her knees. She would toil, she would become the provider and she would be the one person who kept this family united. She would sacrifice her wants in life so that even if we are faced with this difficulty, she could provide for us a better life. Such self-sacrifice is one thing that I admire about her. I cannot describe with words how fearlessly she braved all these. I know one thing kept her alive and sane – and that would be her faith in God. Mama would not win in any theological debates, or memorize the Mystery of Light and defend her faith by giving out scripture passages, but her eyes fixed on God and her faith is something not all people could possess. She always held a rosary in her hands, and mumbled out the prayer sometimes incoherently – but with fervent faith she pressed on and prayed. It is not by words she communicated to God, but with a mental communication between her and her Maker. I have to admit that in these past almost ten years since Papa had his stroke, we weren’t perfect. We all had our misunderstandings. We made mistakes, hurt her in some ways, and pierce her heart when she only had our best interests at heart. But she would forgive and move on. She maybe persistent at times or even is unreasonable at times, but in the end, who could ever blame her? She had carried such a huge burden on her shoulders and no amount of trying to understand will we ever understand how brave she is and how she was able to go through this.

Our family wasn’t aware, but when Papa first had his stroke, Mama prayed to God to give her 10 years to take care of Papa. And on July 9, 2008… it would be ten years. We could not have made it without prayers, without the support of family and friends – both emotionally and financially. We would never make it without the excellent care his doctors and nurses have given him. (The doctors and nurses who are taking care of Papa now are the same people caring for Papa now. They have never left us.) In the past, we would flinch when we were given money. We never liked it being the charity case. But if we do not accept, how can we survive with our meagre earnings? We had to recognize that this has drained us financially, and cushioned very little only with the savings Mama had set aside. Pride then left us, and we accepted everything as blessings.

However, the trial has not ended. In the past two years, we’ve been in and out of the hospital due to Papa’s worsening conditions. His heart which had kept him going before is slowly failing. His recent admission to the hospital was March 4, 2008. Each day, we are faced with so much suffering. He was rushed to the hospital because of his low blood pressure. He was on and off the ventilator machines. He was on expensive medications. But after the 5th time of him getting well and worsening, doctors told us that his getting well is not probable anymore, and we should prepare ourselves already of the inevitable that we will be losing him soon. His quality of life is not present as well. Slowly, his internal organs are giving up – he’s not able to urinate, to do bowel movement. He’s NPO – Nothing Per Oral, because his body is rejecting the food he eats. This in turn has worsened his ulcer, and we could see blood coming out of his nasal tubes. Every day, the doctors would tell us, “it might be today”. For almost two weeks, we were literally waiting for him to die. It was a different kind of pain to go through this each day. But all these had made our faith stronger. This experience also proves that doctors aren’t God… and it is really up to God when he wants to call back his Son to return to Him. We see the pain, and feel the pain ourselves, but ultimately, it is God’s will. Although it has been and still is, a difficult journey, our family is entrusting ourselves to God’s will. He has been there, providing for us all these years. If I count all our earnings and the expenses we incur, I cannot for the life of me, balance them both. We always received more than enough. This, to us, proved that God is indeed bigger than all of our problems. However, it was difficult to go through this every day. What comforted me are Mother Teresa’s words when she went through her darkness… “In the call You said that I would suffer much. – Ten years – my Jesus, You have done to me according to Your will – and Jesus hear my prayer – if this pleases You – if my pain and suffering – my darkness and separation gives You a drop of consolation – my own Jesus, do with me as You wish – as long as You wish, without a single glance at my feelings and pain. I am Your own.” Although our suffering differs from Mother Teresa’s, we recognize that our suffering may be indeed a way to “satiate Christ’s thirst for souls” – and with this, we lift it up to the Lord and embrace this pain with only trust for Him.

After a month and almost two weeks, he went into coma again. His eyes were starting to dry up, so we had to place a cover to make it easier for him. His fingers have started to turn black. However, it consoled our family a bit that he went into coma, because finally, he could not feel the pain anymore, although physically, you could still see his pain. The next day, the fight was finally over. It was April 13, 2008, and it was the Good Shepherd Sunday. God has decided to call back one of his flocks back to his care, and it was truly a great comfort.

I woke up around 4:30 that morning and checked up on Papa. He was breathing shallowly, so I just kissed him in the cheek and told him “Papa, if you’re tired, rest with God.” And I fell asleep again. The nurse was preparing to clean his trach around 7:00 – 7:30 in the morning, and went to gather the things needed at the comfort room. When she came back, Papa was not breathing anymore. So she roused me up from sleep and told me Papa was not breathing anymore. I asked her to call the doctors to check up on him and by 7:47 after his ECG exam, he was confirmed dead.

After that, it was a whirlwind of emotions as we got busier preparing for his funeral. Every day, we celebrated the mass for the dead (Thanks, Paul). A lot of people visited, comforted us and extended help. It was a week full of stories about Papa – it was refreshing to hear people talk about Papa always in an encouraging tone. Papa was a great loss to our family. He was so much to everyone. He was able to help people without asking for anything in return. He was a joy to be with, and was a very accommodating friend. He was a loving husband to my mom, a generous brother to his siblings, a doting father to us, and a caring albeit silent grandfather to his grandson.

We had the internment last Sunday, April 20. He was cremated first in Chinese Cemetery. When he was in the cremation chambers and the door finally shut down – I finally realized this was it. We would no longer see Papa physically. He was later installed in Elysium Gardens, a columbarium located near our home. My Buddhist Uncle later told us that it was a perfect day for Papa. The timing was perfect, it rained around 3-4pm, which he said would complete the day as “perfect” in Buddhist terms. For our family, it was a day which pain, sadness, exhaustion, realization, gratefulness and mixed emotions started to manifest.

We are very grateful, though to all our relatives and friends, Papa's former employers, Papa's friends, Papa's affiliates, and everybody who took time and effort to visit us during the wake and those who were with us on our final walk with Papa. We could not thank you enough for bringing us enlightenment, comfort and joy during this difficult time.

It is still hard to go through each day now that he is really gone. Today is the 3rd day since Papa was physically gone. But we all know that God’s guiding hand is with us and was always with us, and we know Papa is now in a much better place.

Pray much for us. Pray that we will not be led astray. But most of all, pray that this suffering will make us – for the greater glory of God.

In moments when I doubt, I turn to this song:

To You O Lord (Psalm 25)

To You, O Lord I lift up my soul
To You, my God, I shall trust
Let me know Your ways and lead me in truth
I will wait for You, Lord, for you are my God.

Verse 1

Turn, to me, O Lord, be gracious
Heal these wounds of affliction and pain
Relieve this heart of mine with Your eyes of mercy
And embrace me back in Your arms.

Verse 2

Lord, my God, my cries You have heard
Healing came and my life was restored
I’ll sing Your praise Lord and my mouth shall give thanks
And with courage will my soul live again.

This song was created when the Holy Spirit led me to do so a week before Papa went into the hospital the last time. Incidentally, this was one of the responsorial psalms used in the rites for the Mass of the Dead. This was also sung during the mass on the last night. (Thanks, Omar and Jaja)

I offer this song for Papa, as well as for all those who are suffering – may their pain lead to hope for God’s mercy and peace. May God be always with us.



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Monday, April 14, 2008
He Takes in Perfect Timing

Yesterday was Good Shepherd Sunday. Yesterday, He also took back his one of his flock back. Papa died at 730 in the morning yesterday. It was peaceful and dignified.

At last, he is free from the bondage of a bedridden patient. Suffering physically no more.

His remains lie in Sanctuarium, along Araneta Avenue, in between Quezon Avenue and E. Rodriguez. We still don't know when the internment is, but possibly this Sunday.

Thanks for all the prayers and for fighting this battle with me. He really takes in perfect timing.



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Friday, April 04, 2008
It's still a battle

i came from hong kong last tuesday. and i was supposed to go home wednesday, but monday, my mom texted me to say that suddenly, he cannot take any more food because his body is rejecting it. And since water is being kept in his body, parts of his body was being affected already. his eyes were bulging already with water and he looks really bad. i wasn't able to see the worst as i arrived a day after this episode (which is why i rebooked my flight) Then, we were told the bad news. Papa is not going to get well with the medicines and the treatment they're giving him. It's because we had already gone through the process of the medications for the 5th time, and every time, he would get well, then suddenly something goes wrong again.

I'm not a doctor, so it's hard for me to explain things. But it's like this... his blood pressure is low, so that's why he has to take a medicine that should keep his b/p up. but when that happens, he can't urinate and do bowel movement. to correct this, he should take a medicine, but this medicine keeps the b/p down. in this case, he can't breathe easily and needs a ventilator to breathe and be comfortable.

they say that quality of life is not present anymore with what we're doing to him. So that night, with a heavy heart, we decided to stop the medications as advised by the doctors and after researching if this is morally correct or not.

when we decided to do this, the doctors told us that he might be gone in 24 hours. although his blood pressure went down to 60/40 (the lowest), he is battling the fight. today is the third day already since we decided to stop his medications. his b/p is fluctuating now. some says it won't be long. but when i see papa, it's like his will to live is still there. the doctor told us that these are just reflexes, and they believe there's nothing behind his eyes anymore.

right now... even though i know that medically he might not be the same as he was before, i still feel as if he's battling this, and maybe for mama, maybe for us, i don't know.

but i remember i blogged about this before... i accept God's will, and continue to trust in His love and mercy... but as long as he fights, i'll pray that it's not too painful for him. If it is, I hope he offers it to Christ - to satiate His thirst for souls, like Mother teresa said.

in the end, whatever comes out of this battle, i shall always praise God. because in this ten years...

... He allowed my mom to stay by his side (my mom told me this week that when my dad first had his stroke, she prayed to God to give her ten years to take care of Papa)
... He allowed this family to pray and become more spiritually binded to Him
... He allowed us to become a blessing for others, because through our perserverance and faith, many has been touched and blessed by God's providence for our family.
... He allowed us to experience pain, so that they joy of being together as a family must be learned
... He allowed many lessons to be learned.

i made a song before he went to the hospital (which is already a month now) and i'm glad Omar was able to arrange it and record it as .amr and jaja and john converted it to mp3. to listen:

Amr - http://omarbiter.multiply.com/journal/item/3
Mp3 - http://beingjaja.multiply.com/music/item/34/To_You_O_Lord

I hope this song has comforted Papa as it has comforted me.

to all my friends who visited me at the hospital, to those who texted, called, prayed with me... thank you very much. this battle is not yet over, but all these has helped me go through this and i will always be thankful for all of your thoughts, prayers and help. God bless.




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