Sunday, November 28, 2010

First Sunday of Advent

We bought our adventswreath from the Advent bazaar in the neighborhood flower shop the Sunday before. I always await the Advents bazaar, because for me, it is a solid sign that Christmas is fast approaching. Aside from the Advents calendar, which always makes the girls crazy :-D

My husband and I chose a simple adventswreath which would grace and light up our table until Christmas. The candles are all orange. Although, there's usually a traditional color being followed by the church -- violet for the first three Sundays, rose for the last Sunday and white for Christmas day. states: Advent has a two-fold character, as a season to prepare for Christmas when Christ’s first coming to us is remembered; and as a season when that remebrance directs our mind and heart to await Christ’s second coming at the end of time. Advent is a period of devout and joyful expectation.

As we light up the first candle, we think about our last advent celebrations; in Manila, in Germany with opa, and further down the road when oma was still with us. And we say thank you for the best memories and thank you, Lord, for the blessings given to us.

We await in grateful hope for a blessed Christmast filled with your glory. Amen.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Tschuss, Opa (Goodbye, Grandpa)

Auf wiedersehen, Opa.

Today, we really had to let you go.

Dont you know that the girls have been worrying, thinking ahead?
When they saw you thin and sick and not eating and in pain the whole time -- that few hours visit in the hospital left a very big impression. They were confused, and a little shocked.

When we left more than a year ago, you were still your usual, active self. The girls noticed the difference.

They wondered aloud if you would die. If you do, they asked where you would go. They wanted to know if you would be buried beside the oma (grandma), who left us two years ago. They are not sure if it is good for you to be placed on top of oma's grave. They insisted on passing by the cemetery to check oma's grave, which we did almost everyday.

They always got curious when there's a burial going on. They begged to see the open earth. They wanted to know what would really happen to you and where you would go.

And then, you are allowed to leave the hospital. The girls wanted to visit you. Unfortunately, you brought with you a virus that meant you have to be isolated; and gloves and mouth covers are needed to tend to you. We cannot risk the girls' health; although they do shout out loud 'OPA' whenever we pass by your house. Those were their usual antic before, remember? Those times, the girls decided to just draw all their love for you.

I think they understood although they have questions which we tried very hard to answer. Why could they not visit you when you are already at home? Because Opa have a bacteria that might endanger the health of kids like you. Why could we visit you and not them? Because we are bigger than you. Could they stay outside and say hello? Tomorrow, maybe. Could I have something that belongs to Opa? Of course, we would ask him.

I asked the girls to pray for you. The girls talks to Oma whenever we pass by the cemetery. We prayed for you, for the pain to go away. We asked Oma to hold your hands, if that would be possible. Maybe Oma could help you ease the pain?

And then November 17, around 3 am -- the call. Opa is dead.

The girls learned about it when they woke up. They wanted to see you. Maybe he is only on a deep sleep?

It was a normal day for them, they went to school. But back home, they wanted to do something for you. They drew and drew -- finished a  handful of drawings; for you, for Oma; and from IC, a drawing for God which you are supposed to bring to Him up there. The same night, when we have exhausted ourselves with storytelling and drawings -- MC suddenly realized that she wont be able to see you anymore, and the tears came.

We told her it is okay to cry. It is okay to be sad. We told her that you are still there for her; just that she cannot see you anymore. That she could always talk to you, anytime, anywhere. Like Oma, you are now an angel, too.

That decided it, the girls wanted to see you. Armed with their drawings for you, for Oma and for God; we went and viewed your body. They saw you: in white, with a white pillow and a white blanket. They said you look great. They left their drawings there, too; and some tears.

After that, they took it all in stride. They helped in almost everything especially everything about you. And today, during your funeral; they get dressed because they wanted to look good for you. They listened to the whole rites, and held themselves proud when their names were mentioned.

They participated and observed. They joined the coffee and cakes afterwards.

In the end, they walked back with us to the cemetery. They wanted to see if you are comfortable. They saw the flowers covering your fresh grave; and asking for your permission (The Opa said yes!), took each a stem of flower. They wanted to let it try and leave it pressed between the pages of their favorite books.

Happy with the flowers, they waved and laughingly said, 'Opa, du bist der Beste. Tschuss!' (Grandpa, you are the best, bye!)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Holding Hands

I love holding hands with my girls.

I love it when the girls would fight for my hands whenever we would go out for a walk.
Although I dont really understand why they would fight when I do have two hands, one for each of them!

MC just hates being on the side where my bag would be. And that's where the discussion and the fight would always start :-D
IC, she doesnt care; as long as she's holding my hand.

Releasing their hands would not be simple.
Sometimes, I have to tell them to march one by one when the sidewalk would be too narrow to fit the three of us holding hands.
Sometimes I would tell them to let loose when I have to get something from my bag. Or when I have to pay something. Or just because.

Just because wont do at all. I need a reason.

So I would tell them, look at the other kids. They are running alone. They are walking alone.
As long as you would take care, as long as you would take note of the road and the traffic around you -- it is perfectly okay not to hold hands.

So the girls would say, Okay!
And would reach out, and proceed to hold my hands.
I would grasp them automatically; hoping that the sidewalk would be wide enough to accommodate us, holding hands.

Wait a minute... it is fun to hold hands. It is warm -- not only during cold days, but it wraps my heart in warmth and love, too.

That decided it. I will enjoy holding hands with them as long as they want me, too. We would take narrow pathways sideways so that we wont have to release our hold. Or choose wider paths so that we wont have to break our stride, our grips.

And unless they wont let go, I would hang on.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

It's the season...

... for writing down lists!

I guess the girls are caught up with all the advertisements on TV; and the catalogues that we are receiving at home.


Both of them have already noted what they wanted for the following gift-giving days: St. Nicolas ( December 6), MC's birthday (Dec 10), Christmas Day (December 25, of course!), IC's birthday (13 April), Easter (24 April).

Mind you, their lists were complicated. But as the girls said, the right or wrong spelling doesnt matter -- as long as we could read and understand their list.

Again, there's a big discussion about electronic/console games. MC wants to have her own; because most of her friends have one or two.

I reminded her that we have agreed earlier, that she could only get one, if she would be able to pay for such items using her own money. Plus, if she's already good in her studies.

And would she rather have buttons to push alone than toys to play with her sister and her friends? She smiled knowingly, 'No Mama, I was only checking if you still remember that condition. Of course, I would love the toys and playing with other kids better, but asking doesnt hurt.'

Mmmm :-D

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Girls and Their Sick Opa

Their grandfather is sick.
He was in the hospital.

The kids visited them there. A series of strokes left him bedridden.
We tried to prepare the kids. We already told them that the Opa is sick.
Opa is thinner. Opa needs help. Opa is not so strong anymore.

When they arrived at the hospital, they both greeted the Opa. And then 8-year-old MC just looked at him and stayed a distance. Six-year-old IC watched closely. Both of them tried to help -- calling the attention of the nurses, giving Opa tissue papers, combing Opa's hair, offering him food, and with some prompting -- held Opa's hands.

After that visit, the kids were quiet on our drive home.
Why is it that Opa's like a child? Covering his head with his blanket?

Where would Opa be if the Oma is already inside? Would he be on top?

Lots of questions. Some have answers, some don't. Just remember, girls, the Opa loves you.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Happy Birthday, Little Sister!

Oops, I know, you are not little anymore.
You are already in your early 30s.
And you are also bigger than me now :-D

But for me, you are still my little sister.
The one with the killer eyes. And I mean literally and figuratively.
I remember that even our father would figure out in fights just because you threw someone your killer stare and made them uncomfortable.

I would remember you as the one always in the middle of arguments. I remember that with five siblings -- you are the only one that brought our parents to the school guidance counsellor; not only once but how many times. I remember that one time, you brought the whole family in tears just because... and you brought people in tears just because...

But despite all those misunderstandings, I would like to call them now; we managed, and you managed yourself good (despite jumping into different universities and changing your courses).

I didnt know that you would follow my steps -- going into writing and the love of words. I didnt know you had it into you to be the president of the university's student council! I didnt know a lot about you, but now, I am glad I am knowing more about you.

Imagine, more than 30 years of being sisters and I am just starting to get to know you. And I am enjoying knowing about you, as my girls are enjoying knowing you.

Distance doesnt matter, little sister.
You are remembered with pride and joy and much love on your special day.

Happy Birthday, Anna.

P.S. The girls want lumpiang shanghai be delivered to us as according to them, you are sure to have them on your birthday!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Dear hospital staff...

Dear doctors, nurses, caregivers and other  hospital staff;

I know you are all busy.
The hospital is understaffed.
You are all overworked. Stressed.
You have also your own problems.
We understand that and all others.

Please understand us, too.
We dont want our loved ones to be in the hospital but because they need extra medical attention, we left them to your capable hands.

When you come in the room... we would appreciate it, really...
How about a smile?
How about talking to our loved one, asking him what he needs, what hurts -- and trying to disguise the urgency in your voice?
How about letting him feel human by touching him, through eye contacts?
How about some nice words when you pass by?

The tender loving care, the love, we are always ready to give; but sometimes we need a little help from you out there, too.
Thank you very much.