Beyond repair, beyond regret

Probably because of all the shit that had happened since, I no longer remember why we were there at the Gonzalez mausoleum at the Apalit Catholic cemetery, just the two of us, my uncle Brother Andrew and I, one sunny, breezy afternoon sometime in the early 2000s…  [ The venerable Brother Andrew Benjamin Gonzalez, F.S.C., 1940 – 2006, of the De La Salle / Brothers of the Christian Schools, longtime president of the DLSU De La Salle University in Manila ]

“You can just put my ashes [ half ] anywhere here… when the time comes.”  Brother Andrew declared, a detectable gulp in his voice, as he surveyed the extension to the right of the old mausoleum, where the younger members of the family, his generation, were buried.  “The other half will have to be with the Brothers in Lipa.”

“Well, why not just be interred wholly in Lipa?  Why be ‘chop-chop’ like a pig?”  I asked.

“Because none of you will visit me there, damn it!”  he scoffed.

I laughed.  “Of course we won’t, it’s too far!  Besides, how would you know, you’d be dead, six feet under the ground, or six feet over, whichever…”

“I know!”  he snapped with finality.

“Well, which half goes here and which half goes to the Brothers?  From your head to your tummy here, and from your ass to your feet to the Brothers?  Or the other way around?”  I asked jokingly.

“It doesn’t matter.  Some here, some there…  Just do it, please!”  he requested, his eyes wide with sarcasm and scorn for his wisecracking nephew.

“OK!  Whatever turns you on, Brother.”  I shrugged.

“OK.  Where do we go to eat now?  I had a lousy lunch!  I’m hungry!”  and off he stomped back to the car.

And with that query, we left the Gonzalez mausoleum at the Apalit Catholic cemetery.

***********************************************************************

Some five years later in January 2006, Brother Andrew passed away of severe diabetic complications.  That afternoon, my lawyer brother, his Korean wife, and I were enjoying the delights of the 168 mall in Divisoria for the first time.  All those cheap and cheerful goods!!!  At 4:30 p.m., my brother received a text message that Brother Andrew was finally dying at the De La Salle University hospital in Cavite.  We immediately decided to return home to get organized.  As we were driving along Quezon avenue in front of the Santo Domingo church at around 5:30 p.m., we received another text message that he had already passed away.  I sighed, then continued looking at all the nice fake watches I had bought which I forthwith decided I simply couldn’t wear and would have to give away to our male employees…  The guy’s dead anyway, what could we do about it?!

By that time, he had messed up family matters so badly — with not a little help from youknowwho, youknowwhotoo, and youknowwhoelse — that some of us, including yours truly, had simply eradicated him from our lives.  Probably because of divine intervention, I managed to visit the dying man a few times in the hospital and actually be cordial, as if nothing bad had happened at all, which the poor man happily interpreted as “reconciliation” [ which it really wasn’t, it would take a longer time, but what do you do with a dying man? ].  We were still able to talk about some important things, but not all, before he finally “kicked the bucket.”

************************************************************************

It’s 2010 and I’m a very different person, sometimes unrecognizable even to myself.  Gone are the kindness, innocence, generosity of soul that everyone who had known me in childhood could attest.  Essentially.  Then I finally realized, contrary to what I had been taught and had believed in all my life, that goodness has no place in this world where one must kill, in all ways, to survive.  The danger is that the difference lies deep inside:  the cynicism, sarcasm, vengefulness, darkness of the soul…  although visible are the tired eyes, the sagging cheeks, the droopy smile, the weatherbeaten look of it all.  I think evil of everyone, bolstered by the fact that I’m usually proven right as time passes.  I prefer the Stepmother to Cinderella, Maleficent to the Three Good Fairies, Odile to Odette, Tosca to Violetta.  They’re more fun!!!

What’s the point of visiting the dead family members during All Souls’ Day anyway???  Why all the pretenses???  Why visit the dead when the living detest and even loathe each other?  What family?  Are you to be considered family when you’re only all too willing to destroy the entire superstructure just to feed your sense of self-entitlement, simply because you feel outdone and disenfranchised by so-and-so, because you’re named so-and-so, the supposed favorite of so-and-so?  What legacies?  Are misunderstandings, arguments, quarrels, and protracted wars among family members considered legacies???  We might as well be all dead if that’s the case!!!

Last week, my sister made arrangements for the Apalit parish priest to say an anticipated All Souls’ Day mass at the Gonzalez mausoleum at the Catholic cemetery;  she was the only one who attended.   A few days later, my eldest brother, still hip and groovy from the non-trad 1970s, called my younger brother so that they and their families could make the trip to the mausoleum at the cemetery.  What for???  Did they ever care for those traditions when they were still there?  Why make a show of it now, now that it’s gone, for good???  What for???  As for me, I told them pointedly that since we could no longer have the traditional Capampangan breakfast at the old house in Sulipan / Capalangan, the least they could do would be to cart me off to the Pen, the Shang, or the Sofitel Plaza for breakfast, brunch, or lunch.  “Antonio’s” Tagaytay would be nice.  Other than that, please do not bother me with your inanities, I told them.

SHIT.  Sartre would agree.

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22 Comments

  1. February 5, 2012 at 10:09 am

    Hi –

    You struck a chord in me with this post. “We have met the enemy and they is us” couldn’t be more descriptive of intra-family strife. Personally, I think friends were invented to take away the sting of family.

    More power to you.

  2. Josie Sarmiento Araneta said,

    January 18, 2011 at 5:42 am

    I told the eldest of my three sons that when the opportune time comes, that I wish to be cremated, that I’m not buying a space in the columbarium since they live tri-state, still bachelors, and I am not sure they would make the ritual Filipino family visit to the dead on All Saint’s Day, so I will leave it for them to decide what to do with my ashes. And since I’m dead, I couldn’t care less…I’d rather just stay alive in their heart and mind..

  3. Angie Harper said,

    December 21, 2010 at 3:32 am

    How strange, i was feeling and thinking the same things then I read this entry.

  4. Finina Ruiz said,

    December 16, 2010 at 1:16 am

    I googled my lola’s name, Lydia Molina Garcia, and it brought me here. It is sad to learn that she recently passed away. Dra. Garcia was my lolo’s 1st cousin. Can you get me in touch with her son, Myles Garcia? I would appreciate you emailing me. Thank you and best regards.

  5. Finina Ruiz said,

    December 16, 2010 at 1:12 am

    I googled my lola’s name Lydia Molina Garcia and it brought me here. It is sad to learn that she recently passed away. Can you put me in touch with her son, Myles Garcia? Dra. Garcia was my lolo’s 1st cousin.. Fernandez family. I would appreciate you emailing me privately. Thank you and best regards.

  6. Arnaiz Salas said,

    November 27, 2010 at 6:24 am

    Nawala antok ko sa pagbasa ng blog mo Sir Toto. Lalo na nung nag schedule ng misa sister mo sa Apalit, siya lang dumating. Naala ko ko nung pina-uuwi ako ng Nov 1 dahil sa pagsindi ng kandila, sabi ko sa amin, ano sense ng pag-uwi ko na super ang traffic from Laguna to Tarlac, e kung pwede naman magsindi ng kandila dito sa Los Banos? Yan kako sa sabi ni Apung Pepang ko… Nanahimik sa bahay…

    Salamat sa blog, nadagdagan ng sense kung bakit ako nagcoconect sa internet.

  7. November 26, 2010 at 3:00 pm

    Arnaiz Salas:

    Please be reminded:

    From now on, comments with no real names, no email addresses that can be confirmed, and no reliable identity checks will no longer be allowed.

    Please upload your comment again with the pertinent information.

    Thank you.

    Toto Gonzalez

  8. aldrin garcia said,

    November 23, 2010 at 5:37 pm

    toto,

    the A. in the A. Gonzales – Sioco High school in San Luis, Pampanga is Augusto! ever time i pass by the school, i always tell my self what is the meaning of A? now i know!thanks for the information

  9. Anthony Locsin said,

    November 10, 2010 at 5:06 am

    Toto,
    I think your rant, is exactly what everyone actually feels inside every November 1. Good rant. Take care always.

  10. November 8, 2010 at 4:15 pm

    Tomas:

    Hahahah!!! You’re funny. 🙂

    Toto Gonzalez

  11. Tomas Pablo San Andres said,

    November 8, 2010 at 2:25 am

    ang sabi ni Topol…tradition, tradition, without tradition you’ll be as shaky as a fiddler on the roof…

    advice po, mag piano nalang dahil apat ang paa, matatag..

    comic relief lang po, sir Toto, mabigat ang sinalaysay nyo, mahal namin kayo sir, at baka maging terrorist pa ang followers dito..

  12. November 5, 2010 at 11:00 pm

    ana:

    Hahahah!!! Good one!!! 😀

    Cheers!!!

    Toto Gonzalez

  13. ana santos said,

    November 5, 2010 at 5:00 pm

    A few years ago, when a dear friend passed away, his wife and his octogenarian mother were fighting about who would keep his ashes.

    It was then decided that they would just split it in half… to which another friend told the widowed wife:

    “Oye, You make sure you keep the lower half huh!” LOLSZ!!!

  14. November 5, 2010 at 2:20 pm

    Corazon:

    Yes, Life throws us the opposites of all the good that we were led by our elders to believe in. Of course it’s not the right thing to do, but I believe in boomeranging it all back, in giving “as good as it gets”!!! 😛

    Best regards,

    Toto Gonzalez

  15. Corazon Galvez said,

    November 5, 2010 at 8:19 am

    Thank you for revealing exactly what most of us feel about our families. This is the first time I posted because your views mirror my own.

  16. Myles Garcia said,

    November 5, 2010 at 5:57 am

    Toto, I sent you an email a few days ago. Didja get it?

  17. November 4, 2010 at 1:40 pm

    Ipe:

    Thank you!!!

    Life’s realities. You know all about them as well. 🙂

    Cheers!!!

    Toto Gonzalez

  18. Ipê Nazareno said,

    November 4, 2010 at 7:35 am

    Excellent post, Toto!!!

  19. November 4, 2010 at 6:10 am

    Larry:

    LOL@”exemplary KVETCHING”!!!

    Oh yes, I’d rather spew everything out like Mount Pinatubo rather than accumulate all the muck like Laguna de Bay!!! 😛

    Cheers!!!

    Toto Gonzalez

  20. November 4, 2010 at 5:30 am

    Myles:

    The Chinese don’t like dividing the remains of the deceased. Something about the division of family, division of wealth, things like those…

    But then, you’re a Spanish mestizo!!! 😛

    Cheers!!!

    Toto Gonzalez

  21. November 4, 2010 at 12:10 am

    Ranting and venting with full drama and vitriol is far BETTER than bottling it up INSIDE and developing CANCER. Hurrah for FREEDOM to speak our hearts and minds, three cheers to TOTO for this exemplary KVETCHING.

  22. Myles Garcia said,

    November 3, 2010 at 11:15 pm

    We split momma 3 ways after she passed away on Sept 24th. While my 2nd brother and I did NOT want to cremate mom; we respected her wishes. And now momma (at least my 3rd of her) temporarily resides in a beautiful, luxurious, air-tight, lacquered mahoganny cigar box, with magnetic catches no less. (That was the best container I currently have, pending a trip to the crematorium shop.)

    And I couldn’t be happier. I don’t have to go anywhere because while physically, mom now reigns in my curio cabinet — I talk to her anytime and anywhere that I like. I miss her so. My mom was Lydia Molina-Garcia, MD, of San Juan and Marikina. She would’ve been 90 this month. But we/I am thankful for the nearly 90 years the Almighty let her share with us in this dimension.


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