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HIGH BLOOD

‘The Way We Are’ in glimpses

01:08 AM April 03, 2017

Many, many years ago, my now-late cousin, Naty Rosario Lim, invited me to join her on a pilgrimage to view the relic of the Holy Cross somewhere in Tarlac.

I asked her how many of us were going.

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Her reply: “The two of us, two elderly ladies, and two yayas.”

The next day, upon entering the van, I asked, “Where are the kids?”

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“There are none.”

“But I heard you say yayas.”

“They’re for the oldies behind us,” she whispered. It was the first time I heard the word used to refer to a caregiver. Today, of course, most seniors have them.

In fact, when preparing guest lists for occasions, one has to include the yayas and even drivers. Also, venues have to be wide enough to accommodate wheelchairs and, preferably, with no stairs.

To nonseniors, the expression “How are you?” is just a casual greeting. But for us it is the key to a recitation of aches and pains, doctors’ visits and tests of all kinds and the number of times these have to be done. Speaking of numbers, Linda Sebastian would often say, “All my numbers are up, it’s only my IQ that’s going down.”

To ward off Alzheimer’s, which is the seniors’ Enemy No. 1, we do crosswords, play mahjong and go ballroom dancing.

A big item in our budget is for medicines and doctors. Hospital bills may even wipe out time deposits. Thank God though for our senior citizen’s card.

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One Sunday, I had lunch with my daughter Gigi and her family at The Palms in Alabang. While standing in line before the soup station, I was spotted by the foreign chef who was going over the buffet table. He approached me and said, quietly, “Madam, you should not be standing here. Let me serve you.” He led me back to our table and brought me a bowl of soup.

A foreign chef serving a customer! Would that have happened if I didn’t
have white hair?

I belong to a Bible prayer group that meets every Monday morning. After every session, we go to lunch at different eating places.

Once, one of us had a hankering for halo-halo. We remembered Little Quiapo, which used to be near UST. We found one at the back of the Heart Center. We ordered the usual palabok-tokwa’t baboy combination and tall glasses of halo-halo. We remembered that when we were children, a glass only cost 10 centavos, and mongo con hielo and mais con hielo only 7 centavos. Remembering the past brought a lot of laughter.

On the way out, I heard a customer at a nearby table remark, “Ang tatanda na nila, pero ang sasaya pa din.”

It takes so little to give us pleasure.

For whatever reason, reunions seem to be in vogue these days. A couple of months ago, my good friend Lilia Gregorio Almario and her batch mates celebrated their 65th graduation anniversary at the College of the Holy Spirit (Holy Ghost at that time). For their number at the program, they danced and sang this song composed by Linda Acacia Torres to the tune of “My Favorite Things.”

Verse 1:
Maalox and nose drops, senior cards
for dining
Walkers and handrails, new dental
fittings
Bundles of letters tied up with strings
These are a few of my favorite things.

Verse 2:
Eye drops for cataracts, hearing
aids, eyeglasses
Polident, Fixodent, false teeth
in glasses
Pacemakers, wheelchairs, and porches with swings
These are a few of my favorite things.

Refrain 1:
When the pipes leak
When the bones creak
When the knees go bad
I simply remember my favorite things
And then I don’t feel so bad.

Verse 3:
Salabat and bibingka, hot soup with croutons
No spicy hot food or food cooked
with onions
Bathrobes and heat pads, warm hugs they bring
These are a few of my favorite things.

Verse 4:
Back pains, confused brains, ears hard of hearing
Thin bones and fractures, hair that
is thinning
And I won’t mention my short shrunken frame
When I remember my favorite things.

Refrain 2:
When the joints ache, when the
hips break
When the eyes grow dim
I simply remember the great life
I’ve had
And then I don’t feel so bad.

And with that number, High School Class ’52 brought the house down.

Let me end with the English poet Robert Browning’s famous lines:
“Grow old along with me,
The best is yet to be.”

Lourdes Syquia Bautista, 93, is a retired professor of the University of Santo Tomas. She is a widow with 12 children, 27 grandchildren, and 21 great grandchildren.

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