Reminiscences of my text exchanges with Lou
Our close family friend, Maria Luisa “Lou” Torres-Morales (June 21, 1944-Sept. 24, 2023), wife of Dr. Dante Morales—brilliant cardiologist and director of the Manila Doctors Hospital—unexpectedly passed to the Great Beyond last Sept. 24. Here’s my humble tribute to her:
WHEN MY FAVORITE “BALAE” LINDA MANALAC PHONED ME, quivering saying, “Pare, our Kumare Lou died yesterday,” I was completely shocked, lost my balance, and fell on a nearby chair, fortunately, not on the bare floor. Then, I blurted, “Paki ulit nga, Mare. Were you saying that the happy and always smiling Lou Morales died? She looked so well and healthy when we had lunch in your home a week ago. What happened?” And Linda affirmed, “Yes, Pare, our dear Lou died yesterday. I do not know the details, but I will let you know the schedule of the wake later.”
As I sat motionless on that chair, streams of thoughts passed my consciousness. I was reminded how grief had overtaken me when my Leni passed, like Lou, so suddenly and so unexpectedly a few months ago. I also fell on a chair in the emergency room of Makati Med. And when I momentarily recovered, I carefully approached the lifeless body of my Leni covered with a white sheet, exposing only her serene and gentle face. I embraced her and uncontrollably sobbed, “I am sorry, honey, I failed you.” I unabashedly wept because I couldn’t do anything to help her.
AFTER RECOVERING FROM THAT INITIAL SHOCK but still sitting motionless on that chair, I reminisced how caring and empathetic Lou had been and how my Leni and I had broken bread regularly with both Dan and Lou during the Sunday family lunches hosted by Tong and Linda in their home. During those lunches, Lou would listen very well to the conversation. After hearing that I liked the buco pandan sherbet that was served, she sent to our home a gallon of my favorite ice delicacy, followed by a text, “It was a great pleasure seeing you and Leni at Linda’s … What a great meal we had but the company is even better … hope you enjoy more buco-lychee sherbet the rest of the week.”
Amused at seeing my Leni heartily munch her favorite corn cobs, she immediately sent dozens to our home and texted, “Please enjoy the corn cobs I sent. They could even be eaten uncooked. Just keep them in your ref.” She sent many more dozens in the following weeks.
Years ago, after learning from our chitchats that my Leni and I would be flying to Japan, she texted, “Have a very enjoyable stay in Japan. Please be sure you and Leni are equipped with winter wear. It was soooo cold in Japan plus some rain, too.”
When my Leni complained of having sore throat and could not engage in our usual tete-a-tete, she texted with perfect timing on our arrival at our home, “I highly suggest that she takes a lot of salabat. Ginger is very good for the stomach, too.”
Truly, showing her genuine care and quiet friendship, she always initiated Viber text exchanges with me once a week. Many times, it was about my column that she read regularly. May I quote a sample, “Thank you for your column yesterday. I can understand it even if I am not a lawyer. It was written in simple, clear, and easy English. I always look forward to reading your opinions. Happy Monday to you and Leni.”
Sometimes, she had no particular message but would still text once a week, like, “Have an enjoyable week ahead.” Or “Please stay safe and healthy.” Or “May your week be filled with fun and joy.”
UPON LEARNING OF MY LENI’S PASSING LAST APRIL 9, she immediately texted. “Leni was such a wonderful lady. Yes, she was the epitome of a real fine lady in every sense of the word. Now that she is gone, how we will all miss her. How I wish I had given her a big tight hug the last time I saw her. We love you, Leni; you will always remain in our hearts. Thank you for your legacy of being an example to all of us.”
I can go on writing and quoting her. But as I type these reminiscences of our text exchanges, tears well in my eyes. And I could break into sobs if I continued writing. So, let me just bravely sum up:
Lou was a true friend who was deeply compassionate, always thoughtful, always cheerful, humble to the point of self-deprecating, and loving to the point of self-sacrificing without expecting any requitement. She did not burden others with her problems, yet she always listened to the difficulties of her friends with an ever-patient ear. No problem was too small that did not get her attention and empathy. No problem was too big that she shied away from it. Quite the contrary, she would always offer her help. My admiration for her will never end, and our text exchanges will forever be etched in my memory.
Adieu dear Lou. Please say “Hi” to my Leni whom I am sure you will meet in heaven, and kindly extend my eternal love to her. And please prayerfully beg our Lord Jesus to bless and guide us here on earth whom you left behind, especially Dan. Until our joyful reunion in the Eternal Kingdom, we shall patiently bear our earthly pains and pines.
Comments to firstname.lastname@example.org