Thank goodness! | Inquirer Opinion
In the Pink of Health

Thank goodness!

One of the greatest opportunities that anyone can have is the chance to be able to say thank you to the person who has given you something to feel good or smile about, hope for, or make you believe that people and life in general, can be kind.


In the early days of clinical practice, I found myself in the company of more established colleagues planning for a conference. Being the youngest, I did not have the confidence that goes with experience or the encouragement to feel like I had something to contribute. A highly respected senior infectious disease specialist silently wrote down my name on a yellow sheet of paper to make sure that logistics-wise, I would have the needed support. Years later, after a successful annual convention, we found ourselves alone in a corridor of a hotel. Recounting the incident and remembering the way she smiled after she heard me express how thankful I was will always be a cherished memory. On the second year of her having gone up to be with the Lord, her husband invited me to a luncheon in her honor. Offering regrets as there was a momentous family event on the same day, I shared our story. He quickly said goodbye and messaged me immediately after. The exchange had left him speechless and crying after the phone call. Her goodness lingers.



“Please give these to your mom and say hello for me.” We had met because of work but never knew there was a childhood connection. Our mothers had worked in the same government office in the dental department. Rushing home and brandishing the sweets that symbolized a thoughtful and precious gesture, my mother was visibly touched and extremely happy that the little boy she had known was now very accomplished in his field of expertise.


“Thank you po for the opportunities.” How many of us have been recipients of such words of praise? Maybe a lot of hands would be raised. But, how many of us have been left a little overwhelmed or have taken the time to savor such words of gratefulness? Sitting in a room with two trainees on the last day of their two-year program brought on some reawakenings that made it harder to shake off the feeling that I should have invested more time and overextended an ear to get to know them better outside of work. While it was more than fulfilling to have the affirmation that their expectations were met and that being part of the institution and working closely with the staff in caring for patients had been instrumental in their personal and professional growth, it came as a surprise to hear that it would be helpful for the current and future batches to have a constant someone to run to with their personal problems. The open and honest conversations that ensued were cleansing in a lot of ways. It was also a lesson to be more mindful and self-aware.



“Do you happen to be related to the late auditor general?” I had been assigned to the surgical ward of the Veterans Memorial Medical Center and was assisting an elderly man maneuvering his crutches, as his lower leg had been amputated from complications of diabetes. His gaze swung from my white intern’s blazer to my face, as if seeking to find a resemblance. “I am his granddaughter po. Sa Commission on Audit po ba kayo nung araw?” He shook his head, rewarded me with a huge and grateful smile, and with tears in his eyes, quickly brought me near into a half-embrace as if I was a long-lost relative. Happy to know that someone knew of him, he went on to say how my grandfather was a highly respected official during his time. He remembered visiting him in his office in Manila, carrying a roasted pig. My Lolo got visibly irritated, paid for the lechon, and gave it back to him. That night I shared my story with my father whose words remain forever imprinted in my heart and mind. It was about the importance of protecting one’s family name, for that is the only true wealth that one can have a claim to. My Lolo had come from very humble beginnings and his education was largely through the help of an American uncle married to a relative of his. The couple eventually immigrated to the United States and one of the uplifting stories shared with the clan was of how he had taken the time to look for his gracious benefactor to personally thank him. By any measure, that was a feat. This was in the early ‘60s.



I would like to believe that no one has been spared of being a recipient of these two words and has been left unmoved. Remember to seize that opportunity to be the giver. Its value reverberates and can never be erased by time.

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TAGS: Fatima Ignacio Gimenez, opinion

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