Love me now! | Inquirer Opinion
High Blood

Love me now!

Many senior citizens live alone, like me. We manage as best as we can. Some are able to move around despite aches and pains. Many need help, but where to get it? Where have all the children gone? Gone to live their own lives, everyone!

Three days ago, an elderly woman in my building suddenly died of a heart attack. She lived very quietly; I saw her once or twice in the elevator, which seems to be the most-used meeting place of everyone living here.

Well, she died, may God keep her soul and may she rest in peace. Now come residents and the building maintenance crew inviting me to join them at her wake. I excuse myself. I say that at my age, I don’t attend lunches, parties of all kinds, baptisms, weddings, hospital visits, and funeral affairs.

My friend Alma drops by and we go downstairs to my favorite hangout. And here again comes a procession of people urging me to go with them to the wake. Yeah, I say, OK, if you insist, but only after my friend and I have had our halo-halo. They leave as we take our sweet time with the halo-halo. The place has the softest, whitest, finest shaved ice, and who wouldn’t go for that?


This brings me to wonder why most of the building residents who didn’t even know her well—we often ignore one another even in the confines of our tiny elevator—are falling all over themselves to buy flowers and Mass cards and rushing to her wake.

I tell them: When I go—and I hope the Lord is not too eager for my company yet—please don’t bring me flowers. You can send those flowers, chocolates, love and money to me now while I can enjoy them, and thank ye all. I know, I’m a bit odd, but who cares?

Early this month we saw people in a mad rush to the cemeteries bearing brooms, pails, fans, towels, food, flowers, drinks…. We do this once a year, to show our love for the ones so sorely missed. Big deal! Why not visit once a month or, maybe, once every three months? One driven man even got himself a life sentence in prison just for parking space.

Well, here’s a poem from long ago, author anonymous, and expressing exactly what I feel: “If you’re ever going to love me, love me now while I can know / All the sweet and tender feelings which from real affection flow / Love me now while I am living; do not wait until I’m gone / And then, chisel it in marble, warm love words on ice-cold stone / If you’ve, Dear, sweet thoughts about me, why not whisper them to me? / Don’t you know it’d make me happy and as glad as glad could be? / If you knew someone was thirsting for a drop of water sweet / Would you be so slow to bring it, would you step with laggard feet? / There are tender hearts all ‘round us who are thirsting for our love / Why withhold from them what nature makes them crave all else above? / I won’t need your kind caresses when the grass grows o’er my face / I won’t crave your love and kisses in my last low resting place / So, then, if you love me any; if it’s but a little bit / Let me know it now while living, I can own and treasure it!”

Shirley Wilson de las Alas, 78, has lived alone for the past nine years.

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TAGS: death, love, Senior citizen, solitude

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