Precious Moments

The moment I found out that their College had a quarter break in September and my son had five days to spare, I immediately got him a plane ticket home. (And because he is favored, I was able to get the ticket at a really good price!)

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My son’s home!!! 

We didn’t tell anyone that he was coming home, only my husband and I knew about it… but I scheduled a family dinner (with my parents, mother in law, siblings, brother-in-law, and nephews) at my sister’s house the day my unico was supposed to arrive. My sister thought I was getting depressed that’s why I was insistent on having dinner with the family.   Little did they know…

We told my son not to enter with us and to wait a few minutes outside the house so it will surprise them more when he enters. 

And so we were all mostly at the living room… my mom was saying it would have been nice if my son was around so we were complete, my dad kept asking me for updates on college activities… my nephews were just there hanging out with the adults, trying not to act bored…

On cue, my son knocked on the door — didn’t wait for anyone to open it — then entered and said, “Hi!” 

My older nephew let out a low, shocked, “HUH!!!” Followed by a high-pitched “What?!” from the younger one. My mom stared at his eldest grandchild for a good three minutes, not recognizing him, thinking we had another guest. Eventually she realized who she was staring at, stood up and hugged him tight. My dad asked me if I knew he was arriving — uhm, yes, father, I bought his ticket! 🙂  My sister who was slowly coming down from the stairs saw him and stared hard before realizing she wasn’t dreaming. 

It was a good surprise. It was nice night for a family reunion. 

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Act surprised, Leandro!

Family is 

The days passed in a blur. 

My son had homework to do, papers to write and submit, so it was somewhat a working vacation for him. Yet whenever possible, we took the time to go out and do things together. 

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Malling

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Hanging out with my dad 

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Buying groceries

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Eating some more… 😉 

He also spent a day at his old high school, visited his teachers and friends.

When at home, he would spend his hours reading or writing. We didn’t always have good, meaningful conversations because he had “stuff to do,” and there were plenty moments like this…

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Spongebob, how cute are you??!

I didn’t really mind much. He was home… that’s all that mattered! 

Besides, I can always pester him like this… 

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Me: Smile for mommy! Him: Why??! Me: Because I said so… 😉

It was a short break. Before we knew it, he had to fly back to Singapore. 

But then one thing I know for sure is that the moments spent together, no matter how fast — or how short — will always be precious.

Sooner or later he will be busier. He will be more settled in school or swamped with more activities, that staying at the dorm would seem like a better option than coming home. 

As our children grow older, they begin to need us less and less. And so we make the most of the moments when we can still hold them near. 

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Off to the airport. Again.

We make the most of the moments we share and spend with our loved ones because ultimately these are the moments that matter, right? 

Hello and goodbye…

These are the moments that put a smile in our hearts and give meaning to our lives. 

 

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This, to me, is the loneliest place on earth… 😦

 

photos are all mine

 

 

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Beautiful Minds

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We do have a number of things in common 

One Christmas season many, many years ago, my mom and I spent a morning sorting the Christmas gifts we bought, making sure we had all the gifts properly labeled and checking who else we missed buying a gift for.

We came across this big box, beautifully wrapped, yet unmarked. No name on the card, no secret marks, whatever. My mom wondered out loud whose it was supposed to be. I said I didn’t know… because truly, I didn’t recognize the box when I first saw it.

And so my mom fidgeted. She held on to the box, turned it around, surveyed it up and down, weighed how heavy it was, shook it over and over, hoping the sound that it makes will make her remember what was inside.

After a few minutes, I realized that it was supposed to be our Christmas gift for her. My sister was the one who bought and had it wrapped, that’s why I didn’t recognize the box right away. Casually I told my mom to just leave the gift alone. But before I could stop her, she tore off the gift wrapper and ripped the box open.

After taking a peek at what’s inside, she got more confused. In a daze, she muttered, “I don’t remember buying this…”

“Why don’t you just put it back?”  I said, trying to salvage whatever’s left of the surprise.

In a tone full of dread and with sheer panic in her eyes, my mom said, “My memory is failing me!!!”

At that point, I knew I had to confess. I told her that she wouldn’t remember nor recognize the gift because she did not buy it. I told her that the gift was supposed to be for her – but now she ruined the surprise.

I also told her that no, her memory was not failing her. Not yet, at least.  

She was probably, at that time, the same age as me now.

That line — My memory is failing me — became a running joke between us, though.

I have always prided myself with having a good memory.

I’m the type who can tell a story of something that happened ages ago and I can remember and relay the details like they just happened yesterday. Try doing something bad to me and most likely I will remember it for life (holding a grudge is another thing, though).

Lately, however, I seem to forget things quite easily. Small things, like passwords… or people’s names… or where I put things.

Like this afternoon, I realized I was losing an ID card. I knew I used it sometime in the not so distant past, but I just couldn’t recall when, where and why. I knew my husband had something to do with it… I insisted that I entrusted the ID to him. But I couldn’t remember why so I started doubting my memory.

Whenever this happens, me not remembering something, I can’t help but panic.

I’ll first try to rack my brains to remember the detail that I forgot… When racking my brains doesn’t work, I’ll freak out internally – all the more reason for my brains not to cooperate.  And then I will start feeling bad, and resignedly sigh, “My memory is failing me.”

But I am much too young to accept that. 😦

Just recently, I watched CNN’s Fareed Zakaria talk to neuroscientist Lisa Genova about Alzheimer’s disease — a progressive disease that destroys memory and other mental functions*– and how to prevent it.  It was a very informative segment.

According to Ms. Genova, one can have the disease for some time without it manifesting right away. She said we can actually help prevent the advancement of the disease. Having enough good sleep, exercising, having a heart healthy diet, are among the things that one can practice to stave off the disease. Basically, I believe she meant taking care of one’s body by having a good lifestyle.

One more thing she mentioned was learning new things.  It is more than just restoring knowledge that’s already there. She pointed out that learning new things make you build and connect new neural connections, or synapses. This, I deduced will help keep your brains from degenerating.

The human brain is a beautiful, complicated organ. Like the muscles in your body, the brain can be trained to improve its function. And for it to stay healthy, it requires great care, exercise and yes, stimulation.

One is never too old to learn something new. In a way, the more we use our brains, the more we keep it from getting old fast. Interesting, huh?

After watching that segment, I made a resolve to care for my brains and keep it as healthy as possible. I promised to be more mindful of things, make an effort to remember names and details.  I will read more and learn new words. I will also write more… and use the new words that I learned.

I will learn new things.  

Besides, a beautiful mind complements a beautiful face, right? ❤

***

PS…

I found the ID I was looking for. I racked my brains, retraced my steps, and proved my memory did not fail me. It was with the file that I gave to my husband. He couldn’t remember having it at all! So I blame him. 😉

 

*****

Credits and sources:

*Alzheimer’s disease definition from Mayo Clinic.

Fareed Zakaria is a journalist and author. He is the host of CNN’s Fareed Zakaria GPS. You may watch his segment on Alzheimer’s via CNN video.

The picture is mine 🙂

One Fine Day at Downton

I am not really a TV person. I choose the shows that I watch. I have a friend who is so into local teleseryes and Koreanovelas. Nope, I can’t stand those.

I will sound snobbish, but I truly can’t stand the crying-shouting-slapping-more shouting-then more crying scenes that local teleseryes seem to have a lot of.  I can’t take too much drama. I think life is challenging as it is, and watching depressing shows won’t do anything to uplift one’s morale. 

I am more of a Criminal Minds, CSI, How to Get Away with Murder and Game of Thrones person. Okay, also Grey’s Anatomy — when McDreamy was still with them.

Several years ago, however, I discovered this British historical period television series which piqued my interest. It was set in the 1920’s and it followed the lives of the fictional Crawley family and their servants. 

The show’s title: Downton Abbey.

After watching several episodes — I think the show was already on its third season then — uhm, I had no choice but to get hooked. Remember I said I don’t like drama shows? Well this one is every bit a drama series. Minus the shouting. And the hysterics. The characters can get angry without raising their voices — they can tell someone off while still looking classy and dignified.  I loved it! This kind of drama I was able to stand. 

It was still a soap opera… it just happened to be British. And, oh, do they make elegance look so easy.

I found myself searching for and watching online the episodes that I missed. I fell in love with the characters — my favorites being Lady Mary Crawley (played by Michelle Dockery) and the Dowager Countess of Grantham, Violet Crawley (Maggie Smith). Being the fan that I am, I hang onto their every word. Okay that sounded creepy, but Violet Crawley had really good one-liners that would make one laugh even while watching alone.

I remember a friend telling me that watching Downton Abbey was like watching paint dry. Oh well, to each his own. I enjoyed watching this paint dry. 😉

After my husband and I dropped off our unico in his residential college, we still had a couple of days to spare in Singapore.  And because I am greatly favored, guess what?! There was an ongoing Downton Abbey Exhibition at Marina Bay Sands while we were there!! 

Of course we had to go! I was sooo excited. I was like a little girl on Christmas morning. My husband was like, Downtown what?! (And yes, he only got the Downton right halfway through the exhibit…)

And so with much pleasure, I am sharing with you some photos that I took…

My Downton Abbey Experience (of a Lifetime!!)

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Tickets to my other world…

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The Downton Abbey

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The patriarch, Lord Robert Crawley, Earl of Grantham

Obviously my favorite character, Lady Mary Crawley, the eldest of the Crawley daughters

She’s beautiful, smart, confident and headstrong. What’s not to admire??

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 The three Crawley daughters, Edith, Mary and Sybil

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Adorable little George, Lady Mary’s son.

Some of Lady Mary’s to-die-for wardrobe; Lady Mary’s bedroom

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Believe it or not, I used to have one of these growing up… 

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Where the interesting Crawley dinner conversations take place…

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Servants’ dining area downstairs… where the conversations are even more interesting!

Lobby leading to the exhibition

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Dear Mr. Carson (Jim Carter), the Head Butler of Downton Abbey

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It’s Downton, dearie, not Downtown!!

Downton Abbey was created by Julian Fellowes and co-produced by Carnival Films and Masterpiece. It ran for six seasons, airing first in the United Kingdom in 2010. The final episode also served as the Christmas episode and was shown December 2015.*

I used to watch it on Diva TV — normally catching it Sunday mornings. After the series ended, I just waited for the reruns. Like so… 

… and because I am such a fan, I didn’t really mind.

Mary

One fine Downton Abbey Sunday morning in May 2014… as documented in my Instagram account. 🙂

“Vulgarity is no substitute for wit” – the Dowager Countess Violet Crawley

❤ ❤

 

*Downton Abbey information from Wikipedia

Downton Abbey The Exhibition, Marina Bay Sands, July 31, 2017; photos are all mine

A Whole New World

If you are wondering why I have been awfully quiet these past few weeks (and you don’t follow my Instagram and Facebook accounts) — well, the time has come. No, my Game of Thrones friends, I didn’t mean winter…

I was referring to my son’s College Move In Weekend… Though now that I think about it, the experience felt very much like a GoT episode — exciting, yet dreadful at the same time. Minus the gore, of course.

I digress. Anyway, so two weeks ago we brought the unico hijo to Singapore for College. After all the planning and the preparation and the psyching of one’s self (I am talking about myself here), when the actual day comes that you have to let go of your child’s hand and leave him to fend for himself… well, you are never really sure if you are ready or if your heart will not cave in when you see your child walking away from you.    

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Our customary “off to school” photo 

But then this is what parents do, right? We raise our children to be the best that they can be and we offer them the greatest opportunities possible. We allow them to experience things on their own, not always under our shadow, so they can grow. 

That Sunday afternoon as we were saying goodbye — he has already moved in to his residential college while his father and I were headed back to our hotel — my son’s last words to us were, Will you be okay?” 

I knew he was merely referring to the commute from the College back to the hotel, us being ‘tourists’ and all.  My head asked my heart the same question, though… Will I be okay? 

I know I will miss his presence in the house. I know I will have to get used to an empty bedroom across mine. I will miss our nightly chats over dinner. The house will seem bigger, quieter…

But when I think of the whole new exciting world that he is entering… When I think of the vast opportunities and meaningful experiences ahead of him, all the learnings that will make his life richer and will make him a much better person still, I am assured that there is no reason not to be okay. Everything will be well.

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No goodbyes, just see you later!

So yes, I will be okay. And so will he. 🙂 

❤ ❤ ❤

new world

His home for four years 

 

*****

photos are all mine 🙂 

 

 

 

That Yellow Lab Named Bunso

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King of the Outdoors

Our 7 year old pet labrador’s death last week did not come as a shock. He had been ill for a couple of months already. We have gone to the vet quite a number of times and three times we had to leave him there so they can observe and monitor his condition closely. 

It started with hind leg paralysis caused by blood parasites. Then he had kidney issues. Both the blood parasites and kidney issues were resolved, but not the paralysis. Every time he tried to move or walk, he had to drag his right hind leg. Eventually he got tired of trying. He seemed to have lost the will to move, even to stand. His pressure points began having sores and wounds which we had to clean and dress twice a day, every single day. 

Maybe in his mind our dog was thinking labradors were born to run wild and free… that it goes against their nature to stay still and be immobilized by paralysis, sores and wounds. 

In our minds, once his wounds are thoroughly healed, we can send him to a dog therapist so his hind leg can regain movement. Because that was the plan. We would solve the blood and the wound issues first and then we can explore the leg therapy option so he can walk again.

But how do you explain that to a dog? Does he truly understand what you are saying whenever you give him the reassurance that everything will be okay? When he looks into your eyes with that loving, doggie look of his, is he saying, yes he understands what’s happening — or is he merely trying to tell you that he is in pain?

Or is he just trying to tell you how thankful he is for the love and care that you are showing him?

Eventually the vet discovered other complications. Supplements and pain medications can only manage whatever pain he may have. The meds may make him a bit more comfortable, but they won’t cure him. We knew that sooner or later he would go. We prayed it would be later — much, much later. 

Our dog never regained the energy that he had prior to his illness…Yet he had a way of showing us that he was happy and content enough just having us around him. 

I guess we will never know how much physical pain he was feeling all throughout. He would cry, he would whimper, he would bark and call our attention, but the moment someone is with him, he keeps quiet. Like he just wanted company.

Much like all those times he kept us company when we were alone outside. No frills, no expectations, just silent companionship, selflessness and yes, unconditional love.

Our dog’s death did not come as a shock… but that doesn’t make it any less painful for us. Our hearts are broken just the same.

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How do you say goodbye? 

I realized recently that I wrote about him years back, when he was still a puppy. The article came out in Action and Fitness Magazine.

I was a newbie dog owner then. I didn’t know anything about dogs, I never had pets before because — well, I guess I was afraid of the responsibility and the attachment. 

Thought of sharing with you said write up…

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He was a puppy once… 

A Girl’s Best Friend  

By: Betsy G. Ochosa

They say that a dog is a man’s best friend.  They are very loyal and they will love you unconditionally (yes, i am still talking about the dog). 

I, for one, never experienced such friendship with an animal because i never — ever — had a pet when i was growing up.  Oh, okay, so maybe i had a fish. But what relationship can you have with a fish, right? (especially when their life expectancy isn’t exactly that long)

The other day, we bought my son a labrador puppy.  We promised to get him one for his birthday and we searched far and wide to get the “right” one.  We were directed to someone who really knows about dogs and breeds champions.  After visiting her house and seeing her litter of 8, we ended up choosing the youngest of the bunch.  Youngest, and definitely biggest, of them all.  Welcome to our world, Mr. big, yellow, labrador puppy… We called him “Bunso” for being the youngest.

Yesterday, Bunso’s second day here, he was just content playing inside his crate… or sleeping mostly.  He almost never made a sound. He only barked when he needed to go (out of his crate to do his thing… he IS well trained for a two-month old).  Come early evening, my husband got a little worried that he was lethargic.  He seemed too laid back for a labrador! (Though that really isn’t an issue with me because I like being stress-free and laid back…But the hubby is type A, and he knows more about dogs…)

10:00pm… just about the time we were preparing to sleep… Bunso suddenly realized he had too much stored energy… and decided to bark… and howl… and wake the whole household up.  Maybe he’s from another time zone.  He was just so awake!  And worse, he wanted to play.  He eventually calmed down after an hour of playtime.

… and stayed calm until 4:30 in the morning… and then he barked… and howled… and growled… and gave this guttural cry that seemed to sound like he was begging for someone to wake up and play with him again – or at the very least, mind him.  Of course he had his way… we couldn’t risk having the neighbors reporting us to village administration for disturbing the peace at 4am.

It is almost 12 noon as I am writing this and Bunso, so far, has been pretty calm.  I have to thank my helper, of course, for simply being there because I know that I won’t be able to handle this guy alone.  I can only play with him while he’s inside the crate… or when someone else is holding him… and when i’m wearing jeans… I’m still a newbie puppy owner and I haven’t insured my legs yet so i won’t even attempt to pretend i know how to handle a playful giant of a puppy like this one.

But i know he already knows me.  He goes to the side of his crate and lies down so i can rub his fur, and he’ll just calmly stare at me… like he’s memorizing my face– and my voice –or maybe finding out a way grab my long hair.  It’s like he knows that he is stuck with me for the most part of his everyday – so he might as well know the face that goes with the hand that would feed him.  When i stood up to take a walk, he stood up as well, and started howling the moment i was out of his vision. 

It is a challenge taking care of another living creature.  But I believe the rewards are great.  Hopefully Bunso will be as loyal to me as he will be to the rest of the family. I pray that he grows up – grows old — with us, and will love us unconditionally.  Hopefully, my legs will never get bitten nor scratched… And that we get to share many wonderful years and memories with him. 

In time I will get to say that a dog can be a woman’s best friend, too. 

Bunso was with us for 7 years. He was our welcoming committee… always the most excited every time one of us comes home. He was too friendly to the mail and delivery men that we couldn’t call him a ‘guard dog.’  Several times we would catch neighborhood kids scratching his back, petting him, as he positions himself by the gate. He was happy enough just resting his heavy head on my feet whenever I was outside. I helped take care of him, I got attached, but I didn’t mind. Because of him I experienced the joys that come with having a pet.

Yes, he showed us unconditional love. 

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Goodnight My Sweetie 

Hopefully we were able to give him seven good years.

 

*****

Bunso, April 21,2010 – June 23, 2017.

Photos are all ours. Article “A Girl’s Best Friend,” first published in Action and Fitness Magazine, 2010.