Roger, the Ilocano
By Virginia Jasmin Pasalo
ROGER Mangahas just passed away. It was quick, and as others said, it was merciful. Merciful because he did not suffer much. But how do we know what he suffered at the moment of a massive stroke?
I was in Pangasinan when I learned that he was comatose at the UST Hospital. When I arrived at the hospital the next day, Fe calmly told me the situation.
“It’s not good Gie. Every time the doctor appeared, there was bad news. He could go anytime.”
“Whatever happens, he is in God’s hands.”
“Napagusapan na namin to. Na pag kinabitan na ng kung ano-anong life support system, itigil na. Yung nakakabit sa kanya ay para tulungan siyang huminga at pagkain para lumakas siya.” (We already talked about this. That if life support systems were required, we will not revive. What is attached to him is to help him breathe, and for his nutrition.).
A nurse comes in, then quickly goes out. A doctor comes in. She checks the monitor. Then quickly goes out. A team of doctors get in. They adjust the controls, run their hands into his body and moved his head right and left. I could see Roger’s face getting red. No response. The doctor talks to Fe, Roger’s wife.
“His blood pressure continues to fluctuate. We are trying to stabilize it.”
Then they all go out. After an hour, his neurologist comes in. He goes through the body, the face, the monitors, and tells Fe:
“It’s not good. You have to prepare. He can go within the day.”
Immediately after the neurologist left the room, Fe squeezed herself in the narrow space to reach the headboard of the bed and whispered repeatedly in Roger’s ears, kissing his forehead, and his whole face.
“I love you Papa, I love you Papa, go peacefully, I love you Papa…”
His sister followed and whispered something in his ears, crying. I firmly gripped his foot, his hands, and thanked him for the friendship and the caring. The room rained with tears. The verses drowned. Fe and I sat down. I hugged her and realized the frailty of the woman who continued to exhibit strength and serenity even in the direst circumstances.
“You know, he forgot to take his medicine for three to five days. Or maybe he just did not think he should be taking it anymore. He told me he is depressed about taking a C-T scan to determine the cause of his forgetfulness, the state of the country, and the state of my relationship with one of my siblings.”
“That is how poets are, they take things very seriously.”
“What I realized is his frugality is so ingrained, an Ilocano through and through. He could afford branded medicines but he opted to buy the generic ones. The branded ones have better quality. Perhaps if he took them, he would have been better off. And it is almost like a crime, because as I went through his bank accounts, he had saved a lot.”
From the corner of my eyes, I could see Roger smile. Yes, he is frugal, but the couple never forgot to treat me on my birthday, in the best restaurants, on a full meal course of my favorite dishes and desserts. He valued relationships and would invest in them to the fullest. Yes, truly, his nationality is Ilocano.
in between the breath
the smell of mint
a hint of jasmine
a gentle passing
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