26 June, 2011

Three Weeks

I'm in Texas (or was)-where the weather's absolutely miserable- because of my Mom and Dad. Dad passed away peacefully at the house on the 17th of June with all of his family around him. After Dad finally came home from the hospital under the auspices of hospice care, we talked to him, read to him, doing everything we could to keep him comforted in his final days. In fact, our hospice nurse Denise, was so exceptional she seemed as if she was a part of our family whenever she was present. Quite an armada of (his circle of) friends came by and visited.

It's remotely bizarre-no, it's pretty damn bizarre--the preparatory work ensuring a funeral, internment/inurment/columbarium, and a memorial service-to go accordingly and timely. My brothers and I and our respective families are here doing the legwork so my Mom doesn't have to. Thankfully and appreciatively the funeral home as well as Mom and Dad's church we dealt with were superior in their relationship and services to us.

It's also especially cool how the community of friends and family are rallying around Mom and our family in our time of distress. The previously mentioned community brought so much food for us everyday it seemed like Thanksgiving. Been running with sweet Melissa to keep my personal growth to a minimum (although I'd say I'm losing).

Extended family and friends are starting to arrive in town so the house is getting packed. My next door neighbor's a class act and my Dad's first cousins are a hoot. One of the wives of the first cousins came in from Canada, she-Grace (there's a reason she has that name)-was a class act too. Listening to what they did back in the Philippines as teenagers/college students was educational for me. It painted a lively, contextual, historical picture in my mind of their interactions when they conversed as family members, friends, as well as their complicitous tomfoolery growing up (including some juicy gossip about them provided from my cousin Gerry). The most interesting history was how they lived and survived in the presence of the Japanese occupying forces in the Philippines. When family members are also your friends that's a major bonus kids!

My family came in on the 17th. Team M's quite the group. Have I mentioned how my family is righteous? The whole is better than the sum of the parts. Their behaviour and support speaks volumes of their personalities.

Dad's memorial service was exceptional. Mom wanted to have it at the church they've been attending for the past three decades. Not much of a religious kinda guy but the Reverend Gary Mueller had such presence and a command of the English language I was actually quite impressed with his reverence and relevance towards my Dad I felt I was in a sacred establishment. I can see why he's the leader of this congregation (as well as his support staff of equally amazing Reverends like Revs. Alice Coder and Melissa Hatch). Of course when your older brother eulogizes your esteemed father, it's difficult to keep your emotions inside. He-my older brother-spoke elegantly about my father: an exceptional father as well as an exception husband to my most amazing mother. My brother's speech and Rev. Mueller's presentation left quite an impression on me afterwards I think often about it. The pictures my brothers and I chose for the visual part of the memorial service got me choked up too. My father was quite the handsome fellah back in his heyday. I kid you not when I say he's the Filipino version of Clint Eastwood. Saw five dear friends at the Memorial Service too: (in no certain order) Jimmy, Kev-leb, Brent--collectively the Rajun' Cajuns--Brian (a teammate when we raced for Plano Schwinn) and Grant, my college roomy and once-upon-a-time complicitor. Good, loyal friends they are...It's the little things that creep into my brain that remind me of my Dad, that get me lachrymose. For example, after setting up Dad's bookshelf speakers in my home, I played Beethoven's Ninth and it reminded both me and Melissa of how much he loved listening to (classical) music. The randomness of items or events that evoke remembrances of my father...

My part of this journey began right after school got out on the sixth of June and we just arrived in Colorado last night-the 24th-after 13 hours of driving. The record high was 111°F (44°C) when we drove through Amarillo. Have y'all ever been to Amarillo during the summer? I bet after the Spanish word for Yellow, the runner up for the name of this town was Caliente. It's not finished yet. Some more items need to be attended to in my Mom's estate and we're-my brothers and our families-going to ensure that it flows seamlessly within the best interests of Mom. Sweet Melissa created a list of things to do to get my Mom's affairs in order. A little daunting because of my world class procrastination skills.

Rode Saturday the 25th-to begin my routines (and burn off the potential energy forming around me middle) and to place some modicum of mental sanity back into my mellon. Felt good to ride in Colorado away from that insufferable heat of Texas (although I miss my brothers and my Mom). Busted out a 31 miler on my 29er where 2/3rds of it was on roads and a third was singletrack. Back to the bidness of being Cycling Dad with episodes of traveling to Texas to helps out me Momma. Gonna try to participate in the Colorado Road Race Championships if I can do it without being pack fodder, otherwise who cares right?

If you're reading this and you have parents that are getting up there in years, you should consider getting the ball rolling in the eventuality of their passing with dignity with their estate in your hands as opposed to the State's. Just saying...

And another thing, don't be a dick to your parents. If you're a teenager you probably can't help it (like yours truly as a teenager) but maturity goes a long way (even if some parents--or you!--temporarily lack this). Be the good son or daughter to your folks unconditionally even if they might not be exhibiting rationale behaviour. Thankfully my Dad had a long, meaningful life where he and my Mom traveled and were surrounded by people who loved them and visited them often. My parents sacrificed and planned their estate in such a way their son's have it better than them. I'll never forget that and I'ma pay it forward to my kids and family to plan a retirement that's beneficial to Team M. You'll regret petty behaviour towards your folks (because you or they held a grudge, and they pass unpredictably quick), then you're stuck with some irreversible dumb $hit you could've avoided simply by taking the high road. Took that advice and I'm eternally grateful.

Have I mentioned how righteous my extended family members are?

Like my brother said in his eulogy, Dad, we love you and we're going to miss you.


The International Rambler said...

Sorry to hear about your dad. I hope writing about it has been therapeutic for you. Must be really hard for the kids too to lose their Grandpa so young. I feel really fortunate to be pushing 40 and still have one grandparent living.

Give our best to everyone on Team M. We're thinking about you guys.

Jeff and Mika

...it's me!... said...

Thanks Jeff. It is, writing about it. Mom's holding up pretty well.

Hez-Billy said...

"I bet after the Spanish word for Yellow, the runner up for the name of this town was Caliente"

--Classic Mike Mequi.

Loved the post. Choked me up. It's clear your dad was a good man. That's the gift that keep on giving.

...it's me!... said...

He was Hez Billy. He was. Hopefully I'll get to pay it forward...

M Haq said...

Mequi,you have no idea how many times I have been on your blog trying to find this entry about your father.

A very touching and exceptional entry. And I too, must admit that my team M's are also quite the group. On an ending note excellent choice of words when describing your family: "Their behaviour and support speaks volumes of their personalities."

...it's me!... said...

Thanks M Haq. Like my Dad, I'm certain your Father was a great man too.