How lucky could we get! The week ended with good news: Our longtime aqua aerobics teacher, Meya, was back after a two-year absence due to the pandemic.
Meya had lost her mom to COVID, on the very day her test results came out, and had to step up and look after her dad, much older than her mom and frailer, too, until she was betrayed by COVID. She had been his full-time caregiver until a suitable one by his own difficult standards was found, allowing her some life outside the family—and a resumption of our classes.
Indeed, we felt the difference working out under her after doing it on our own for a long time. Without her we only chatted and moved in the pool with vague purpose. If not for the natural endowments from the sun and the fresh air, surely we gained little health benefits, if at all.
Definitely nothing like having Meya back. She puts science and structure in the program—the sequence of movements, the pacing, the entire dynamics, all designed for seniors like us.
We have, however, cut our sessions down to twice a week, which works better for everybody, for me particularly—I’m still doing cardiac rehab twice a week and I don’t want to overreach.
I do—surely we all do—want to keep fit in order to maintain a certain quality and dignity of life in our sunset years. Gilda Cordero Fernando, a late mentor and dearest friend, had cautioned me about that. I watched her struggle for her freedom and independence; eventually her body surrendered to the wheelchair, but her spirit kept fighting.
“It’s the loss of privacy, I dread. I can no longer do anything without someone else’s help,” she told me. Still, she was blessed to the end, with a devoted family, loyal helpers, and a legion of friends and admirers who kept close by.
Sometimes I forget I’m now where Gilda was—she was 10 years my senior. There are times I know exactly where all my years have gone. In any case, all in all they have made for a happily balanced life.
Last Saturday Vergel and I felt especially upbeat—nothing like being in the company of the young. My three granddaughters—two sisters and one, the youngest, 14, living with us—met at SM Megamall to ice-skate. I was naturally excited just to be around. Vergel and I lunched and waited at a coffee shop while they had fun. It was our first time at the mall since the pandemic struck. Alas, just looking for where what was took such effort that I grew desperate for a chair. I didn’t realize how huge SM Megamall was!
Suddenly, Vergel turns to me and blurts out, as if it had just occurred to him, “Ang tanda na natin, Chit!”
I looked around for a mirror to check, and mercifully there was none close enough to give me no excuse. Worse than seeing how we looked was the feeling of how we had slowed and easily tired. This giant whale of a mall obviously was not for senior walkers. We’d have been better off on a bench in some park, watching the rest of the world walk by.
Soon enough, we did the next best thing: We drove home, and left the young ice-skaters to themselves.
Indeed, there are moments when I’m made fully aware of my age, as upon realizing the reality of our politics, particularly after Leni Robredo and all my senators lost in the elections.
That “This too shall pass,” as they say, presumes one has the luxury of time. But since I don’t have that luxury, and have seen enough grim realities come and go, and come again, I like to think I have developed a healthier perspective—for my age.
When Joseph Estrada became president, I thought no one could make a worse one, until Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, and then Rodrigo Duterte! Oh, was I ever wrong being hopeful: We have Marcos again! What, then, do I know and what can I say? I’m busy enough trying to stay well.
Besides, I’ve seen this before. One dinosaur egg survives the intended annihilation of its species in the first “Jurassic Park,” there’s “Jurassic Park 2,” after “Godzilla” there’s the “Son of Godzilla,” after Dracula, again, the son. And after Marcos 2, “The “Daughter of Maleficent?”
This is all proving too much for my attention span; it could even take away from my precious day naps. INQ