Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Ate Cristy

The previous post about my grandfather Apong Leon and the melancholy state I had been in was brought on by the news that my sister-in-law, in Seattle, was back in the hospital. One of my sisters had called me with the news after my arrival in the United Kingdom on Sunday, 7 February, late in the evening. I received the phone call while we were driving from the Birmingham airport to a US Air Force installation in Alconbury. I was in the UK for a week for work. It was cold, dreary, and drizzly as we were trying to find our way to our destination. All my thoughts were with my sister-in-law and her family.

I left Germany on Sunday, 21 Feb, with a nephew who visited me in Germany on my way out.
I had one week in Seattle before I move on to a new job in Abu Dhabi. I arrived in Seattle later that same day and went to the hospital shortly thereafter. When I visited her at the hospital that same Sunday afternoon after my Seattle arrival, I realized then that her condition had quickly deteriorated. My sister and I planned to stay at the hospital for most of the day on Monday, the following day. We had been at the hospital no more than 20 minutes the following morning when she passed on.

I expected my one week transition spent in Seattle from my old job in Germany to a new position in Abu Dhabi to be a time to catch up with family and friends, prepare for my new posting in the Middle East, and do errands that I typically do while in Seattle (doctor and dentist appts., buy things that I will need, eat at restaurants whose food
I miss, etc.). I was not able to do many of these things because of the untimely death of my sister-in-law. I was glad that I was able to see Ate Cristy on her last couple of days. I was glad also that I was able to be there for my brother, my two nephews, my sister-in-law’s relatives, and our entire family to be able to provide moral support.

During Friday’s rosary at the funeral chapel, I wanted to share my happy experiences and memories of Ate Cristy.
I had volunteered to speak about my happy moments with Ate Cristy. Just in case, I had asked a nephew to be my back-up, if I got too emotional. I am not comfortable speaking in front of people. I can usually do it in front of the family, but it is another story in front of 200+ people. I was able to build up enough courage to finish the reading. There were a couple of times that I came close to losing it, but I was able to finish.

The following is what I read and related (with some nervous ad-libbing) to all the people that were there for the rosary:

We lost a strong presence in our family this past Monday. Ate Cristy, wife of my brother Edgie, passed on 22 Feb 2010 after six years of courageous battle against breast cancer.

I saw her at the hospital during my visit in
Seattle this past December. I knew then that things were not going well for her. I tried to engage her by showing pictures of her sister Leila and my sister’s garden during my visit of the Philippines prior to Christmas. She did not want to show her weak condition, so we laughed, “oohed and aahed” while viewing all my pictures. I arrived in Seattle this past Sunday and visited her at the hospital that same afternoon. Her condition had deteriorated fairly quickly. It was not long after my visit that she passed away, early the following morning. We had planned to stay most of that Monday at the hospital. It was just before 10AM that she passed on. I am thankful to have seen her during her last days.

I want to share a few of my happy experiences with Ate Cristy and fond memories of her. These are memories of her that I will always treasure – her face always gleaming with a warm smile. This is how I will always remember her.

Ate Cristy was a fun loving person, always joking around. Unfortunately, I am forever linked to the infamous Antonio Christmas Party White Elephant Gift Exchange caper of a few years back perpetrated by the duo of Mng. Edgie and Ate Cristy. I have no doubt that the ring leader was Ate Cristy. Yes, I was the poor victim of this family gift exchange. I was duped into picking a gift that when opened by me, with the entire family – young and old in suspenseful anticipation, turned out to be a porcelain doll. The entire audience laughed uncontrollably for what seems like eternity. I, in turn, started laughing. I’ve been had. It was the perfect caper. The plotter of this episode had planned the perfect prank, with me as the victim and Ate Cristy the prankster. Subsequent family Christmas parties now refer to this incident. Since, Ate Cristy and Mng. Edgie had not and continue not to admit their involvement with this prank, and since I have no doubt it was both of them who were the perpetrators, I have facetiously referred to the ringleaders as Misty and Wedgie.

Although Ate Cristy had the last laugh, I was also the lead planner of a great prank directed at her. Leah, Glen, Jay, and Sonya were the co-conspirators. This happened many years ago, summer time in Bainbridge Island at my sister’s house, a place of many fond family memories. I borrowed Glen and Jay’s binoculars and proceeded to smear lipstick on the eyepiece. I used the binocular and pretended to scope out a neighbor’s house across Tolo Road being so careful not to have the area near my eyes touch the binocular. I heartily called her and informed her that there was a man naked in front of the neighbor’s house. Ada lakay idiay sango ti balay nga labos – there is an old man across the street naked,” as I slyly passed the binocular to her. She had no choice but to try to see what the commotion was about. Yes, after placing the binocular eyepiece on her face, deep maroon-colored rings decorated the area around her eyes. She had raccoon eyes. I felt bad afterwards because it took her most of the day to clean off her face. But we laughed at her expense for the longest time. She took it well.

Ate Cristy was always the life of the party in all our family parties and gatherings. She always tried to outdo Manong Bong’s jokes. Most in the family laughed at Manong Bong’s jokes to be polite. The real jokes were from Ate Cristy because it always made us laugh boisterously. She was always on the ready for joke or a gag. She was always conspiring with Agnes to tease me or poke fun at me. She never failed to make me laugh.

Me being single and on my own, Ate Cristy never failed to include me in on their gatherings with Mng. Edgie, CJ, and Michael. Ate Cristy and Mng. Edgie invited me to join them on their first trip outside US, in Victoria, Canada. So believe it or not, I was there as a tag-along on their “official” honeymoon. I joined their family on a road trip to California. We had the best of time during our stops in all the tourist sites along the way. I have joined them on two trips back to the Philippines. I have hosted them a few times when I lived in Portland. It was always a great time being with her and the family.

They often invite me on their dinner and movie outings. One time in particular, I joined all four of them for dinner at a Chinese restaurant in Renton. Afterwards, we headed to a movie at a multiplex cinema in Southcenter. All five of us voted for which movie to go see. Ate Cristy, Mng. Edgie, CJ, and I voted for one movie (the title escapes me, but it was for older people); Michael voted for Toy Story – the movie with Woody and Buzz Lightyear. Four of us who voted for the “older people” movie cheered gloatingly at Michael that our choice won out --- majority wins. This must have been when Michael was in the 3rd or 4th grade. Michael then proceeded to cry out loud. So after 5 minutes of Michael crying and complaining, Michael won and we got to see the movie he wanted to see. It turned out to be a good movie that was enjoyed by all five of us.

I’ll be selfish a bit. I will miss all the yummy food and desserts that Ate Cristy prepared during our family gatherings. Her dishes were always the first one we put on our plate and her serving dishes were always the first one that were empty. I will never have the same scrumptious pecan tarts again. She was truly the Martha Stewart of our family – that’s a good thing.

Ate Cristy joined our family in the US during my senior year in high school, 1982. She stayed with us in our small family house in Beacon Hill before they moved to their own house. We connected right at the start, and developed a bond that will never be broken. She treated me like a little brother. I will miss her kindness, her humor, and her friendship. It will not be the same without Ate Cristy. Everyone will her presence during our regular family gatherings. Her outgoing personality will be sorely missed at our yearly family camping event. Mek had just started planning for this year’s event to be held at Orcas Island. She was thrilled and excited about this summer’s upcoming event.

I am grateful to have known such a wonderful person. I will always treasure all the happy times I shared with her. Ate Cristy, may you always rest in peace.

1 comment:

  1. thanks for sharing uncle alban.