My father (we all call him Amma) spends most of his time in the Philippines, where he is staying with my stepmother. He usually visits the US at least once a year for yearly medical check-ups and retrieve his medications. He stays in Seattle for about 2-3 months then returns to the Philippines. This has been a fairly constant schedule since 2000. His most current visit was late February and stayed in Seattle until mid-April. I was able to see him during my one week visit in Seattle in late February.
Due to his age and COPD (chronic bronchitis and emphysema), travel from the Philippines to Seattle, and return has become a major encumbrance on him. He had been a life-long smoker, from a very young age until he was in his early 60's, when his doctor straightforwardly told him that he had to quit smoking if he wanted to live longer. He did quit, but it was too late to reverse the damage done to his lungs. His lung condition brings on asthma-like attack with more regularity. The morning of my flight to DC from Seatle for orientation to my new job in the UAE, he woke me up to ask him to take him to the emergency room because of breathing difficulty. I had asked an older brother to take him to the hospital. I was restless and was about to cancel my flight until my brother called me to inform me that he would be okay. This was probably his last visit to the US. We will just have to visit him in the Philippines more often.
Most of his grandkids and great-grandkids were able to give him the proper send off back to the Philippines this past April. My father has always been a strong-willed and stubborn individual. I would not be surprised if he insists in visiting Seattle again.
Picture with grandkids and great-grandkids:
My father turned 86 this past weekend. All of us - his kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids - are all in the US. My oldest sister who has moved back to the Philippines is currently in Seattle babysitting her grandkids. A great family friend, who has also become our surrogate sister, in Cuyapo was nice enough to throw a surprise birthday for him at our home village in Tagtagumbao. She planned a nice event with plenty of food and invited neighbors to celebrate this wonderful day with him. There are very few pictures where my father wears a smile. Some of the pictures sent to us taken during his surprise birthday bash, show him with a wide grin - a sight rarely seen. I was overjoyed to see the pictures from the occasion and him having a delightful time.
I want to thank Ms. Lilian Castillo, currently the Chief of Police of our hometown Cuyapo, who made this all possible. Speaking on behalf of the Antonio Family, we appreciate your great deed. As all great deeds, this will never be forgotten.
The following are a few pictures of the occasion:
My father with Ate Lilian (w/ the headband), my stepmother, and a cousin's daughter
My father with a big fat grin, along with my stepmother, my father's older sister, and a neighbor.
His birthday cake. When they were "fishing" to find out how old he was, he told them the wrong age. That is why the cake has "88" rather than "86".
Blowing out the candles.
Yes, that is a smile from my father. I think he is trying hard not to smile.