May 16 2015

Dancing like crazy at the bank

Adel Gabot

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6:27AM

I had to accompany my Dad to one of his banks yesterday morning, to the Armed Forces and Police Savings and Loan Association, better known as AFPSLAI, in Camp Aguinaldo at the corner of EDSA and Boni Serrano.

AFPSLAI is a humongous building inside the camp, and is a very busy one at that. Lots of people go there to conduct bank business everyday, retirees, active soldiers, their family members and regular people. It has this massive air-conditioned room at the ground floor with many counters and TV screens showing numbers and wait times.

There are rows and rows of seats for the waiting bank customers there, and I was seated at one of them at the back, waiting for my Dad’s number to be called. I had brought my Kindle so I could while away the time reading; I figured there would be a long wait, and I was right.

I had been reading for a while but there was a tickling sensation at the back of my neck, as if there was a fly buzzing around there. I turned around and was startled to see a kid—well, not a kid really; he was on the cusp of puberty, around 12 or 13 years old—dancing behind me like crazy.

He was jumping around and doing acrobatics in place right behind me, completely lost in his actions, and he was doing it all in silence. There was no music, except for the one playing in his head, but he had no headset clamped to his ears and no iPod or other music player in sight.

The kid was breakdancing in a crowded bank. Quietly.

He was a skinny kid, wearing a white tank top with a small towel tucked in over his back the way moms usually put small towels in, in a misguided effort to keep the sweat from his back and keep him from getting a cold, or as my late Mom put it, keep him from getting “pulmonia”. (Yes, it was done to me too, way back when.)

This kid was breaking out all the moves, and then some. He moonwalked and his arms were like jelly, contorting into different configurations, and he was working up a sweat. Was there something wrong with him, acting this way? I pointedly stared at him, in the hopes that it would shame him into stopping, but he was oblivious.

Either he was mentally compromised, or had some unique kind of autism. But no—he would stop every so often to drink from his bottle of Tropicana, which his mom held for him while he danced. He would act normally then, and his mother didn’t seem to think anything was wrong.

In fact, most of the people around him were acting as if it was all a normal thing. That, or they were embarrassed for the kid and desperately pretended nothing was amiss, which was the more likely case.

The kid kept doing it the whole time I was there, which was a considerably long time, almost an hour and a half. He would stop and rest for a few minutes, sitting quietly beside him mom and drinking his Tropicana and fussing about with an old Samsung cellphone, and then he would suddenly stand up and begin dancing again.

When we left, he was still breakdancing like a loon.

How friggin’ bizarre.


May 10 2015

In the shop

Adel Gabot

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9:40AM

My poor brother Burt.

His car, a two-door Isuzu Jimmy SUV, over ten years old, is in the shop, busted with a messed-up engine and camshaft. The shop estimates P100,000 worth of repairs to be done over a three-week period. I guess it’s cab rides for him for the duration; he doesn’t take well to jeepney and bus rides, never has. He’s not like me, who can ride anything without getting nauseous.

He came over yesterday (in a cab, of course) to lend me his Apple charger to test my MacBook Pro on (and yes, it was my charger that was acting up; I gotta find a replacement quick), and to complain about his car. Dad’s gonna help him with the payment for the repair, God bless him.

He came in at 4PM and stayed for dinner, and got caught up in a bout of bad weather in the early evening and had to stay until it cleared up before he could take a cab ride back home, which was around 9.

While he was here I gave him my old Adonit Writer keyboard set, which I didn’t need anymore since I sold my iPad. I hadn’t been using it anymore anyway even if I still had the iPad, since the frame holder got broken a couple of years ago and I couldn’t fix it. He was welcome to the Bluetooth keyboard though, I think that still works.

While he waited out the rain, he also copied from me a bunch of TV episodes, music videos and a YouTube clip he asked me to download for him some weeks ago, some documetary about the Thorium reactor he seemed to be interested in.

Busywork, I think. He didn’t want to show it, but he was worried about his car. So would I, if I were in his position.

Pity about the repairs. Should set him back a lot.


Apr 28 2015

So we visited

Adel Gabot

11:15AM

We went to Jim’s hospital yesterday to pay him a visit.

I had met up with Burt in a mall near his office around 4, and together we drove down to Medical City.

Jim wasn’t in his room when we arrived; he’d gone down to the fourth floor Operating Room for one of his stop-gap procedures. His mother, Tita Narsing, was there waiting in his room, however.

If you’d ever stopped to shoot the breeze with our Tita Narsing, you’d know that she always tends to run her mouth off endlessly, telling us all sorts of tales of her adventures with friends, her misadventures with her family, her exploits abroad, her marital life, and everything in between. Which was again the case this afternoon.

In between her many kwentos though, she also managed to tell us her sadness and her regrets concerning her son Jim, and his wife and kids, and how difficult a time this was for their family. My heart went out to her.

When Jim was finally wheeled into his room later that evening, I was struck by how much he had changed since the last we saw him. He was now nearly bald, the result of chemotherapy, and his body had wasted away to a sorry mess.

When he arrived he was wearing an oxygen mask and was festooned to a wild riot of tubes and medical gear, and it was difficult trying to decipher his mumbling under all of that. When they settled him in and removed the mask and some of the gear, he was a bit more understandable.

He still cracked his jokes, after a fashion, and showed the same old spunk he always had, albeit very toned down now.

We could see that he really didn’t have much time left, and it was likely the last time he’d be in the hospital.

He has already signed a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) order the night before, and he seemed resigned to his fate. It could only get worse. The cancer had already spread to his liver, kidneys and lungs, and it was just a matter of time before it spread to his brain, if it hadn’t already had.

But he was still there, fighting the good fight, all the way to the end.

We’ll keep visiting, and hoping.


Apr 27 2015

Bad time for my relatives

Adel Gabot

11:02AM

Just got a text telling me that my cousin Jim is in a bad way, and might be close to passing away.

He’s always been sick of something or another, and as we grew up it got worse. He had several operations in recent years, and it hasn’t been looking good. Last time we saw him, earlier this year, he’s been in the hospital to take care of some polyps in his kidney or something like that. Coupled with his heart condition and diabetes, we’d gotten more worried, but he pulled through, just barely.

He’s always been the wild, crazy one in the family. Relatively speaking. They lived in GSIS Village back then, and we only saw them when we paid them a visit, which was months apart, sometimes years. But when we got together it was as if we’d just seen each other the day before, and we carried on as if that was actually the case.

Their side of the family had four kids, two older guys and two younger girls. Jim was the oldest, and closest to me in age, so we got along well. Although, strangely, my strongest memory of him was how he liked to browse through the pictures in comic books and see the ending first before going back to read the whole thing. The writer in me always got riled up about that. But that was Jimmy.

This time the call isn’t just bad news. According to Edna, this may be it. We’re going to visit him at the Medical City in Ortigas later and see what’s up. And maybe prepare for the worst.

A couple of weeks ago, my Dad’s youngest sister had a stroke, and is in a hospital ward in Marikina. I’m sure you remember the circumstances of her condition, I wrote a post about it some time ago. It was a really hairy, messy affair, and I’d rather not go through the details again.

With my Dad advancing in years, and his side of the family getting on as well, and Ate Edna the way she is, I’m getting worried.

I wonder who’s going to get it next.

Suffice it to say, it isn’t a good time for the family.


Apr 12 2015

Auntie

Adel Gabot

My Dad, brother and I went to visit my Dad’s sister, our Auntie Auring, at the hospital yesterday.

My cousin Sionee called up Friday afternoon to tell us that Auntie had been brought to the hospital near where Auntie lived in Marikina. Apparently she had had a stroke, and they had brought her to the nearby (literally; it’s a block away) SDS Medical Center.

So we went the next afternoon, and found out the full story.

Auntie Auring apparently had a stroke sometime earlier in the week. Living by herself, no one knew that she had had one, and poor Auntie just lay in bed for several days, with no food or water or access to the bathroom. She just suffered through the week, getting dehydrated and all that, with no one to help her, until Friday morning when a few neighbors, concerned, found her near death on her bed.

Auntie had hired a neighborhood carpenter to do some work around the house earlier in the week, and when the carpenter came on Monday and knocked on the door, he thought there was no one home. He figured Auntie had probably gone home to the province or something, and forgot about him. He came back on Wednesday and tried again, and again nobody answered the door. Same thing happened on Thursday.

Nobody had heard anything about Auntie going to the province or taking a vacation or anything.

Friday, very concerned, the carpenter, with the help of some of the neighbors, knocked on the door in earnest and tried to find out what happened. Fortunately, one of her friends spied my Auntie’s hand waving at her through an open bedroom window. They broke in, and found her there in bed, her face all twisted up and blackened with dehydration, as were her extremities.

They rushed her to the nearby SDC Medical Center, where she’s now recovering. She’s still in the midst of her stroke-induced infirmities, but at least she got rehydrated and fed, and cleaned up, and she’s looking a lot better. That’s how we found her yesterday afternoon. There was a gaggle of relatives and friends with us there, all concerned for her.

I guess it wasn’t her time yet. She could have died there, alone on her bed. Imagine being alone and not being able to do anything for almost a week, lying in the dark with no food or water, and no one to call for help. For days. God.

Aurora Gabot-Escano is the youngest in my Dad’s family. I say youngest, but she’s 80 years old now. Dad’s 86; there are only three of them left from a family of seven kids. She fudged her age by ten years, and everyone was surprised when Dad said she was actually 80, and not 70 as the hospital knew. They went by her Senior Citizen card, which gave her date of birth as sometime in 1944.

She was married to Carling Escano, an engineer, but they never had any kids; I think she was the one who had a problem with her plumbing. Uncle Carling passed away sometime in the 70s, and since then, she’s been living with friends and relatives for the most part, but largely and increasingly alone, especially these last few years.

She’s kinda hard to get along with, with her quirks and all. She used to live on EDSA itself, by the corner of Boni Serrano (prime real estate now, but back then it was just one of those regular addresses) back when Uncle Carling was still alive, but for the past decade or so she’s been staying in Marikina.

We don’t know her financial situation, how she gets her pension, where her bank account is, and as far as we know no one has been designated with the Power of Attorney to do things for her. We can’t very well ask her in her present condition, so all the relatives are chipping in for now for her medical bills.

Later, we have to figure out where she’s going to live and who’s going to take care of her. She can’t very well be on her own again.

Sheesh. We have a lot of things to take care of these next few days.