People

Strange, how people react to some events happening to their lives. There are those who just succumbed when sickness, tragedy or unwelcome circumstances befalls them and who lost all sense of  perspective right away. They feel they are just the ones being chosen to suffer such dire circumstances, not knowing (or they’re too caught up with their own “sufferings”) that there are also so many people out there who are suffering all sorts of difficult events some even more so. I know I might have fallen to these lot sometimes maybe before or maybe even many times before… I’d like to quote Ashleigh Brilliant…”I might not be perfect but parts of me are …”

So this page is for people. People who have touched me, in a way, no one would’ve. Who have been instrumental in making and shaping my life for what it is now, maybe some in a big way and some in a small yet very profound way. But we can’t really calibrate how one “event” or how one human being has influenced our lives … that would’ve been futile… and to do so would boggle one’s mind. So I will just let it flow for what it is and for what it was, and just pray that we have learned from such connections, or such relationships and we have moved on so to speak, to be a better human being…

This ain’t a complete list because if I write about all of the people whom I’ve met and had shared my life with and who I will meet in the next few days or years of my life, in the manner I’ve explained on the preceding clause, then the whole website ain’t enough for all of them…so I will write once in a while cherishing and remembering, some I’ve purged from my memories and some I’ve treasured in thoughts and in words and… online…and hopefully this won’t sound like an endless rambling but a sort of a literary journey in a way… deeply personal and sharing it with “strangers” or with love ones and to do so, will somehow enable me to honor those who have been so special in my life… and who will continue to be special in my life… this includes complete strangers whom I’ve met along life’s roads and who has made such an influence in my life that it’s just impossible to forget them or the event that made her or him special in my life… or even everyone’s lives… so here goes…

Aisha Hope

Aisha Hope on her wedding day May 26, 2017 – 2 days after her 33rd birthday.

“To lose a child is to lose a piece of yourself.” – Dr. Burton Grebin… Truer words were never spoken. I lost my daughter to another man… she fell in love! I know I should be happy for her, I truly am but then when I saw her walk the aisle to marry her would-be husband, I felt such grief that I cried the entire wedding ceremony and I thank God I was at the back of the chapel and only my sisters Ruby, Pearl and sister-in-law Erlinda were beside me to see me break down. It was the third most gut-wrenching experience I have had in my entire life. The first was when my father passed away. Second when I lost my mother and this… She isn’t my biological daughter because she’s my older sister Hope’s daughter, whom I took care of when she was just an infant until she was 6 years old then I had to leave for another country to work so I left her with her siblings under the care of my sister Pearl.

Aisha Hope at 6 months old and I was 33 years old here.

Aisha wrote letters while I was away, they were funny and honest and I used to yearn for her child-like handwritten letters so I kept them til this day and read and re-read them sometimes bringing tears to my eyes and sometimes I laugh because of its innocence. When I came back she was already 12 years old and on her 5th grade and I thank GOD the closeness was still there despite the years of separation. I continued taking care of her education until she was on her third year of high school then she had to go to my sister Pearl on her senior year. Then the teen years came and that feeling of disconnect is beginning to surface… I guess this is inevitable? I don’t think so… maybe its because she was staying at my sister Pearl’s place on her senior year… then she again moved to my other sister Ruth’s place because she was on her first year of college at a nearby university so to save money on transportation she moved to Ruth’s place. Then when she was about to finish the first semester of her first year in college, she began modeling for clothes, perfumes, even Coppertone sunscreens. I was so touched

Aisha took her aunts to an Elton John Concert as a christmas gift in 2012. L-R My sister Charity, myself, sisters Ruth & Pearl and Aisha.

when she suddenly showed up one time in my office to give me a pair of earrings saying… “I wanted to give you something from my first pay”… and of course, I cried again. I could still remember that day like it was yesterday. Then she worked at the place where my sister Ruth worked and that’s where she met Paul her future husband.

Aisha Hope with her husband Paul on their wedding day. Click on image to enlarge

I suddenly thought of her that’s why I wrote this piece about Aisha Hope… because I miss her even if she’s just a phone call away, or just a text message away… she’s now staying with her husband, trying her best to build a home and with a baby on the way! Thank GOD! I pray you and Paul will have a wonderful family and life together “Bok” (my nickname for Aisha) and I pray to GOD to grant you all that you wished for in life… just know that I will always be your Tita (Aunt), waiting in the wings ready for you if ever you need anything – advice, moral support, material support, etc. I love you so dear…

“Having a little girl has been like following an old treasure map with the important paths torn away.” – Heather Gudenkauf, author The Weight of Silence.

 

Mama

Bye Ma

I used to think there’s nothing much to talk about my mother because we were separated from her when I was six and she came back into our lives during my father’s wake, when I was 17. So I was already a teenager when I met her again… and I hardly new her. All I recall were the “horror” stories of the fights, the running away, so much baggage. Now, it turns out I was dead wrong. I remember my friend Jenny telling me when I was so full of “hate” (leaving us when I was so young and growing up without a “real” mother …), that remember the Ten Commandments Faith? The FIFTH one says, “Honor thy father, and thy mother. It does not say Honor thy father and mother if they are good, etc.” It’s unconditional. So honor them for what they are (warts and all) just as people should, with each other. No labels, since we are in no position to judge because we ain’t perfect ourselves”… I keep repeating this myself … trying to remember what one person said… that “I should walk the talk…” Since that day that Ate Jenny said those words to me. I went cold turkey. It’s like the slate went clean. She is so right. I am in no position to judge my mother for the sins of the past. I don’t even know the history of that “past”.  My other friend Shereen, told me too when we talked about my mother…”She’s still your mother Faith…” just those words. So concise yet it just hit the nail on its proverbial head…for those who knows how to read between the lines. It sums up the explanation of Ate Jen.

NOW I am in such… not a state of “alarm” which is such an alarming word (no pun), more like conscience-stricken state of finding ways to make amends with her. Try to do as much as I can to tell her that I do love her and I do understand why things happened in the past between her and my father… But then I am in the capital region and she is in the deep south, Davao my hometown with my sister and her family. I was able to visit her with my son two summers ago and again last summer and tried my best to connect. I held her hand and just stare at her longer in the hope that there’s a glimmer of recognition. I thought sometimes her eyes would light up and that’s a sign for me that she understood what I said…but I wasn’t sure then… although I thought her grip on my hand got a bit tighter. If you call that grip because she’s so weak now and so frail. Recently, she just got taken out of the hospital because the doctors told my sisters, she is almost 80, whatever it was they found in her body, if it was cancer then … “you might as well take her home and let her enjoy the rest of her life because she won’t be able to survive all the chemotherapy, tubes, meds, etc at that advanced age.” So my sisters Ate Ruby, Ate Balin and Hope took her back home. My sisters says my mother just wanted to die so to speak, not very cooperative, doesn’t want to eat sometimes, doesn’t even want to get up from her bed. We recently bought her a wheelchair and I felt good when my sister Ate Ruby said, they went to the beach with her and sometimes she eats fruits. Thank you Lord.

Mama, looks so shrunken from a photo Love (Audrey my niece) posted on her facebook page… I wanted to hug her… tell her it’s ok Mama, we are going where you are going too… So just wait for us, we’ll be together again (just whispering silently to myself hoping to get the message through by staring at her shrunken body online), also trying to reassure myself and calm myself … deep inside I am so afraid because there’s so little time and I keep praying to GOD to please please Lord don’t make her suffer too much pain… she has had enough of those during her active years, physically, mentally and spiritually. Can a human being suffer too much, is there a limit to one’s suffering? I just realized now, Mama survived an anguished life and she experienced it more during her later years with us. The rejection of her own kids (including myself), the ridicule she received from her own family (including me), the painful words from her own family (including me)… I kept thinking, she must have been numb from the constant painful words and rejection… and it marked her all through her later years. Invisible scars, yet visible to those who love her and know her… Despite those harrowing experience, she was still able to move on, she smiles at us before she got bedridden, even held our hands too and I used to ask myself… God bless Mama, she “forgot” what I did to her… or maybe she is just too numbed from it all? I do not want to torture myself of the thought. I know I have to move on, do things now, if ever at all possible and just try your best to treat her as lovingly as possible.

My mother passed away on Tuesday, January 26, 2016 at the age of 80. My sister said it was around 5:00 a.m. but they really don’t know the exact time… So she died on her sleep. Bye Ma… We love you very much…

 

My Father

God, how I miss him! When I am too down, I miss my father and when I am too happy, I miss him too… I don’t want to use the word worship on him, because I know now I worship GOD above all. I just love my father. Everyone called him Rudy, a monicker which as it turned out, someone else used it too, a local movie star. He always joked, that the guy stole his name because he was a lot older than the movie star and we used to chide him that, it doesn’t really matter… He was such a tough old one, from the old school. Brains and brawns, I just love him, he was my rock until he died in ’79, just seventeen at that time. And now I realized that just like so many pointless deaths happening all around us, my father’s death was also one, just caused by him. He was such a man about town. He drank, he smoked, he sang, he womanized and he danced during his heydays. Funny, for a brilliant man, he never listened to his doctors, always saying that he can conquer death. He died young at 52. Such a waste for me and for everyone, he wrote well, he talked well and was very eloquent at it. He has what we call “charisma”. Anyhow, he was the very first man who just touched me in more ways than one. With the way I am today, I read the books he reads, I listened to the music he listens to, although I added the list with a few more which he never had the chance to listen to because he died so young! Sometimes when I listen to something very good, very poignant, I always say to myself, “I wish Tatay (Father) can hear this song!” And I even eat the food he eats!… hahaha.. strange but true, since we all grew up with our father with us until my teen years then I went to college. So my father is one of the “people” in here who touched my heart and until now still continues to touch my heart and may God bless his soul wherever he is and “Can he see us Lord?” I pray he is happy and so at peace wherever he is because he never had peace when he was on earth. Or maybe he had it sometimes when he is in church praying. He seems like “jaunting” … you know jumping like a small boy when we come from church together. So I just knew then that he felt at peace those times. But he was so busy, so stressed, always working, never had a chance to really see the fruits of his labours, you know just  savour them, if ever that were possible for someone like him to do that! So he succumbed to the last heart attack that finally killed him, sometimes in a way, I am grateful to God for taking him because I felt then that he so needed to rest. I just wanted my father to rest. I feel his exhaustion sometimes. There are times, when I want to tell him, “Tay, just sleep, I will go to the office for you!” But I was just his little girl then! All I could do was watch him bit by little bit being taken away by a bad lifestyle…

♫ I love you in a place where there’s no space in time…
I love you for my life, you are a friend of mine…
And when my life is over,
Remember when we were together,
We were alone and…
I’m singing this song for you…♫   (Leon Russell’s “A Song for You” tune) …

I miss you ‘Tay…

 

Mother Teresa

The name is synonymous to humility and kindness for so many people whose lives she has touched. I am a Moslem, I converted in 1994 from being a Roman Catholic. I am the only Moslem in the whole clan who are all Roman Catholics. I have converted out of conviction just as so many of you out there has converted for whatever reason that may be. So what has that got to do with Mother Teresa? Well, it might be very trivial to some but it was so very very significant for me, Mother Teresa made me cry. I was the only one left at home, all if not most of my relatives were out to celebrate Lent in our country (this is a big thing in our country and a national holiday) and they all left for the country (that’s the province in our case) in order to stay the whole day in my brother’s farm. So being a Moslem, I decided to stay at home and just read or watch TV at home. All the programs on TV that day was all about religion or Jesus Christ stations of the cross and the life and times of Jesus Christ and some about the holy people and saints all over the world. Being the only Christian country in the Far East, the Philippines, celebrates Lent, I think the longest time, for a whole month starting with Ash Wednesday until Palm Sunday I think.

One of our local TV channels was having a homily of some sort about Mother Teresa and there was this priest who cried on national tv saying that he felt so ashamed of himself when Mother Teresa taught him what being humble was all about. The priest told the story about his experience with this very very holy nun. They were all working in a mission in this South Asian country, where Mother Teresa started a similar mission she initiated in Calcutta, India. There were a group of nuns and several priest who worked with Mother Teresa. This priest was so tired and was sleeping in one of the rooms in that Mission and he heard somebody knocking downstairs in the middle of the night. Mother Teresa was also in one of the rooms resting. The priest at first didn’t want to go down because he was so exhausted from the day’s work. Nonetheless, the knocking was so persistent so he finally went down and opened the main door and there was a very very dirty full of abscess beggar-like man. He wore old and dirty clothes and his skin was full of ulcerated wounds and he heard that there are nuns who help poor people in this town. He has no idea who Mother Teresa was but he just needed his wounds cared for and he needed food and obviously starving that’s why he came to the mission. He must have heard about the new mission from some people he met on the streets too.

When the priest saw the man at the door, he cringe and suddenly felt like getting away because of the smell of the man. The old man apparently smelled bad because he was dirty and this was exacerbated by his ulcers and dirty clothing. The man asked help to be treated and to have some food and the priest said to come back the next morning because the mission will be open by then and there will be several nuns who will tend to his wounds. Unbeknownst to the priest, Mother Teresa also woke up from the knocking and was at the back of the priest, she right away shoved the priest aside and hugged the man, and told him to lie down and rest on one of the benches.

The priest told Mother Teresa, “Mother, you don’t have to do that, we can tend to him tomorrow morning.” Mother Teresa stared at the priest and told him, “This man has no place to go and he is starving.” The priest was so ashamed of himself, realizing his feelings for the man has nothing to do with whether there was no one to tend to the man but he felt that the man was just so dirty he simply couldn’t go near him. The priest further realized that he was a man of the cloth, ordained by God to help the poor and the needy. But he cringe at the first sight of a dirty and smelly man.

While Mother Teresa was tending to the old man (despite already very tired from the day’s work too), the priest stood there and cried and ran to Mother Teresa and told her to go upstairs to rest and tended to the man himself. The next day, when Mother Teresa and the priest were talking, the priest asked for forgiveness from Mother Teresa for his actions the previous night and she just said that there is nothing to forgive…and..”It’s good to be humiliated, it teaches us to be humble!”.

I was watching this on TV and I cried, I cried for a long time and I couldn’t stop myself from crying. It was like that for almost half an hour until I felt I couldn’t cry anymore. I felt like a ton of weight has been lifted from my heart. Mother Teresa was so right, so so very right. I was a very conceited person before, and I felt smug of the knowledge I knew then, and subconsciously I have always felt always right about most things. I watched that TV show maybe 7 or 8 years ago and it is still fresh in my mind until this very minute. Mother Teresa is a simple nun, a “poor” one from Romania who decided to serve the Lord. When she works there is no hype nor fanfare, she just works and wanted nothing in return. But her service to so many people has struck a cord in so many hearts around the world. “Famous” and “Big” people even go to her to listen to her advises. Imagine that, she doesn’t have a Ph.D., she doesn’t know rocket science, she is just someone from a poor European country who left everything behind her to serve the poor in Calcutta, India and then now in my country and she has taught many people, the rich and the very poorest alike not by talking loud, or going on national TV, or announcing she is going to do this or that, but by just being quiet and just serving the needy. In her own quiet demeanor and with utmost humility she taught a lot of people around the world and I thank God, including me.

I saw this one whole page on an old edition of the Saturday Evening Post about Mother Teresa.. I will scan that page and post it here so you all will understand. That page has been on every wall of the houses that I have lived in, all the time. Whenever I moved to another place (I’ve always moved to different apartments or rooms!), that picture and quotations of Mother Teresa, is always taped on the wall and its still standing right in front of me while I am writing this … and this is for all those who just happens to see or read this page.

This isn’t about religion (and why is it that people [“like me, imagine that!”] always try to justify themselves when talking about religion?), this is about life, mine particularly or those around me or those who had touch me in some way or another. An acquaintance once asked me, “Why is that photo of Mother Teresa on your wall? Aren’t you a Muslim?” God forgive me, why are some people just so daft? so shallow? and then I stopped myself. Maybe God placed them there in front of us, in order to teach us humility and patience. So I patiently explained to her, “That I am a Moslem, yes, but that doesn’t mean I am blind to the fact that there are so many awesome people out there who had been sent by GOD to be near us in order to teach us and I am one of those who has been taught.” Dare I say more, anyone?” There is no monopoly to do good …  faith in God is not a monopoly. You can be a Hindu, a Buddhist, a Protestant, a Catholic or a Muslim, as long as you do good and are kind to your fellow human being, then I’m sure God will be pleased and the ultimate aim has always been, always is and always will be to please God… G’luck!

Gwen

GwenA dear friend, was or is? I don’t know… I don’t know whether she’s ok (I pray she’s fine Lord!) or not and we lost touch I don’t know when too… We’ve been very close during college days… I don’t know how and why we lost touch… I don’t know whether she is still in Vegas or maybe she has gone somewhere else …

How can I describe Gwen (are we supposed to?)… Without having to laugh and cry and… an amalgam of emotions. I first met her through another friend in ’78…? I can’t really recall. She was such a “novelty” (?), that word sounds farfetch…I can’t seem to find that one word that would befit her kind of personality…I used to be so aloof…so like those “intellectuals” or acting like one maybe (who knows?) …in High School, they called me so superior. But I never felt like that…I was just trying to stand so ramrod straight in high school and my chin held high not because I was feeling so superior, but because I wanted to walk using the correct posture but a lot of my high school buddies thought I was feeling superior. I have always been misunderstood and then I met Gwen in college…

I used to be so quiet in high school buried my nose in books (or hiding myself in books maybe)…excelled in almost every subject… then I met Gwen in college…

She is sooo everything…so vivacious, so outspoken, so happy-go-lucky that she was such a marvel to be with… I loved her then and I still do now, I was practically spellbound! even a little bit envious to be honest…I loved her, not in the sense of a man-woman love, sort of platonic yet deep but I don’t know I just love her… She is the Val of my life…? Well for those of you who never had the chance to read “The Women’s Room” Val is somewhat like Gwen…Of course the Women’s Room is fictional and Gwen is the real deal…

And I was conscious of everything, so fearful of failing in my college subjects, so afraid of trying new things, too fearful of the consequences… Funny thing was or is, Gwen was quite the opposite, she is too confident with a devil-may-care attitude and she was smart, witty, so honest and unselfish too and …”she’s one hell of a girl!” Amazingly she has depth, which is so strange for someone like her or a lot of people would think she doesn’t have a brain…” Another cliche that needs to be changed…you simply don’t just judge a book by its cover, you gotta read it too!… and I adore her, for being the way she was… So I met Gwen in college…

We were so close in college… Some of our friends didn’t know or couldn’t figure out our closeness too. Imagine an excessive extrovert…hahaha and I am the typical introvert… Our closeness, I realized now…. is a confirmation of that cliche …that opposites DO attract! It’s so strange because I felt like I could feel what she was feeling and vice-versa. It’s like we are always in the same wavelength when we talk, always in sync. She was such a special person, a truly wonderful individual…She will stand her ground if she felt she was right, I might be wavering when I felt confused and was I sooo confused! But not for Gwen, she is confident and she can be tough and I couldn’t for the life of me, understand why some people couldn’t “see” that in her… If ever our mutual friends look for one of us, they can either look for myself or Gwen and they know they can find both of us in the same place…I found in Gwen what I found in Shereen, you know that feeling of not needing to talk, and just sit beside each other, silent…feeling so secure that you are sitting beside a person you love and whom you know loved you back…and who will stay with you no matter what… I’ve always cherished those years in college of being together with my dear friend. Some were tears but the laughter and camaraderie were incredibly wondrous and are treasured. I’ve always admired Gwen and I respect every inch of her! (The same words uttered to me by another dear friend Shereen…and I feel the same way towards Gwen). That was what I felt then and still do quite frankly… but now…

I lost her…she went to the US, got married there, we exchanged emails for a while even phoned each other regularly, she then had a child and then I lost her… I heard she married again… Shereen asked me once a few weeks back, where she was and I told her I don’t know…She asked why? I told her I don’t know too…(There seems to be a lot of “I don’t know” here…) So she then asked me to look for her…and told her… I did too… and still at it… But where and how did I start…? I asked and called friends and some said they truly don’t know, when I became insistent and asked for even just an email address… I just pray Lord that Gwen is truly fine. I, of course Googled her… and I only found notices… and assessor’s documents in county records. Some with her name on it and some with relative’s names. I’ve been a wiz in research or so I thought … research was what landed me in this wonderful job at present for crying out loud! I am beginning to realize that, that ain’t true no mo’ … I couldn’t even find my old friend’s phone number…  I doubt it, if she can read this SOS, my family doesn’t even know this blog site exists much more so for Gwen… I’m already 50 years old and I pray there is still time to find her…where are you my friend…? I miss you so…the longing hurts…I pray to God you’re ok…

Gwen, wherever you may be…I’d like to sing this song for you…

♫ I love you in a place where there’s no space in time…
I love you for my life, you are a friend of mine…
And when my life is over,
Remember when we were together,
We were alone and…
I’m singing this song for you…♫   (Leon Russell’s “A Song for You” tune)

Shereen

I met this girl, Shereen, way back in 1992 or 1993 on a small island in the Middle East. Like most Filipinos, working there for a living. I keep calling her a girl but she is not a girl anymore she is now 44 1/2 years old. Maybe because she is 6 years younger than me. A very quiet and unassuming woman, simple yet profound. I met her through another Middle Eastern friend Amal who shares a place with me in Bahrain. Shereen and I became fast friends not through trivial pursuits but just by talking. When we first met I didn’t know she could speak English and upon talking to her, she told me she already came from the United States hence the ease of speaking English. Shereen showed me simplicity from a world made complex by me obviously since I have always been a serious woman. Always taking things so seriously when we could always deal with things or circumstances with patience and tack. I was a Catholic then and I was so busy with my work even taking it with me going home.

Shereen talks softly, I could not recall a time that she even yelled. I then realized she doesn’t need to. She can just face challenges with calm and humility very, very sure of her knowledge and belief. Knowledge in the sense that she knows who she is, what she knows and what she doesn’t know and where she is going to. She is not forceful. She is a devout Muslim but she doesn’t force it on you, she goes on her way practicing Islam with calm and assurance that GOD is there watching and taking care of each of us. Her actions made me curious about Islam. I have always been a very inquisitive person. So I asked about Islam. Why and what makes it so different with Catholicism. She just answers in that “matter-of-fact” way that she always does. Very sure of the exactness of her religion.

I was a very very proud Catholic then, so sure that my religion is the only religion that is right. It never occurred to me that the fact that I was proud of being a Catholic was already wrong since we have always known that Pride is one of the seven capital sins in the Christian Doctrine. I knew that then and I felt guilty. Shereen gave me a copy of the Quran, it’s English version. She doesn’t want to talk to me about Islam because I have always told her, “don’t make me nervous!”. I never knew why it made me nervous. Maybe because there has been so many things that while growing up into maturity we find so many erroneous practices in what we call “our” religion. The religion that we have grown up to believe as the only religion. Nonetheless, this is not an essay about which religion is right, since there is no such thing. This is just a “story,” a narrative about people who have touched my life and who might have passed away or are still around us and still do touched my life, in the most simple way, which is just doing their “thing,” you know going about their way without them knowing that what they are doing have “taught” someone to try to do her best or simply to just live.

Johnny

He walks in a bouncing manner, always in sneakers…I love guys in sneakers…it just means they’re physical. Strangely, he was the third guy I met on the tennis courts, that I became emotionally “entangled” with…hahaha… We can laugh about it now, but truly tears were literally flowing those times… I’ve always prided myself for being a pragmatic woman…and that went down the gutter as quickly as I met the first man I fell in love with. What do they say about love?…Don’t worry, it’s all true…tsk…tsk…

Johnny was with a Britisher in a far away land called Bahrain, who wanted to hit balls with me (literally!), she was looking for me (?)..I didn’t even know her name then. My tennis buddies just told me, “this British woman wants to play tennis with you saying, “I want to play with that girl who’s so loud on the courts…I so enjoyed watching her play!” When I think about that time, I chuckle…I truly was loud on the tennis courts! Whenever I hit a perfect shot, I always exclaim and admire my own shots…”Beautiful!…Son of a gun!…Holy Mackerel!…hahaha..funny, I got that from my father, who’s so passionate and expressive and will not hesitate to yell or shout out loud if he finds something beautiful, human or otherwise…(mostly of the female specie!). So going back to Johnny, he was with a British woman I played tennis with and she introduced us and we became friends… Johnny, was just surprised I could speak English! Of course we do, English is our medium of instruction…! He is obviously ignorant of that fact.. Nonetheless, Johnny kept following me from that day forward, got my phone number from my other tennis mate, who so wanted for us to be friends because she likes Johnny’s other buddy (scheming b*&^%!).

He was so charming, attractive, the whole shebang so to speak, and dresses like Richard Gere in the movie “An Officer and A Gentleman,”  in his gala uniform! That is just the icing of the cake, he is also a Lieutenant Commander of the navy! I should have noticed the red flag! My brother Rudy, always warned us never to get mixed up with a sailor, he was a merchant mariner (Everyone in my country calls them “Seaman” but he is one of the few I know who has a master’s degree in his craft!), a captain of his own ship for the longest time I could remember and he should know what he’s talking about, having been in that industry since I was in grade school. So Johnny was also a doctor, a surgeon. I don’t know why I’ve fallen for him, but I just did! It wasn’t just physical attraction, it was more than skin deep. His energy emanates out of his body. Even everyone I knew men and women alike, loves to be near him. A charmer, in a sense. Johnny was the first guy I’ve been with, being at that age, already an adult and “purportedly” a mature woman, that I’ve truly fallen in love with. I loved every minute with him and over time our closeness just evolved into something deeper. He calls me in the mornings (a wake-up call), and just tells me, time to get up! and picks me up for lunch and then when I get home from work and I open my flat, it’s full of flowers! My friends specially Alice would always come to my flat and ask for some of the flowers scattered saying my flat looks like a funeral parlor already! He has all the qualities I’ve wanted in a man. So tough, very physical, runs every morning then plays tennis in the afternoons and the most important quality of all… is… the guy actually reads! We shared books we read and as usual he is surprised by the books I’ve read…(why is it that most guys thinks women in general are dumb?) from Maughm, to Wolfe, Forsyth and Ludlum and of course being a man, he hates Ayn Rand…hahaha.

Dinnertime, is the same, Johnny’s with me, over dinner and after dinner… Conversation between us flows easily and we are even comfortable being silent with each other beside us. I even feel connected with him even when I am at work and he with me at his work. He calls me at times in the middle of the day just to tell me, he loves me and I laugh and tell him I’m working and I gotta hang up… I mean, I’d call a woman crazy if she won’t fall for that kind of man. Even holding his hands gives me goosebumps. It was a fairy tale affair…or so I thought… we’ve been together what ..3 years. Yes 3 years and one of the most wonderful and exciting 3 years of my life! As quickly as it started, it also ended abruptly…and like all good things…all good things must end…Does it hurt now? It hurt then (aint that an understatement!…) but now…we feel aged…hahaha…wizened is more like it. BUT thank you Lord! I am grateful because I have had one of the most wonderful three years of my adult life. I keep wondrin’ was that true love, is there such a thing? Whither goest thou? Only God knows…

Ayn Rand

A modern-day philosopher. Ayn Rand, without her knowing it, may have shaped the lives of millions of women who happened to have read her books and I of course, am one of them. I adore her, if its in any way possible to adore a woman and how her brain works. I have read her books, The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged and until this day could never forget them. It may have been the reason too why I have loved books my entire life and despite the age of the Internet, I still have this love for the printed page of the book. I even love its smell… weird but true. Ayn Rand is a trendsetter so to speak, an innovator, a brilliant novelist and a poignant philosopher. Other people may have different opinions about this woman but hey, I have an opinion! Most people think that Ayn Rand is an atheist, I doubt that. She believes in reason, and reason for me is the belief in the moral “being” or morality per se or it’s simply conscience. I remember someone said, or maybe I read it somewhere, the conscience is the presence of GOD in men. I rest my case.

Billie Jean King

The name, “Billie Jean,” is a famous name for kids because of Michael Jackson’s 1983 pop hit but in our days of “old”, that name epitomizes the complete and total woman athlete, Billie Jean King. Never had I been so enamored to be an athlete as what this superwoman did to me and to millions of other young women in the 60’s, 70s and the 80s and I bet lots more in the 90s. I could still remember the day when I literally cajoled and begged my father to buy me a tennis racket so that I could start tennis lessons when I was 16 years old, that was in late 1977, I was in my junior year in high school. I did so because Billie Jean King was everywhere, in the newspapers, on TV and back then even in radios. Some call her the lightning rod in women’s professional tennis. What she did for women athletes was unprecedented. Back then, when a male tennis professional wins a grand slam tennis event, he wins the top prize money and when a female tennis professional wins the same event she only gets half of what the men won in the same finals event. That just s%!@s! Isn’t it? She fought tooth and nail to get all the advantages that men get during those times for women athletes. To top all that, she won the biggest tennis event of 1973 against Bobby Riggs in the, “Battle of the Sexes.” It was a match everybody wanted to see, it literally captivated the whole world.

“Most important perhaps for women everywhere, she convinced skeptics that a female athlete can survive pressure-filled situations and that men are as susceptible to nerves as women,” Neil Amdur wrote in The New York Times. And the score says it all, winning 6-4, 6-3, 6-3 in a match the London Sunday Times called “the drop shot and volley heard around the world.”

President Barack Obama presents the Medal of Freedom to legendary tennis player Billie Jean King

I miss seeing her in competitive tennis, her grace on court and off court, her ability to turn a bad situation into one of the most wonderful display of sportsmanship, a woman athlete could ever show. As of this date, I couldn’t hold a tennis racket yet because of an age-old right knee tennis injury which was never cured because I couldn’t afford the ACL replacement surgery…the irony of it all. So I will have to make do with swimming first…to strengthen my knees and quadriceps and who knows I might be running around, jumping up and down in a tennis court one of these days. InshaAllah! (If God wills it!)

Vanessa Redgrave

She is an incredible actress, one of the few I know, who can really act. I first saw her in the film, “Julia.” a long, long time ago with Jane Fonda and until now I couldn’t forget her face and the cause she fought for in that film. Her name is Vanessa Redgrave. A few people my age, in my country knows her, which is for me, the usual. Because I am different like they all are, from me. She has a poignancy about her and a depth which makes us feel wanting to protect her and help her. Her eyes evokes emotions without having the need to move her face. You know that cliche, “the eyes are the windows of the soul.” Vanessa Redgrave’s eyes has that! She comes from a British family of actors and her father was knighted, so I heard too. Vanessa Redgrave was also “knighted” by their queen for her contributions to the film industry but declined to accept the honors because of her political beliefs. Hence, she refused to be called a Dame. I run, right away to the TV, whenever I hear she is on it, because I know my time will be time worth spending. She won numerous awards both in the US and the UK. Anyhow, I needed to mention her here because she is an extremely brave woman for me. She shouts if she feels like it, she doesn’t care as long as she knows she is right. I just checked on Wikipedia that she is already 74 years old, almost as old as my mother. She is fighting for the Palestinians to have their own state and I respect that very much. I too want them to have their own state, they more than deserve it as much as the Israelis does. That’s the reason why she was declared “persona non grata,” by the Israeli government. Why can’t they just live as neighbors and share the land? Well, we can’t please everyone. N’est-ce pas?

Marilyn French

No matter how much we or I avoid “hero-worshiping”, if that is in any way possible for a human being to do so, I still am one of those who has been that, had I been accused of being one. I could not avoid that fact, I will be lying to myself if I will not even say it here, my alter-ego in written form! I have always been wanting to be Marilyn French, funny to say that at my age, almost 50 in July. She is the personification of what I have always wanted to be as a woman. She is an accomplished writer, brilliant, strong-willed and with a certain devil-may-care attitude. I have indicated in my “book section” in this blog that her book, “The Women’s Room”, had shaped my life in one way or another in the same manner as Ayn Rand did. Marilyn French, was touted as one of the greatest feminist writers of the 20th Century. She seems to know or she is brilliant in articulating what women wanted to say in general but failed to say out loud. I might even be one of them. Such as until now, I still wonder or am questioning the idea that why should a writer be called accomplished only if they had sold a bestseller or a million copies of his or her books? Do we have to make sure that a million readers had read it first before stating the fact that we already feel accomplished even before the public’s approval? Why should one require a certain organization’s or group’s approval before realizing the fact that we have created a masterpiece?

Robin Williams… Goodbye to you my trusted friend…

Robin Williams RIPOne of my idols just died this morning, he was 63..Robin Williams…just shocked…”It’s as though we’ve been told the moon spun out of orbit or that water no longer boiled, or froze, at the proper temperature. If Robin Williams is dead, then light no longer refracts, atoms no longer bond and gravity has gone out of business. Yes. It’s that implausible,” by Gene Seymour, the film critic who wrote about his demise on CNN (Seymour just took the words out of my mouth…).

It is completely incredible…!!! I will miss him…truly miss the man, the compleat actor, the comic genius, and the human being. I know these words are not enough to describe such a “man.”

He is “my man,” whenever I’m lonely and alone. I always kept a video (the Inside Actor’s Studio) of him on my desktop. I turn to it whenever I am feeling down. I feel like I lost a friend. I know he is a friend to millions of admirers around the world, too.

“Goodbye, to you my trusted friend…
When all the birds are singing in the sky;
Now that the spring is in the air,
With the flowers everywhere,
I wish that we could both be there!” (Seasons in the Sun)

God rest his soul in peace.

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