I used to visit my home province, but only sometimes and only for short periods. Thus, I couldn’t explore the changes since I was a child growing up in this place.
Revisiting Your Roots. Copyright: aesta1
This time, I decided to stay on for four months, and after a month, yes, it took me a month to settle down and fully appreciate the experience of being a local again, not just a foreigner visiting another place.
Even inserting back into my family again, knowing the new members and seeing the growth in each one is a bit baffling. Sometimes, it is hard to comprehend how some people can change so much, but they do. The dynamics have changed, too. It is interesting to watch and find out what role I can play, especially in celebrations they have done without me for many years.
It used to be that I was only visiting, and everyone tried to accommodate me, knowing that I would be gone in a week or two. These days, it is different. I am putting down roots again, which shows continuity. I am reestablishing relationships to which I have not given any attention for years, knowing my former friends and relating with them again. I have changed, and they, too, have changed. It is interesting how this plays out.
Some have detached themselves from the group, but many try to be part of the interaction. We visit each other and organize activities to bond once more and refresh our memories of things we used to enjoy. Some have passed, and we hold masses for them lest we forget. It is sad because, at our age, we face our passing daily.
We had our Christmas party this year, and I hosted it, but each one brought food. It started at nine and ended at 5. I thought at first, what are we going to do? Time was even lacking for other things we wanted to do. It’s as if we were in high school once more.
Those who had not attended other previous celebrations enjoyed themselves so much that they promised, from now on, to be in all of the gatherings. They had so much fun that they wanted to experience it again. We forgot ourselves, and we were children in the playground of the past, playing, shoving, dancing, singing, showing our talent, and taunting each other. We were together our whole childhood but lost touch after high school graduation.
The years of building a career and raising families have left our relationships without attention. Only when the kids had grown did we find time to connect again. This connection strengthened when we saw each other at our golden jubilee, 50 years after graduation from high school. Many of us had not seen each other or talked to many.
Strengthening these connections gave us so much joy that we tried to gather whenever there were occasions to celebrate or gather. We always find reasons, of course, especially when some who now live in other countries come home. These were occasions to connect, celebrate, and share whatever we had, even around snacks in the afternoon.
Gathering of friends. Copyright: aesta1
These occasions always lead to reminiscing about our childhood days, what we remembered and what news we received about our classmates and friends. We often learn about the families in our town since childhood. Some information brings joy, some pain, and others, sorrow, but whatever they are, they are always welcome. If the persons are around, they will get congratulated, praised, reprimanded, or sternly talked to, depending on what is shared.
Because we grew up and knew each other’s families, we feel free to react to the sharing as in a family circle. We could be brutal among friends who have grown up together because we are secure in our care for each other. It is such a comfort to be with people one could be one’s self.
Our roots are solid. We belong to the same town knowing the same families. We knew each other’s families and shared our joys, frustrations, and pains. Going back to one’s roots is a very comforting experience. If you still need to do this, start now.
Little did I know that starting this garden would yield not only produce but lessons that I keep learning every day.
I started this garden because I love to putter around a garden early morning with my cup of coffee in one hand and a song in my heart, looking at every plant’s daily changes.
As the garden progressed, things kept changing. The changes are not only in the plant’s growth but also in people directly or indirectly involved in the garden.
I was the only one interested in having this garden. I had no idea I started something several in the family love to be involved in. So, this is the first lesson I learned. At that time, my husband and I were still working and could not take substantial time to be in the garden. Other family members took the lead, and I gave up designing and landscaping my garden.
The first time this happened, I resented it. However, I was realistic enough to know that time was not with me. Other people have the interest, the workforce, and the time.
Because of this, the garden expanded and grew beautifully. Different people used it for their interests, so the garden became a series of beautiful memories. At one time, sunflowers filled it, becoming the setting of celebrations and photo opportunities.
These days, plots of different kinds of vegetables grace it, yielding produce for our consumption and the market. The garden is now earning little to defray its maintenance and development expenses.
Black Beans and Corn. Copyright: aesta1
One of the lessons I have learned is that a garden requires time and presence. In the Tropics, where plants grow or die fast when not watered, you must keep your watch or lose some expensive plants. Until the plants take root, you must give them care.
When the plants start producing, your job is not over. They come in abundance that you can hardly harvest them at their peak. There’s a time when they’re just suitable for cooking. Not too ripe or mature and not too young. The gardeners also told me that with some plants, you couldn’t leave the fruits to mature on the vines as that would stop them from growing new shoots. When the plants are healthy, the produce is so abundant that you can’t eat them all, so you need to share or sell them. I was appalled one day when I spent hours harvesting string beans, and all the vendors paid for it when I sent it to the market was a little less than $2. So two hours or probably more of my day was only worth that much? I was discouraged, but the benefits of eating fresh produce gave me hope and a new resolve.
Squash and Okra. Copyright: aesta1
There is satisfaction in having your garden. Every morning, I watch for new blooms, shoots, or fruits. In the tropics, it is fast to grow native varieties. Aside from eating fresh produce, I get to help others. One of these vendors comes regularly, and she picks the vegetables she would cook and sell for the workers at the irrigation close to us. She has eight kids and a husband who cannot support the family. But this lady wanted all her kids to go to school and earn degrees later. So, she does whatever she can to achieve her dream. She picks up what she wants and gives our gardener a fair price when she comes. Sometimes, she has only so much money, and she would tell us she’ll share more next time. Do I bother? No, I am happy that this person works hard to improve her life and that of her children.
So, we keep investing in the garden, giving us produce and joy. We couldn’t be happier.
I lost an article I worked on for hours and am distraught. I felt inspired to write that article. I was happy about it, but it got lost in the process of posting it. I got angry at myself. I had only my stupidity to blame. Or my ignorance or carelessness.
I took time out to escape the state I was in when I lost it. Many tries at retrieving it frustrated me that the only way left for me was to give it up, let it go, and start anew.
As I relaxed more, I reflected on it. Losing is so much a part of our lives. It happens almost every day. We lose an object we like, our pet dies, or someone takes our plant. The worst is when a loved one passes on to another life. It leaves us angry, disappointed, afraid, or empty.
I sat down again to write, hoping to recapture the article. I know this is only my way of dealing with the unfortunate situation, but it will not return. I must let go and keep living and creating something new and different. Instead of moping and thinking of the lost one, I focused on creating something new. Yet, the loss kept coming back. The feeling of anger is still there. The disappointment prevents me from thinking. I knew I had to give it time to let it go. It is gone. It is not gone to me, though.
Losing is a daily occurrence. I thought over 70 years that I would be a pro at this pattern of accepting and letting go. No, every event is new. Every event makes me go through the process once more. Is there ever an end to this. Will I ever grow muscles to let go when I lose someone or something quickly?
People tell me to keep myself busy. I’m trying to do that, but the struggle between the loss and the new creation gives me a headache. It continues to play in my mind. Ah, the mind. It refuses to let go.
The only way is for me to quiet my mind down. I can’t fight it. I can only allow its unfolding process or go beyond it. I know I am not my mind, Nor am I my body. I am not the things I lost. No matter how precious they are, they are not me. They are their own. I need to set them free so that they can be. I am my being, and letting them go, allows me to be.
It is this being that I need to be in touch with, to be in its core, so I don’t get lost when I lose things. I know this truth, but each loss brings it back for me to understand it fully. Each day, I need to remember that losing is part of life.
I can watch the unfolding of things, including the loss, and let it be. Being in Me is an anchor. I am.
Well, what says you? I have been retired for some years now and so are my friends. Not only that, many in my circle have now passed on—a staggering reality for many Seniors.
My husband passed away three years ago, and only today, another in our high school class more than 50 years ago also died.
Death is so much a part of life. More so in our senior years. The earlier we accept this reality, the better will be our appreciation when it takes place in our lives.
We all dread it, I understand. But, at one time or another, someone who is so much a part of our life passes on. The pain and the loss are something you don’t want to wish on, even your worst enemy.
How do you go through this? How do you manage? When, even amid fun, the memory of the loved one who passed on occupies your thoughts? How do you forget?
How do you hold the tears that, at any moment, pour out? How can you enjoy anything when your thoughts often return to not being there?
Loss can be debilitating. It can ground you in misery, fear, and loneliness. Even with supportive family and friends, it is not like having your loved one there.
Here are some lessons I’ve learned:
I realized how valuable companionship is, to have someone to laugh with, express your fears, foresee your reaction and smile at it understandably, hold your hand when the movie scares you, or discuss the often perplexing events in today’s world.
I have to learn to do many things on my own. Eating out alone in a restaurant gives me a bit of discomfort. Or going to a movie or a show on my own. There’s no one to whisper some comments to or share your delight over a dish or a performance.
I don’t enjoy long drives alone. When my husband was around, our long drives were moments of getting to know things in our past, childhood, or thoughts about many things. The sharing somehow becomes more intimate and genuine. Listening to the radio now doesn’t cut it.
I don’t enjoy socializing on my own. It’s like half is missing. My husband was very gregarious and never wanting for words and stories. I, on the other hand, would prefer only to listen. Now, I have to talk more. Maybe, this is not so bad after all.
It’s always fun to have someone around you to harass, laugh with, cry on, love, and be loved. No matter how much you search for a replacement, it is not the same. Mourn your loss. It is important to do this. However, you have to move on and look for ways to live life after your loss. It is not the end. It is the beginning of something different, fascinating and satisfying when you allow yourself to experience it.
A friend told me that those who died are still with us, and I like this. I talk to my husband all the time. When driving, I ask him to help me navigate the traffic, make it easy to merge on the highway, and don’t forget to close the gas cover or leave my credit card or wallet on the pump.
I see friends in other countries. At least I have company in seeing places and enjoying restaurants in those cities. I see friends where I live.
I have learned to be close to family, travel with them once in a while, visit them, and hang out with them. As was the case before, I have come to appreciate them more as I relate with them directly and not through my husband.
I have worked on my fears and my tendency to depend on someone. I learn to do things like driving long distances, fixing things, taking care of things on my own, and dealing with loneliness.
Each one of us deals with loss in a different way.
But I have many friends who have lived alone because they have not married, divorced, or widowed. I’ve learned how to take things in stride from them and not let matters overwhelm me. They kept telling me that they’d done it for many years. Why am I complaining? Somehow, this pushes me to do the things I dread doing.
After three years, I feel I’m getting into the rhythm of living alone. As much as the first day it happened, I am still my husband, but I can cope with life alone.
I found how valuable a good relationship with our families and friends is. It’s strong support as I deal with my loss. I don’t think I would have managed if not for these relationships.
Recently, I visited New York, my first trip outside of the country after a long pandemic lockdown. While there, a friend and I went to its latest attraction, The Edge. We went up the elevator to the 100th Floor, and when we got out, a 360 view of the whole city greeted us. There’s a platform outside that makes you feel you’re indeed on edge.
It was quite an experience. At first, excitement gripped me as the elevator brought us up. I wondered what it would be like to be on the 100th Floor of a building. My breath quickened as we reached the top, and I couldn’t stop my heart racing expecting something spectacular.
I was not disappointed. My eyes riveted to the view that was unfolding in front of me. It draws me to move on and experience what it was to be right there on that promontory extending outside the perimeters of the building. Fear and excitement interspersed. It’s like falling in love for the first time, and one is drawn to the person but is also hesitant to get closer, not yet knowing who this man or woman is.
I walked towards the edge with hesitant steps. Every step is a decision to test the limits of my fear. The presence of so many people gave me courage. It was an assurance of safety. Safety in numbers, as they say.
Slowly, we walked around and quickly became quite comfortable looking out at the city spread under our gaze. My hesitant steps became hurried with excitement that we even went to the bar to buy a glass of champagne to commemorate our being there at The Edge.
Afterward, my thoughts focused on the experience of what it is to be on edge. Often, we fear even going near it. We seek safety, comfort, and stability. I thought of children, especially those who have newly learned to walk. They keep going to where something promises excitement, something attractive and of interest. They’ll move towards anything that catches their fancy with no sense of danger along the way.
We, adults, have long lost that pursue of anything that has caught our attention. We would think of all the possible risks and obstacles that we end up not doing at all.
Fear often engulfs us to go closer to the edge, so we hold off and stay where we are even though nothing in this place excites us. Life continues to be a bore but safe.
To be perched on the edge, we can see more. We can see clearly, but we hesitate to go there. Instead, we satisfy ourselves with seeing only a part of reality but feeling stable. As we grow, we aim for stability that often, we only see a tiny portion of reality. We satisfy ourselves with this narrow view, and we defend this audaciously when attacked. We have learned all kinds of defenses to make it more stable.
Is this how we want to live our lives? Or do we want to be more on edge?
The edge is the limit we have set ourselves, which we do all the time. I run away when I’ve reached my limit. I don’t understand why but I do it. So, I’m meditating on this to find out why I have been doing this all my life. This running away is serious as it has affected so many of my significant decisions. Is it because I lack the courage to face whatever it is that baffles me? I don’t know. I will share when it gets more evident to me.