Mom was feeding Dad his lugaw today when she told him out of the blue:
"Hindi mo na ako kinikindatan. Dati lagi kang pakindat-kindat sa kin. Kaya mo pa ba ngayon?"
She responded by playfully nudging his right arm with her fist. Then he said in a toothless murmur,
Mom hugged him as best as she could, she with her stiff lumbar belt and he with his permanent chest dialysis catheter. She jokingly asked him if it would lead to something else, which prompted me to go to the bathroom. Not that they could do anything else, but I wanted them to share an intimate moment together, for these moments are golden and don't come too often.
One other reason, the more important one (than that of a learned patience of a mother) that keeps my Mom willing to sacrifice for my Dad is, well, love. It is not just the general sense of love for family, or the marital obligation to stay "in sickness and in health", or just plain compassion for a loved one. It is the feeling of being in love, and to be able to show your affection for your beloved in any condition.
They are still very much in love. In Dad's moments of disorientation, the only clear memory is that of my mother. Mom, in turn, never fails to make him smile when she is at her goofiest especially when he is difficult to care for. They look at each other with such sweetness that it clearly explains why any of us children could never be enough to fill his loneliness, which I suspect is frequent when he falls silent, only opening his mouth to ask when she will be with him again. I try to make small talk with Dad and update him on current events, but he seems to be more interested when Mom asks him if the soup is too hot. There was one evening when he refused to eat dinner, and only agreed when we put Mom on speakerphone to remind him to eat. It's not just love between spouses, it's as if they were "going steady" again.
I totally understand how it is to feel lonely for a specific person. I haven't seen Joe for quite a while, and airborne bacteria in the hospital is such an inconvenient risk for us to meet. Watching over my Dad is a full day's work with almost no chance for "me" time, and even phone calls are cut incessantly due to Dad's restlessness when he coughs or complains about any discomfort. We will be remembering our second anniversary next week, but we are unsure if circumstances will allow us to celebrate it together. As the date approaches, I take time to think about how we have been friends for 11 years, and pray that we never forget to be friends in the years to come. After what I've seen today with my parents, I include a P.S. in my prayer to keep us in love as well.
My parents' love story is bittersweet, but its joys have always triumphed over all its sorrows. It was not easy to keep it going, but they have shown us time and again that they are right for each other. They are each other's favorite friend, the one with which they enjoy sharing the day's series of events, and the one they would say goodnight to last. Their passionate devotion to each other has evolved countless times, and I'm glad to have been there through all that. That is, of course, until they start their private jokes which sends the cue for me to exit the scene. Beautiful music seems to pipe in the room, and I am confident it will never end.