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Holy Week thoughts

By BARBARA GONZALEZ- VENTURA, The Philippine STAR Published Apr 04, 2021 5:00 am

April 4! Today is Easter Sunday. Today is also the birthday of my childhood into adulthood friend, Chingbee Kalaw Manotoc Cuenca. Who would have thought that Chingbee would go so soon?

My other dearest classmate, also from grade school to high school, Lydia Sarmiento Enrile. Did she also have to go so soon?

And Joey Hizon, my dearest sidekick at Avellana & Associates when I worked there. Why did he also have to go before me? I am older than he. Whoever told me to live past 75? Who told me to grow so old and remain still healthy?

These thoughts were like clouds in my mind’s sky this Holy Week spent under the strictest quarantine. I think it was spent idly ruminating about life, losses, disappointments, gifts.

I say “I think” because, in fact, I spent most of the quarantine in my workroom making rosaries. It remains a hobby with me even if I have to sit down and make tons of them.

Now I am working on someone’s order for 24 rosaries. After this I will have to work on an order for 50 rosaries. This order is the huge bump in my road. It is the biggest order I’ve received. Right now I feel that, when I finish the 50 rosaries, I can breathe.

Life is strange, isn’t it? Who would have thought that the whole world would be wrapped in a quarantine?

Until then I wake up each morning, have breakfast then sit and make rosaries until five. After that my back is tired. My fingers hurt. I need to stretch. But while I’m making rosaries my mind is like the sky.

That’s when the clouds roll by. No sequence at all. People I have loved and lost. Thoughts about my mother, her brother who was a Jesuit priest, her sister who was a Carmelite nun.

Of course I think of my children, too — where they are, what they are doing now. All of us are separated by the quarantine. We reach out through our cell phones or email. I watch TV and see the empty streets of London. I see a lean figure in a black hoodie walking the streets alone. I wonder if that’s my grandson. How I miss him, I realize.

I miss them all but there’s not much I can do. My family brims with adults. My grandchildren, who I played with and loved, are grown up, living everywhere but not here in the Philippines.

My heart aches wondering if I will see them again. I know I will never sing to them again as I used to when they were small. I wonder how they will feel when I die. Will they miss me? Of course they will, even if they don’t know it now. I am in my 70s and I still miss my grandmother who crossed over when I was 22.

Life is strange, isn’t it? Who would have thought that the whole world would be wrapped in a quarantine? We live across from a small mall. Starting last Monday only the supermarket and the drugstore were open. The rest of the stores — the non-essentials like the nail salon, appliance and clothing stores — were all closed.

For a whole year we have mostly stayed home but I never felt more intensely quarantined than I did this week. We really cannot go out. We go to Mass on TV. We send our helpers out to buy food and medicines. I just sit at my work table and make rosaries all day. I want to help some other people but I don’t know whom to help.

I went through my cell phone and came across a message sent to me by someone I don’t know. I received it last Jan. 3, the birthday of my surrogate dad Nicanor Tomas.

This is a woman who recently turned senior, who just lost her job and was looking for another thing to do. She doesn’t want her name revealed but if you want to hire her, even temporarily, her cell phone number is 0906-589-5482. Her birthday is Aug. 3. Mine is Aug. 8. This means she is as steady a worker as I am.

She offers her services either as office helper or household help. She calls herself FAT. That stands for “Faithful, Available, Trustworthy.” All her job applications are on hold because of COVID. 

Last Jan. 3 she said, “Please hire me or refer me to your esteemed friends. I can be your rosary-making assistant, cook, kasambahay, cleaner, gardener/plant caretaker, staff/ errand woman, child minder/pet minder/store minder, masahista reflexology, carer/caregiving for the sick, writer, calls handler, office support.” I was impressed. She essentially said she was willing to do almost everything.

Once I wrote about a housekeeper who was looking for a job. She got hired. This Easter I want to help someone who needs help. So I write about her. If you need someone, give her a call. Who knows? She may be your Easter Bunny.