The Power of Gratitude

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The letter of thanksgiving written by a grieving husband is a wonderful story in celebrating a Canadian Thanksgiving Day. After his 34-year-old wife suffered a devastating asthma attack and later died, the Boston writer Peter DeMarco wrote the following letter … Continue reading

Pilgrim’s Ending

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It was the end of Cesar’s pilgrimage. I know Cesar’s wife, Bennie. She organizes pilgrimages and I have joined a couple of her many pilgrimages. The Celebration of Life for Cesar seems to be a reunion all pilgrims. Such a beautiful celebration. … Continue reading

Is Today The Day We Die At Work?

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“How long, O Christ, shall we wait for thy law to be understood?” ~ W. Frank Hatheway, “The Cry of Labor” (1906) We all work for a living, we spend the majority of our life employed and we don’t know … Continue reading

In Praise of Mother: A Legacy of a Selfless Person

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I really do not know much about Mother. My siblings have asked her numerous times to write her story. If she can’t write maybe, she can record her memoir. They gave her a recorder. Thinking that she might do it, … Continue reading

Be Careful

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As we enter the Holy Sepulcher, there lies a slab of stone where Jesus’ dead body was laid. The Orthodox priests anoint the stone with rose scented oil, walking around it as they say their prayers and holding an incense … Continue reading

Dying to oneself.

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Walking down from Mount Olives is Palm Sunday road, a road that Jesus took riding a donkey. It’s downhill and I saw this man and his donkey. They must be exhausted doing business with pilgrims like me to experience where Jesus … Continue reading

Series of thoughts on living and death. We don’t have forever.

 
Basil
Give them a packet of seeds to plant and nurture.
New growth means never too late to start living.
Encourage those around who simply exist.
Show them the endless possibility of life.
Every moment is a new beginning.
You can do it.
Step by step.
Adjust along the way.
Look into people’s faces and eyes.
Simple pleasures and beauty abounds.
Hold, hug, touch, smile, visit, call… Do it NOW.
You are given this life with no plot.
Like in the movies, it has a script.
Your life has no preview.
Be active in writing your life story.
Use your imagination.
Write or rewrite.
Be surprised with unexpected scenarios.
Not knowing the exact ending.
Make it exciting.
Let it unfold.
Death is just around the corner.
You realized you have never actually lived.
Squeeze every ounce of living while you can.
Squeeze. Squeeze. Squeeze.
We only have one life.
Moments don’t last forever.
Disappearing too quickly.
Never to return.
“He is not here, for he has risen.”

Autumn of Life

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The autumn leaves can dazzle us with their magnificent colors: deep red, purple, yellow, gold, bronze, in countless variations and combinations. Then, shortly after having shown their unspeakable beauty, they fall to the ground and die. The barren trees remind … Continue reading

Goodbye and Goodluck

Cosmo: If my cat were failing in the way that I am, I would mix some sleeping medication in with top-quality ground beef, and when she fell asleep, carry her lovingly to the garden and do the rest. Who wants to die surrounded by strangers, no matter how excellent their care and competence?

Cosmo: If my cat were failing in the way that I am, I would mix some sleeping medication in with top-quality ground beef, and when she fell asleep, carry her lovingly to the garden and do the rest. Who wants to die surrounded by strangers, no matter how excellent their care and competence?

“Life seems somewhat like a party that I was dropped into. At first I was shy and awkward and didn`t know what the rules were. I was afraid of doing the wrong thing. It turned out that I was there to enjoy myself and I didn’t know how to do that. Someone kind talked to me and made me laugh. I began to understand that actually I had to make up my own rules and then live by them.

I did pick up that I needed to know when to leave, and that is now.”

Gillian Bennett of Bowen Island, BC ended her life at noon on August 18, 2014 rather than suffer the indignity of dementia. She wrote a personal blog  Goodbye and Goodluck to make public after her death.

Remembering Robin Williams

Robin Williams

Here’s a list of the most profound and beautiful quotes from the late actor who so tragically left this earth far too young. You will be missed Robin Williams.

There’s nothing wrong with being alone

I used to think the worst thing in life was to end up all alone, it’s not. The worst thing in life is to end up with people that make you feel alone.


Learn to forgive yourself, not just others

Good people end up in Hell because they can’t forgive themselves.


It’s OK to be crazy

You’re only given a little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.


Pick your battles wisely

Never fight with an ugly person, they’ve got nothing to lose.


Never stop reaching for greatness

No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world.


 Surround yourself with the right people

When you have a great audience, you can just keep going and finding new things.


All marriage, gay or straight, is the same

You could talk about same-sex marriage, but people who have been married say ‘It’s the same sex all the time.


You can’t appreciate the good until you’ve felt the bad

You will have bad times, but they will always wake you up to the stuff you weren’t paying attention to.


Women deserve to rule the world

A nuclear bomb is a man’s way of saying, ‘I’m gonna f**k up the earth.’ A woman would never make a nuclear bomb. They would never make a weapon that kills. They’d make a weapon that makes you feel bad for a while… That’s why there should be a woman president, there would never be any wars. You know this, it’s the truth. There would never be a war; just every twenty-eight days: some severe negotiations.


When you think about death and the after-life

Death is nature’s way of saying, ‘your table is ready.’


Music, like food, is necessary for survival

You know what music is? God’s little reminder that there’s something else besides us in this universe; harmonic connection between all living beings, every where, even the stars.


There’s no such thing as a perfect person

She is not perfect. You are not perfect. The question is whether or not you are perfect for each other.


Selfies are pretty narcissistic

Nobody takes a picture of something they want to forget.


Everyone has a purpose, every action has a meaning

I believe in destiny. There must be a reason that I am as I am. There must be.

 

Quotes Credit: Elite Daily
Photo Credit: Reconciling Mnistries Network

Containers vs Container

A wall full of containers called urns.  They contain the remains of dearly departed in a form of ashes and maybe a few fragments of bones.  For some, they are relics.

container urns Notice on the left corner of the wall, second level, I’ve placed my name to reserve it for my future use. Since my family are all short, this height is perfect for them.

There is one container that I treasure in a form of box, 2 x 3 x 2.  A very small box given to me by a friend.  I don’t think my relics will fit into this.

container box What I keep in the box are small memories of pilgrimages.  The first thing that went in the box is my left toe nail that I lost during my first pilgrim process following the footsteps of St. Francis of Assisi.

In death you see the heavens

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Lyric from this post

Death

Everything you know is gone away
Your soul so small and cold
It’s gone with winter snow
Never to return

And your friends so lively now
They’ll all be with you deep in the ground
They’ll be right next to you
You’ll strain but you’ll never hear a sound

So you begin to cry

Your tears water the ground
and forests spring up all green and proud
Your body so tired and worn
A tree trunk takes form within you

And your hair flames like the sun
Your feet become the animals that run
Your arms reach wide and high
In death you want to embrace all of life

But there’s a thorn in your side

All your stupid jokes
and all your misplaced notes and
all those ugly feelings
and all of that deceiving it
never quite existed it
robbed you of the present
alive your arm was twisted
in death you see the heavens

The Woodpecker

The sound of the rattling call of wuk, wuk, wuk, I can tell that the woodpecker is in the neighborhood.  The call starts slow and short; then it progresses to a rapid tone and louder.  As it turned out, the Woodpecker is either up on the roof or down below in the garden.

Between the Seagulls, Robins and Crows, the Woodpecker has to compete with these birds.  Small as it is and alone, it can scare the competitors just by its territorial call.

I was hoping that it would stay longer so I can enjoy this elusive bird but it stays only for a short while.

Last night, my neighbor reported to me that we have to have a funeral service.

Of course, I don’t particularly become surprised with her mellow dramatic character; I’m used to her performance. When there is death in the building, it’s either a cat, rat, mouse or a dead plant.  I normally volunteer to do the service.

“So… what died and where will I find the body? “ I asked.

With so much preamble from her, I basically have to pull it out from her lips what I need to hear.  First she has to make an assumption that somebody killed it.  Maybe the raccoon did it or maybe a gigantic sewer rat or etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

As it turned out, her and her husband found the Woodpecker dead underneath the umbrella tree.  They are aware that I am very fond of this bird better than their pet crows that they feed every day.

Damn, double damn; not the beautiful bird.

Armed with a spade and hand gloves, I started the service without them.  I wanted to be alone with the  Woodpecker. I did not to give it a name because once I do, I will become personally attached to it.

The bird is still soft to touch and much more beautiful closer. With its long beak, black and orange color, polka dot speck on white fluff of feathers are stunning.  Lifting its weightless body, I laid it on a bed of flowers. Gradually covering it earth, placed rocks on top and more flowers just like being a cemetery. I buried it in my secret garden.

It was all a matter of fact what I just did.  It was alive, now it’s dead.  Deep down inside, I hope there are no babies somewhere in a hollow of a tree left behind.  Now, I am beginning to become dramatic just like my neighbor and if I don’t stop this whole thing, it will make me miserable just by thinking about it. Enough.
woodpecker fly awaySo long, Woodpecker.  Fly and cross the rainbow. Thank you for being there.

 

Memorabilia: Just Listen

This is a photo of a  quote taped on a friend’s favorite spot, her desk.

We read it so many times, make up meanings and meanings change depending in our moods.  For most time we make fun out of it.

Just listen

An ant goes round and round without
rest
Like all beings in the six realms of
existence,
Born here and dying there without
release,
Now becoming a hungry ghost, then
an animal.
If you are searching for freedom from
this suffering
You must hear the sound of one hand.

These are still resonant words.
Take a break from the clamorous rat
race of modern life.

Just listen.

She was searching for freedom from suffering is the focal point of this quote.  Freedom means death.  And we both just listened for it to come.  And it did come for her and I did not hear it coming.

What is the sound of one hand clapping?  Well, it’s actually a sign for the deaf.  You raise your hand or hands and start shaking them up in the air.  This is how the deaf clap their hands. No sound.

The Big Message of an Egg

This is no ordinary breakfast.

As you can see
how sorrowful the rest of the eggs are.

Sunny side up or
Over easy.

Sustenance
Food for the soul.

Cheer up!

The big message:
that there is something essential
that you only know by dying
to who you think you are!

You really don’t know
what life is
until you know
what death is.

” Death and life are two sides of one coin, and you cannot have one without the other.”  Transformative Dying

Image source: Julia Quinn

Letter to your future self

Have you ever written a letter to yourself only to be opened in the future?  I did.

In one of the retreats I attended, I wrote a letter to myself, sealed it in an envelope, addressed to me, left it at the retreat office and mailed it to me a year later.  I completely forgot about the letter until I received it.  Excitedly opened it, read it, put it back in the envelope, stored it away and cannot recall the content of the letter.  Currently, I don’t know where I have hidden it.  Maybe one day, I’ll find it before I die or maybe my family will.

What brought me to write this is due to Taylor.

Taylor was a vibrant 12-year old girl.  She died young due to pneumonia-related complications.  When her parents were going through her things, they discovered a sealed envelope addressed to her future self:  “To be opened by Taylor Smith on April 13, 2023, only unless said otherwise,”

The letter reads:

little girlDear Taylor,

How’s life? Life is pretty simple right now (10 years in your past). I know I’m late for you, but as I’m writing, this is early, so; congratulations on graduating high school! If you didn’t go back and keep trying. Get that degree! Are you (we) in college? If not, I understand. We do have pretty good reasoning, after all. Don’t forget, it’s Allana’s 11th birthday today! Sheesh, 11 already? In my time, she just turned 1! I didn’t get to go to that party though, because I was in Cranks, Kentucky for my first mission trip. I’ve only been back for 6 days!

Speaking of, how’s your relationship with GOD? Have you prayed, worshipped, read the bible, or gone to serve the lord recently? If not, get up and do so NOW! I don’t care what point in our life we’re in right now, do it! He was mocked, beaten, tortured, and crucified for you! A sinless man, who never did you or any other person any wrong!

Read the rest of the letter here.

Related articles: WJHL story ~ Johnson City girl’s life remembered

2013 Things to do before I die: Done!

I only listed two things to do for 2013.  The third one is the gravy.  Gravy could mean I will die happy for having accomplished my endeavour.  The list is:

  1.  Cook ham the way my family does it
  2.  Cook turkey the way my family does it.


Who am I kidding?  I am not a domesticated chick that stays in the kitchen.  I’d rather
plant my own garden, be a cat woman, climb the mountain and be surprised by the light.

The Ham.  Done.  I fed it to Mr. Polish and Mother Teresa next door at Room 307.

The Turkey.  Done.

Impromptu party for YaYa sisterhood last night. They loved it.  Gave them all the left over.  Just like I said, I only eat the Pope’s nose.

As a reward for the sisters gobbling the turkey,  they each received a bottle of wine that I won at United Way and then some.  And then some means, unburdened me with gifts I received that I have no need and giving clothes that that they are eyeing for a long time.  They always enjoy coming here empty-handed and going home with party favours.

As for my reward:  The Carcass.

Mission accomplished. It’s a good day to die.

Whispering Hope

It felt like summer for the first week of April 2000.  I think I’ll go visit Mother since it’s a good day to go for a walk.  Mother is just down the hill. 
Soft as the voice of an angel,
Breathing a lesson unheard,
Hope with a gentle persuasion
Whispers her comforting word. 
The hill is a long winding steep road.  Meandering around and walking by Deer Lake Park.  It is such a beautiful preserve nature land.  Birds are singing in the air, the floral scent of the Cherry blossoms lingers, the road is devoid of vehicles. 
Wait till the darkness is over,
Wait till the tempest is done,
Hope for the sunshine tomorrow,
After the shower is gone. 
When I entered where Mother was, I was expecting there were will be some of my siblings, relatives or friends keeping her company.  She was all by herself.  I quietly sat in front of her and said: Hi Mother.  I’m here to keep you company. 
Whispering hope, oh how welcome thy voice
Making my heart in its sorrow rejoice. 
It’s far too quite here, Mother.  I hope you don’t mind me talking or better yet, maybe I’ll sing to you.  I grab a book full of songs.  Most of them I am unfamiliar with the tune with the exception of Whispering Hope. 
If in the dusk of the twilight,
Dim be the region afar,
Will not the deepening darkness
Brighten the glimmering star? 
I sang it as softly as I could in order not to attract any attention.  I can see that there are other people in the adjacent room. 
Then when the night is upon us,
Why should the heart sink away?
When the dark midnight is over,
Watch for the breaking of day. 
Suddenly, it dawned on me: here I am singing in front of a closed coffin.  I don’t even know who is inside the coffin.  What if this coffin belongs to the people next door?   I stood up, went to the coffin and quietly lifted the upper lid. 
Whispering hope, oh how welcome thy voice
Making my heart in its sorrow rejoice. 
Thank God, it’s Mother.  I went back to the pew and started singing again from the top.  I’m glad I have this one and one with you Mother.  
I love and miss you.
 
Related Links:
 

It’s a good day to die.

It was a sunny day yesterday and hot by the time it was 1o a.m.  I walked to church in this extreme weather and I thought it’s a good day to die. 
Walking to church takes me 30 minutes but with the heat, it took longer.  I felt so sluggish and the heat slows me down. 
I can’t remember the last time I was at this church.   As I recall, it was a funeral.  Here I am again, going to attend to another funeral. 
Sigh, another dearly departed.  
At my age, I am starting to resign, no, accept is a better word; accept the fact that one by one, in my inner circle, death is just around the corner. 
It’s a good day to die, I vocalized it this time with my family. My family is used to the morbid way I speak. 
Then I struck a conversation about being buried.  This is the first time I am going to an Italian and Filipino funeral.  So far so good, it’s very civilized. 
Niece #2 mentioned that she had been to a Portuguese funeral and there are so much drama. 
Well, there won’t be any drama in my funeral, for sure.  I want a party!  This body will be cremated.  Said I. 
Niece #1’s  face lit up and asked me: Can I keep some ashes and put you beside the astray while I smoke.   We are both smoker and we had so many good conversations over a cup of tea and a smoke. Or can I sprinkle your ashes in my garden since you love gardening, she added. 
Sure why not but you have to ask permission, I said. 
Her Mom interjected in our conversation that it is unacceptable in the Catholic tradition to keep some ashes for memorabilia or spread it around.  It must be buried in the cemetery.  
So much for that brilliant idea. 
In the cemetery, our dearly departed was buried in a Mausoleum.  Her site is on the fourth level. 
When the service was finished, I roamed around checking out the rows and high-rise cemetery to get an idea how the cremated ones are kept. 
This is what I found and how I want it to be when they bury me. 
Of course, the writings will be in English with a couple of additions:  a pack of cigarettes and a lighter.

A Letter for the Grieving

Hi Uncle Cee:
 
I was pondering on what you wrote about the Holy Mother; how it helped you deal with losing the love of your life. And was reflecting on Mama Mary how she dealt with grief. 
  • What was grieving like for her?
  • How long did she grieve, when did she recover and what methods did she use?
  • Who were the people who supported her during that time?
  • How did she continue living life without Jesus Christ, losing the love of her life?
  • What was it like for her to see the love of her life, Jesus Christ, suffered, crucified, put to death and buried?
Grief somehow opens up more questions.  Just like you, I questioned God and still do: WHY?  Why can’t you just take away Jan right now, why can’t you give her what she wants right now, Jan wants to die right now.  For years, 5 or longer, I watched Jan deteriorate, withering away, angry at God. Divine Retribution she says.  I say the God I know is loving, kind and merciful. 
Jan asked me to take her to a place to be euthanized.  My response was that she is not a cat; I can’t help her. Morbid sense of humour but Jan likes the blackness of it. Did God answer my questions, maybe He did.  Did I hear what God was whispering to the ears of my heart?  No. I was too busy listening to Jan and my heart ached for Jan. 
When I shared the Celebration of Life for Jan, I know I have arrived to that peaceful place where I can think of her fondly.  No tears, somehow tears won’t come and my heart is glowing with sweet surrender. 
How strange this grief I have for Jan in comparison to the death of my Mother.  And I know the next time someone dies close to my heart; it will be a different experience; for nothing can prepare me how I will feel.  I would have thought that since I welcome death as part of living, since I have taken cared of people with AIDs, since I have been trained to volunteer and counsel in the Hospice of St. Michael, I am well equipped.  Not really, I just have to have to go through it and enjoy the ride. 
I am alright, Uncle Cee.  Thank you for your help, prayers and concerns.  I hope I may be an instrument to your peace. I am here just a click away.  
Pax tecum.  Perpetua 
This is in response to DP Challenge: Writing Challenge Starting Over.   It’s fun.  Come and join us.

DP: Obituary of Lady Perpetua Siglos

Daily Prompt: In Loving Memory

Write your obituary. 

Our Lady Perpetua Siglos is Called by Joy.  Died happily doing what she wants to do.  Lived life to the fullest.  Rest in Peace.  Rest is boring.  In heaven, there is no rest but a continuous celebration of life with God.  We the living that are left behind are jealous of Lady’s leaving the earth.  We will miss her infectious determination.  A sister to the Yaya Sisterhood, an honorary member of the KofC for her brothers, constant gardener, lover of all beings, embraces the whole of mankind unconditionally.    Auntie Mame to her nieces, nephews and younger generations.

A pilgrim on this earth.

Come and join us at Our Lady of Mercy Parish Church.  In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to the David Suzuki Foundation.  Burial at Forest Lawn Garden followed by dinner, dancing, and devotion.  Come and Join us.

Lord of the Dance (song)