I never cried over failure and loss. I always move on to the next. Always waiting for what is Gods next plan for me. This make me excited all the time because it makes me hopeful and challenged but ready. In the summer of 2019, The Philippine Community Center Services for Aging made me a chairman of the Board. They named the home living program after me and I was actively in charge of the Irene Lumbrera Home Living Program. My health got better, too with improved housing conditions.
Inching from a negative balance as I came back to New York, my bank is getting filled again as I make a trip to the bank every month, with Myrna diving me as I dress up with all my fancy jewels and sun shades, hiding my cane in a disguise of a beautiful umbrella, a beautiful matching hat for a well-dressed rich and famous, I have no job, but I am provided for. I have a room for myself on a corner brick house, I have somebody taking care of me around the clock from my public trust, enjoying my food stamps for a dinner of grilled pompano and Cabot cheese spread on my toast for breakfast. With some city housing assistance, do I need any more? And soon, I will choose the country of my citizenship, so help me God.
I know how it feels to be homeless because I was there so many times before. While I lost a home when I became an Iglesia, I gained them all and much bigger, in the community as the Church of Christ. I have never felt so proud to belong in this family.
When I went home to the Philippines to retire, I was feeling that there is something not right or perhaps I am missing New York already. After a month, I can no longer take the misery, so I asked my son to get me a plane ticket back to New York. Then I met my friends Ludy and Myrna again. In a period of a year, I have lived in so many places courtesy of The Nursing Office. I lived in the basement, I lived in the sala, I lived anywhere they can squeeze my bed. I was always sick as a result. My Primary Doctor Sherwin Batoon took care of me, anytime, day and night. His nurses took an extra mile to help me, or how could I survive my chronic problem, I am always coughing and short of breath. Or I will forever be in the hospital and to the nursing home.To all specialists I was sent, but they cannot find anything. I have never smoked but could have inhaled so much from the streets of the city that I call home. Could it be from the ashes of Taal as it erupted in the sixties when I served the victims food and water? As I always had, I have learned to live with what I have. From my background of Medicine with Juaning, I always survived my episodes, longer and longer, I stayed homebound, without going to the hospital again. Like a cat, life comes back, like a rubber ball, I bounce back. I even asked the Father, if He can take me “home” already, but I guess, He is not done with His plans for me. I do not wonder, but I trust in Him, eager for a surprise each day!
While it is not my choice to be still alive, I have asked God before, in my near death, I know that there is still something for me. While I have my needs provided for, there are numerous aging people out there, with all the miseries of being alone and isolated, sick and frail, scammed and taken advantaged of their lifetime earnings, robbed off their dignity, The Philippine Community Center Services for Aging is giving back and making a difference in the lives of seniors and elderly persons by "Preparing and Enjoying the Golden Years ". This advocacy has given me deeper meaning in my life, far beyond the personal satisfactions I have already experienced and achieved. Indeed, the best and most satisfying life is serving those who are truly in need. The ultimate dream and mission is for it to become an "enduring" institution to serve one of the most forgotten sectors of the Filipino American community.
At ninety-one years old, I have no more fear of anything, more so of death. While the reality of the virus pandemic is everywhere, I have surrendered my destiny to God’s Will. I have painted the greatest mural of my life, with all my dreams and life’s works. I have mastered my body; I have prepared my soul. I know what to do and I am happily waiting. I will meet God, my Father, with all the grandeur of the Promised Paradise, that no words can justly describe but “Heaven”. I was blessed with good memory, my marbles shiny, intact as ever. My niece, Nita who is fond of me, asked me to write the Family Tree. I only know one way to do it. I will integrate the stories here and add more color to the pages of this book, my wall. I can only be as accurate from the first and second generations, knowing the family either by their names or a brief description of them. I have started this book as a family legacy and heirloom for the future generations to cherish and be proud of as they continue their search for a meaning why there is so much to know of this life so full of memories and treasures over the past century. Then my life is well accomplished. Like my IngKong, I will ask my ward to give me a bath and put on my dress to prepare me for the journey when my soul takes that last glimpse on the world where I lived to go to the next.
I will transform while in my deep sleep dreaming of my garden with all the flowers in bloom as the gate opens with all my loved ones in joyous reunion; the woman with the long hair side by side with the man wearing a buli hat, who is my mother with my father and all my ten siblings, Juana, Mario, etc, …………. my Inkong Igmidio, Impong Polin, Juaning, Ka Felix, Dr. Leviste, the rural doctor, Mrs. Lopez, my friends, and my dogs I enjoyed so much, sixty in all. Until then, Life is sweet to be enjoyed with my family and friends. Near or far, it is just the same, it does not matter, but the attachment of a common bond of love, respect and caring, in words, in thoughts, good and happy memories indeed, without regrets. To me, I am home at last, until we all will meet again!
I can only pray for Carmen and Imelda. I hope to see them there as well. Carmen is beautiful, my niece and first born of Juana. She is beautiful as a child and very intelligent. She graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of the East, of more than a thousand graduates. She came to the US and worked in the United States Internal Revenue Service in Connecticut. We grew up together, I helped Juana to take care of her. We have differences because Juana always favored her. I got to kneel on a bed of salt. How can I forget as she threw me out from her car in the middle of the highway in a busy New York? I was soaking wet from the rain as I walked to the nearest bus stop. I can understand why she did not get marry, with nobody of her fifteen siblings close to her, either. She lives in Flushing and will be alone until the end.
While I am the last living child of Isko and Antonina, I am the last matriarchal great grandmother of …., son of my first grandson, Princely I, a nurse, who married, on that year when I was supposed to retire in Lipa in 2017. I have walked with God and have earned heaven and exalted with the honor of sitting by the “kabisera”, which is a reserved seat for respect, and honor. There I will remember Juana and her fifteen children she has loved all the days of her life since she was seventeen. Carmen, Virgilio, Iluminada, Angelina, Eduardo, Juanita, who came to America as exchange scholar, Juanita, Pedro, Jr. Monchee, Lenny and Ching are like twins, they were always together, Doroteo, Margarito, …... Chona, the youngest, died in her teens. I hope I did not miss anyone.