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   Photo Credit : Earl Bolivar

(Visit his blog: SUROY PILIPINAS A Philippine Travel Blog)

In 1999, just as soon as I embarked on a limited practice in Geriatrics (once a month I’d fly to Manila to be with my husband who back then worked in a law firm in Makati), I encountered a tiny old lady – her back bent from osteoporosis but oh, you should have seen her when she smiled. She had the most impish grin that bordered on haughtiness if she did not like you, the most cunningly sweet smile of someone who, owing to a severe matriarchal household, commandeered her entire brood and household and sent them quaking in their knees no matter what caught her fancy at the moment and got away with it.

You see, the old lady was 95 years old and during the time, very few would bother about forgetfulness and odd behavior among the old. Family members and friends would always attribute them to aging. Nag-uulyanin lang si Lola, they would reason.(But that has since changed, thank God).

The reason she was brought to me was that, she hardly slept during the night and would be pacing about. Going up and down the stairs. She would even venture going out of the gate in the middle of the night but each time, the house help would persuade her to come back.

One night she was unreasonably, unusually restless she woke up the entire household by banging on their bedroom doors – from the son’s, to her grandchildren’s to the kasambahay.

And so everybody was awake. They all congregated on the table, the teen-age grandchildren still woozy as they grabbed a chair. The old lady sat on the head table as though she was presiding a corporate meeting.

‘What is it this time Ma?’, the son asked.

‘You have to take me to the cathedral. I want to attend Misa de Gallo’

Upon hearing this, the boys giggled and guffawed.

The Lola, unmindful of the minor commotion this demand created, hollered, ‘C’mon, all of you get dressed. Get dressed now.  It’s time for mass’ Hurry! Hurry!’

The boys guffawed even more.

The son explained ‘Mama, there is no Misa De Gallo today”

‘I don’t believe you! You better bring me there now or I’ll go there myself. You too, get dressed N-O-W!’

The son and grandchildren had no choice but to bring the old lady to far far away San Pedro Cathedral.

When they got there, the old lady, shivering from the cold, head covered with lacy white veil was aghast to see that the cathedral, as expected of a cathedral in April was dark and cavernous as it was empty.

The son told her ‘What do you expect Ma, there’s no Misa De Gallo because first  it’s April, December is eight months away and second,  it’s 2AM!’

The old lady looked at him sharply and retorted ‘No. It’s all your fault. It took you people a long time getting dressed. See, we’re very late for the mass, the priest and the people already left and closed the cathedral. Next time I tell you I want to attend mass, you better believe me right away’.

The Lola got away with it again this time.

What can I say. She’s old world, old money classy, Alzheimer’s and all. LOL

DISCLAIMER: The identities of the subjects in the vignettes and other stories on this blog are intended to be ‘anonymous’ to protect the patient and their families and keep the doctor-patient confidentiality or fiduciary relationship. The personas cited here are not meant to be blind items or fodder for gossip. My lips are zipped in that department. Some of their identities and circumstances have been altered but the nuances of their medical condition are fact and not hidden behind veiled medical-clinical fiction. Think Oliver Sack’s ‘The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat’. Okay, it’s like comparing Roederer Cristal rose wine with vin d’ table but  I know you see the drift.