Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A 15-minute Visit to a Retirement Home

(This is a repost taken from my Friendster blog.)

It was just a short visit.

It touched me spiritually and emotionally.

And it taught me lessons in life.

While penning this blog, my heart is still bleeding. I cried earlier.

Ten minutes ago, Brenda and I went to a retirement home to visit her neighbor named Frances whom I had also met once during the celebration of the Fourth of July at Brenda’s house. She is in her mid-80s. She was rushed to the hospital in Reno for a mild stroke last August and stayed there for almost two months. Every now and then Brenda updated me about her. Last week she told me that Frances was moved back here from Reno but stayed in Harmony Manor, a retirement and a rehabilitation home that is a walking distance away from Frances’ house.

So Brenda and I agreed to visit her for a few minutes after taking long walks. Brenda baked pumpkin bread for her.

When we got there, my heart became heavy that I couldn’t get myself inside the building having thoughts of what I heard from friends and what I saw in movies about the place like this. I had an indifferent feeling. A lady in an open office smiled at us. The place was clean and everything was in order. There were plenty of books and magazines inside. There were more or less five old folks doing something in a kind of living room across the open office. They smiled at us. To me they looked trying themselves to be happy. We headed to Room 406 to see Frances. She was not there but I saw few of her comfort belongings like cute stuff toy, a pretty warmer given by Brenda, etc. We went back to the open office and ask about Frances and she replied that she was in the Physical Therapy room and she showed us the way.

We headed to the therapy room while my eyes were wandering around. It was my first time to visit such place. There were old people coming towards us and they smiled and we greeted each other. There were wheel chairs in every corner. The entrance of each room has label on the names of the patient with corresponding pictures. I saw a picture of a very old man who is trying to project a smile. I could see a child in him. And I remember my grandfather back in the Philippines. He is 95 years old. It made my heart heavier.

The therapy room is like a fitness center. I couldn’t tell what are those exercise equipments inside because they were new to me but I am sure that I saw treadmill. There were televisions in two corners. The patient could watch TV while doing their exercise. I saw Frances and a therapist in the center of a two long round bars that serve as support while the patient do the walking exercise. I could see that Frances was very happy to see us. She smiled widely. We didn’t want to interrupt her so we told her that we would wait and would watch her so we took a seat. While observing her walking too slow and her hands were holding the bars, her body trembling trying to stand stiff while the therapist supported her body, I had tears in the corner of my eyes. I tried to hide them. I could see that she was doing her best just to carry herself for a walk. Oh God, I almost couldn’t stand it so I averted my eyes in the other part of the room. There was an old woman doing her arm exercise and someone came that looked like her daughter. They smiled at me. Frances requested to take a rest to talk with us. The therapist had a hard time putting her into her wheel chair.

I was happy that she still recognized me. We talked. She hardly pronounced a word but I could still understand what she meant. She said her goal is to get back to walk so that she could walk going to her house. She said she was happy that she was moved here thinking that her house is just a walk away from where she is. She said she was excited to use her new dishwasher her husband bought for her. She is excited that her husband is very busy now preparing for her coming home very soon. I was really touched.

After a few minute of talk, we bid goodbye. Brenda hugged her and I held her shoulder before we left. I had teary eyes but I still was able to read these words in the wall that caught my attention: COURAGE, DETERMINATION and ENTHUSIASM. They are visible for the patient to read while they are doing the therapy to encourage and challenge them. It really made me cry until I got back in the car. Brenda said she felt the same way too. In a cracking voice, I said to her that when she and I will get old and sickly like Frances and we stayed in a retirement home, we will just hope that somebody would remember us and would care to visit us. She answered, we will visit each other :) Her answer made me smile with tears. I didn’t know that I am an emotional person. All my life, I thought I was very strong and tough but I was totally wrong. With this experience, I really discovered the other side of me.

When I got home, I shared it to my daughter what had been transpired in my visit to Frances. She listened seriously. She felt sad too and then said “Post it in your blog Ma”. I did.

The lesson I learned is that Courage, Determination and Enthusiasm are not only for those old people who were trying to make their lives longer but also for everyone who struggled to make their lives better and meaningful.

It was just a 15-minute visit but it really touched my heart, my mind and my soul.

I hope this post touches yours too. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Bravo Ms. Carol Bacera!

(This is a repost from my Friendster blog dated October 21, 2008.)

I just watched her on Wowowee. Clap! Clap! Clap!

You might ask, “Why does bechay make a fuss about her?” or you might ask this way, “Who the hell is she?"

Well, I know her and I saw her dancing fabulously on national television today! She danced at her very best! She doesn’t know me (Sigh!) But I personally know her sisters. :) Carol and her family live in Barangay Karaos, San Francisco, Agusan del Sur, Philippines. Next to her place is Barangay San Isidro, which is my beloved barangay. Karaos, formerly called “Motorpool” was once a part of San Isidro. And it was my late Dad who recommended for its “barangayhood” who was the Barangay Captain that time. Hmmm. It seems that I am tackling history now, hehehehe!

When I turned on the T.V. and pressed the remote control on Channel 2060 which is The Filipino Channel, Wheel of Fortune segment in Wowowee was already on its halfway. Willie was interviewing a gorgeous lady and a stunning guy. I could see that they are some kind of a performer or a dancer because of their outfit. When the camera was focused to the woman, I frowned. I thought I knew her! When she greeted her children and her family in Barangay Karaos in San Francisco via t.v. I was right then! She is Carol Bacera!

Anyways, I have seen her dancing in person once or twice only and if my mind serves me right, that was during Araw Ng San Francisco Celebration and or that was during the Association of Barangay Captains (ABC) Christmas Party many years ago. She was always that graceful and gorgeous!

When she and her dance partner Gerard danced together, the studio crowd gave them a deafening ovation and they requested for another dance round! Bravoooo! So they danced Rumba and the crowd was carried away with their performance. I admit I was carried away too! Willie thought them as a perfect combination and because of that, he gave them a perfect score! Not only that. He gave them a 20,000.00php in cold cash! Though she didn’t make it to win the game, for me she was the winner!

As her kababayan, I am so proud of her! I wish her good health always and more luck!

Keep going Carol!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

It Snowed Here Today!

It’s like a dream come true to me.

Wooow! I got to see the snowflakes fell and got to touch the snow on the ground here for the first time! I have seen this only in movies! When we got here in US last April, I got to touch a “leftover” snow along the road going to Round Mountain but the feeling today was quite different.

I woke up around 6am today and it was still dark outside. Hubby came home around 7:00am and he told me that it snowed last night. I thought he was just kidding me. I went back to bed and curled up to keep me warm while waiting for Brenda since we agreed to walk at 8:30am on Fridays and Saturdays.

I woke up again around 8:15 then I noticed that our room seemed bright. When I peeked at the window blinds, I was really surprised! Oh My GOD! The yard was covered with snow! And when I looked up at the neighbor’s roof, it was also covered with snow! I ran towards the living room shouting to Jen and Jun about what I saw and they were laughing at me, they said I was too late because they already saw it and enjoyed the scene earlier. Oh gosh, I was late!

Anyways, Brenda came and we headed for a walk. I wore 3 layers of thick jogging pants aside from my warm wear and I wore 3 layers of sweater with hood, a bonnet and a thick gloves. Brenda wore same stuff too. We looked like Ninjas. Well, gorgeous ninjas! Ahem!

While walking, I got to appreciate the wonders created by God. Everything was white, the roofs, the yards, the trees and the flowers. The cars that parked outside got snowed too. Everything looked white, bright, pretty and amazing! The wind blew way too cold! Brrrrrr! I felt like I was a child taking off my gloves once in awhile and touching the snow in a car, in a plant and even in a fence! I scraped snow in a parked car and made a snowball and I played with them in my hands. I embraced the cold air, I laughed and I really enjoyed the beauty around me! I got really crazy! Brenda and I laughed together! She was happy to see me laughing and playing with the snow. She said I have not seen the whole scene on winter yet and wait until snow is 2- inch thick from the ground! Well, I don’t think I can still survive to walk when that time comes, yikes!

While exposed to the cold environment, I got runny nose and I was already shaking. And I thought to walk backwards to get rid of the cold wind that blew on my cheek, hehehe! But I was wondering how the ants, the rabbits and other animals and insects have survived in cold weather like this. I could not imagine!

Brenda said that according to the advanced weather forecast, it would be warmer tomorrow so there will be no snow. She added that it got snowed earlier this time, it is usually get snowed here only after Halloween so maybe we will have a bad winter days ahead.

Well, we will see. I cannot wait to see more snow in the next coming days!

I wished my family and friends in the Philippines will experience this! They will surely appreciate this wonderful thing on the other side of the earth that God had created!

God Bless everyone!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

We've Got our Green Card!

At long last, my teenagers and I got our Legal Permanent Card or what we called “Green Card’. At first, I thought its color is green but it is actually not :) Well, I experienced a lot of encumbrances before I got it.

I mailed the application last May 20, 2008, four days after we moved here. I got a Notice of Receipt less than a month after, then Notice of Appointment for Biometrics followed. I almost messed up my Biometrics because we were more or less 5 minutes late on our appointment time. We got lost for a million times in locating the Immigration office and it was a very humiliating experience for me and for my teenagers. Hubby was at work that time so my very kind sister-in-law took us there.

Anyways, the Biometrics was done on the 1st week of July. Afterward, I waited for the notice of the interview schedule and after a month I got it. The schedule was set on the last week of September. We waited for more than 2 hours in the Immigration Office and the interview was held briefly. In less than a week after the interview, I got a “messed up” Welcome Notice. It appeared there that Jun and me are Jen’s derivative, which was wrong because they are my derivative. So I called the USCIS about it but I was not able to get hold of them. I called them a million times, gosh, but to no avail. I was so real upset that time and I even had a serious argument with my hubby because I felt I was the only one who was trying to fix the problem. He was actually doing his part, trying to call the USCIS every now and then but it resulted the same. I became grumpy out of frustration. I even ranted and have had so many complain with him. I was bored, lazy, hot-tempered and impatient. And I did not attend ESL for 2 days. I was real bad that time. When I browsed their site, I found out that the phone lines of the USCIS were not working and they assured their clients to fix the problem as soon as possible, whew!

My husband finally got hold of one of the customer service officers of the USCIS the other Friday and informed the error. The customer service officer assured him that it will be taken cared of and he gave us reference numbers to be used when we make follow-up. He advised to wait for the green card and see it there is still errors. It may just a clerical error and the green card may come out clean. Hubby asked him if we are qualified to get an SS Number (for employment) since we already have the welcome note and he said we are qualified.

So we went to Reno last Tuesday to get SS Number. We could get the number in Elko though, which is nearer in Winnemucca but we liked it there in Reno since it has Asian Stores there where we can buy Filipino foods.

But we were frustrated when we got there. The SS officer disapproved the application. Geez. We waited there for 2 long hours! They wanted the green card as supporting document. There was nothing we could do about it so we went shopping and stayed there overnight as planned.

We stopped at the Post Office and checked our mailbox on our way home. the following day. There, hubby got 3 envelopes from the USCIS! The Green Cards! Yeheey! When I checked them, I thought there was no error at all. We were all too happy and we thanked the Lord for it. But wait, hmmm… hubby found out that Jun’s gender in the card is female, hahahaha!

Brenda took us to Elko to get Social Security Number this morning. And we finally did it!

GOD is good!

Now that I already have my green card, my next mission is to apply for a job and get hired.

Wish me luck!

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