Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Today is Our 55th Wedding Anniversary




Today is our 55th wedding anniversary. We are old in chronological age but very young in spirit. My wife, Macrine and I have four adult children ranging in ages from 47 to 54 years old. We have six grand children ranging in ages from 9 to 21 years old. No grand celebration today, just a lobster and steak dinner and our regular weekly Casino escapade.

Our love story started in the early 1950's at the University of the Philippines, in Diliman, Quezon City. I was introduced to my wife via her uncle, the late Reverend Father Constantino Nieva. At that time, Fr Tino ( that's how we called him when he was still alive) was a law student and the President of the University of the Philippines Student Action (UPSCA). UPSCA was a student organization with both social and religious goals under the guidance of the Late Reverend Father John P. Delaney, a Jesuit priest and Chaplain of the University for Roman Catholic residents of the UP campus. Macrine and I love music. We joined the UPSCA choir and our friendship developed into true love. In 1955 when I graduated from the University, Macrine and I had separated, since she transferred to another university.

However the next year during my 22nd birthday, she surprised me with a birthday cake, that she baked from scratch. It was an orange-chiffon cake, the best tasting cake I have ever tasted. We got together again that day. On May 8, 1957 we got married in Boac, Marinduque, her hometown. It was a 3-day celebration. The whole town were invited. Two water buffaloes, 10 baby pigs and 100 chickens were slaughtered for the occasion. We settled at our new home in Quezon City, a gift from both our parents.

I was then teaching Chemistry at the University of the Philippines- my Alma mater. In 1959, I received a positive response from my application for scholarship to do graduate studies in Chemistry to the United States. This stage in our married life is discussed in an article I wrote in my blog as follows: “A year later, we were joyful to find out that my wife was in the family way with our oldest son. With all the blessings and major events transpiring in my life, I had completely forgotten about my personal vow to do graduate schoolwork in the US. One day I was surprised to receive a notice of an acceptance for a full teaching assistantship and scholarship. It was from one of the applications I sent out before we got married. The comfort and serenity of our married life was about to be shaken.

I enthusiastically shared this good news with my wife, who wasn't too glad to hear about it. The thought of me leaving her alone with a child on the way, to go halfway around the world, distressed her. We had several long and unproductive discussions regarding this favorable opportunity. I had to postpone my trip a few times to appease her. I was torn between choosing my ambition to do graduate studies in the US alone, or staying with my wife in the Philippines.

I had to make a tough decision before the graduate school offer expired. In retrospect, I was thankful to and appreciative of my late father-in-law who intervened on my behalf. If not, I would have been stuck in the Philippines teaching Chemistry at the university, and would have never seen the fulfillment of my ambition. I was not aware that he had advised my wife to reconsider her decision, and let me go freely to pursue my dreams.

My wife later on informed me that without her father's advice, she would not have given me her full consent to leave her and pursue my studies. She was not aware of the importance of my personal vow to do better in life, in light of failing to obtain my Latin Honors in college. Inasmuch as my wife was anxious with our impending separation, I was deeply saddened to leave her alone, but excited to go and fulfill my dreams. I went ahead to the US for my graduate studies, but I was totally unprepared for what was in store for me. It was my first trip away from my homeland, family and friends. I was going to live and study in the American Midwest, and I had to adjust to the western lifestyle, culture and cold winter weather without any friends or relatives to comfort me.

During my first year in the US, the reality of living alone and studying in a foreign land negatively affected my drive and ambition. I was tempted twice to nearly quit school, leave the US and return to my family to the Philippines. Graduate schoolwork while teaching Chemistry was tough and demanding. I was miserably homesick, lonely and missed my wife very badly, especially during the Holidays and Christmas. Moreover, the winters of Chicago were harsh, and can feel gloomy and depressing. It was difficult to tolerate the cold weather. I was accustomed to the tropical climate of the Philippines. In Chicago, I oftentimes asked myself what the heck I was doing in the US, with tears running down my face, and almost freezing on my cheeks and nose because of the frigid temperature. I could be happier and warm in my homeland, and be together with my cherished family.

The promise I made to fulfill my ambition, which was triggered by the one point I missed at the final examination in my Differential Calculus class, kept me going. I did my best with my work and studies. I never again considered quitting, and I was determined to finish what I had started. I finally made it, and I completed my Doctorate degree in Pharmaceutical Chemistry from the University of Illinois in 1964.

A year after I left the Philippines, my wife and our first baby, whose birth I did not witness, joined me in Chicago, Illinois. Their presence provided me with inspiration and encouragement to fulfill my ambition”. The day after my Ph. D graduation was the start of my 25 years of professional career working for four private companies here in the US and then for another productive 12 years for the Food and Drug Administration(FDA).

In 2002, I retired from FDA and started building our beach resort and retirement home in Boac, Marinduque, Philippines.

Last year I wrote an article in one of my blogs on my secret of a lasting marriage. An excerpt of that article is as follows:

“Several of our friends and relatives often ask me what one has to do for a lasting marriage. In other words is there a formula or secret for a lasting marriage? The question has no specific answer and may vary from one couple to another. However, I do believe that the couple must really be in love with each other unconditionally. So, when do you know that both husband and wife have attained unconditional love?

You are truly in love with your partner when you have totally accepted her or his faults, weaknesses and flaws. There is no perfect human being, so once you have attained this outlook in your married life, your are indeed truly in love with your partner.

Do I have a secret formula for a lasting and happy marriage? I have no secret except that there should always be an open communication between you and your partner. In the case of my wife of 55 years, Macrine Nieva Jambalos, I have accepted her flaws and she has accepted my flaws and weaknesses. In addition, both of us have recognized our strengths as well as our gifts and different personalities.

Again there is no perfect human being, and no perfect husband or wife. Our communication skills are perfect, we even think of the same things at the same time. A couple of days ago, when both of us were sitting in the patio just relaxing, all of a sudden I asked her about our grand daughter. Macrine was so surprise because at that moment she was thinking of exactly of the same subject. She asked me if I was reading her mind. Couples who have been married for a long time have usually the same likes and dislikes. But this is not a guarantee of a long lasting marriage. Sometimes, it is better to have different things to do, perhaps even a different hobby so as not to suffocate each other every minute of your daily life”.

This is my love story- 55 years of patience, love, give and take and true communication.


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Guest Article from Susan Creamer Joy

In The Silence, by Susan Creamer Joy.

Today's guest article is from Susan Creamer Joy. Susan is one of my favorite authors in the ViewsHound community. Susan writes, draws, paints and cobbles together art from found objects making a variety of creations from jewelry to religious shrines. She frequently sports burns on her fingers from her soldering iron, paint on her palms and ink under her fingernails, but her hair is usually combed. When she is not losing time in the creative vortex of her studio, she is likely to be putting her knowledge of metaphysics and esoteric principles including Tarot, numerology, astrology and graphology to good use in consultations. Her children are grown, her husband still works and her four dogs believe she needs serious help. The title of her article is "A Matter Of Love And Death". Thank you Susan.

By the time they reached my bedroom door, I was already sitting up – my stomach ratcheted in the tense grip of an unnamed anxiety; my pillow, unburdened of my drowsy head.

To this day I cannot explain how I heard them coming up those stairs in their bare feet or how I knew that my father struggled to hold his composure as my mother unnaturally clutched at the folds of her dressing gown and followed him through the dark just a little too closely.

As the wooden groan of those old stairs tore into my bones that morning like a hacksaw, all I could see between the predawn shadows was the letter I’d written just hours earlier to my boyfriend, Chris, propped against the lamp on my desk across the room awaiting an envelope.

I had not slept well. It was late November and there had been so many changes since the middle of August when he left for the Air Force in Texas to begin basic training and I began my third new school in as many years.

The conspiracy between fate and the last surge of the Vietnam draft had broken apart the every-waking-minutes of our two-year union with unceremonious indifference. All that night my sleep had been infested by difficult dreams and by the illogical fear that truth and reality were merging into a darkness only a martyr could grasp; and at sixteen, martyrdom seemed reasonable only for the nuns among the poor in Bangladesh

I tried to remind myself that he would be home on leave for Thanksgiving in another few days. It was the only tether to calm I could find, but reviewing the facts offered little relief from my baseless fears.

Chris had been girding his pacifist sensibilities preparing to fight in an unpopular war that had not yet slaughtered its last innocent. I was hovering just over the line of inclusion at an exclusive girl’s school – missing him – and finding myself at odds with these young women and their attachment to propriety and with the prep-school veneer that blinded them to the fact that they were no better than anyone else.

Neither one of us was coping well with the worlds into which we were respectively summoned, and although we both knew that the best hope for any future together depended upon our individual successes apart, it was far from comforting most days.

But in spite of our discomfort, we each did our best; and, of course, there were the letters: Thin, plain-paper sheets with row after row after row of inky blue words penned with the intensity and awkward locutions of a love learned too soon. It had come down to just that little, but without them, I would have had nothing.

Chris was learning to fly. I was learning to drive, and both of us were aching to transport our souls to an earlier time through the hallowed intercourse of memories and dreams. Of course, as with all progress, there was the positive element: We were both clean and drug-free for the first time in years.

Now, without pretense, both healthy cognition and sincere motivation surfaced regularly in my psychology and prompted me to care about myself and to arbitrate against all temptation for a better standing in the world, in school and in my own eyes. I even did my homework.

No longer was I escaping today but, instead, living for my day of escape. Lying still in the dark of my room, I listened to the slow, padded footfall of my parents approaching and looked to the floor and to my history book half hidden beneath the nightstand where I’d tossed it the night before. Even in this early morning dark I could make out the swirls and stars in colored marker and the bubble-formed letters that spelled C H R I S in soft, juvenile curves on the torn book cover I’d fashioned out of a brown paper grocery bag.

I vaguely remembered throwing it there somewhat hastily. I had been doing my homework when a sense of urgency struck and I realized I had not written him as I promised I would and glancing at the clock, I noted it was nine-twenty-three. Why that mattered I had no way of knowing in that strange moment, but within hours, it would be one I would never forget; and although I was becoming drowsy and still needed to finish my work, I felt beyond reason that my letter to him could not wait.

So, I wrote. I would always write. I would always be there. He would always be there.“Suzi."It was my name spoken in the smooth and familiar voice of my mother, although weighted and slow, her head bowed to her chest almost as though she were speaking only to herself.

"Suzi.” She said it again, this time with sharp gravity, like a chisel against stone.

As if on cue, I leaned forward, flanked now by my parents who were sitting on either side of my bed.

I had been waiting for them. I don’t know how. I didn’t know why. The lights in my room remained off, but it seemed that the darkness clung more to them than to me, as though they were holding it there – away from me to give me enough light to see through the next moment. They were crying. My father was crying. My father. “Suzi. We have something very, very bad to tell you." Chris has been in a car accident." And he was killed."

If the world moved forward from that moment, I could not know it. f there were air around me worth breathing, I could not take it in. And if there were another sound beyond the leaden bellow of my own raw grief, I could not hear it.

"Who am I going to talk to? Who am I going to love?” I wailed. Who will love me? In that sodden moment violated by the intrusion of a predawn light that had no business rising, everything I ever believed about happiness, hoped for in life, trusted in or held as my own was annihilated.

After that – there was no after that. After that came months of hollow redundancies that would inform my way of being in the world for years to come. A serial commitment to waking up each morning, remembering he was gone and dedicating the remaining hours to forgetting. To that end I would try anything, drink anything, ingest anything, inject anything. It was a slow and arbitrary suicide by indifference.

Many years later, at 25 years-old and in the midst of a pharmaceutical free-fall leaning dangerously close to terminal, I discovered that I was expecting a child, and after a decade of forgetting, I remembered. I named him Griffin after the legendary winged lion, a symbol of the divine because what he inspired and the miracle that he was, were nothing less. I remembered and I loved again, and I went on to marry and to the gift of two beautiful daughters.

Today my son is struggling not to drown in the same well of drug abuse and apathy that almost swallowed me – his great, divine wings clipped by his own hand; and while it is up to him to restore his place in the sky, I will do my best to help provide an open runway.

In the meantime, I will continue soaring for both of us; bequeathed as I have been, with a determination to fly from a boy whose ragged fate precluded that dream.

Death took one young man from me once upon a dark time. If it has any intention of coming for this one, it will have to go through me. And trust me, it will be in for one hell of a fight.

Note: If you enjoy this article, please let me know.

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I love gardening, play duplicate bridge, has collection of orchids, bougainvillas, hibiscus and other tropical plants