Waiting for the Endoscopy (and My Boyfriend)

Inang: How long until we can go home?
Me: We’ll have to stay here tonight, Inang. Maybe a few days.
Inang: *dramatic pause* I’ll die now.
Me: Don’t say that. I haven’t found a boyfriend yet. And you have to stick around long enough to meet him, at least.

Inang Gone Wild

Today, we took Inang to the hospital. 

Every morning, per our normal routine, I check on Inang before heading into work. She was still sleeping when I got there this morning. I noticed she seemed paler than usual and asked my parents (who are real-life medical professionals, unlike myself who just fakes it) to follow up and see what might be wrong, as I had to get to work for an early presentation.

The presentation went well, and as I settled back into my office to catch up on emails, I noticed that my mom had sent me the following text:

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“Don’t get alarmed.”

“She does not need blood transfusion.”

“Vomiting. Pooping. Blood.

I left the office within fifteen minutes of receiving that text message, and arrived before Inang was scheduled to go up for an endoscopy. As we waited, Inang struggled quite a bit with the idea of using the restroom in an incontinence garment* the nurses had supplied her.

“But I want to walk.”
“You’re not allowed to. You just had a GI bleed.”
“But I need to use the restroom.”
“Then use it. Let it go, Inang. Let it go.

Inang was not amused with the Idina reference.

After a while, Inang had no choice but to comply with the thought of using the incontinence garment, which I’m sure she was not happy with and ultimately led to certain acts of rebellion.

Like, full-on disrobing.

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Not really Inang, but you get the idea.

And I get it. If someone told me, “Hey, use the bathroom on yourself,” I’d want to get as clean as possible, as quickly as possible – even if that meant stripping down to my birthday suit in front of my kids, grandkids, nieces, nephews, and kind Malaysian maintenance man who was in the room to fix my curtain. 

You could hear Inang’s heart shatter after we told her she wasn’t going home tonight. No amounts of “We’re staying with you! We’re staying with you!” brought any comfort to her (or maybe it was the fact that my dad and Uncle George joked around about going fishing tomorrow). 

I’m praying that Inang gets to go home quickly, and that Tuesday’s tests bring about positive news rather than the alternative. Until then, Inang and I will be on mini vacay, glamping out at Hotel West Houston Medical Center, where we accept gifts in the form of coffee, chocolate, and telenovelas (just kidding, Inang’s NPO… I’m not though).

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Where the party never stops
And Inang’s panty drops

*who are we kidding? it’s an adult diaper

Blue Moon Moments

“Jill, where are you?”
“Still at work. Why?”
“Come to our house for dinner. Your aunties and uncles are coming to visit Inang.”
“When?”
“Today.”
“Uh, okay. I’m still at the office. What time?”
“Now.”

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Three generations of Fortins assembled in one house, tearing into some of our family’s favorite dishes (including mine – kilawin and fishballs, what what!). I had posted this picture on Facebook, but my parents called me and demanded (on speakerphone) that I edit the food pictures out, “because there’s only one fish! They will think we did not have enough food!”

It’s days like this- days when we are all together, days when we’re laughing, joking around, and (90% of the time) making fun of my love life- that I catch glimpses of Inang’s old, vibrant self. Her giggling eyes, her relaxed demeanor… they are things I rarely ever see anymore. I see her sit back in her chair a bit further, watching us and soaking it all in. I wonder if she ever thinks to herself, “By the grace of God, I did this… and what a job I did.” When I think about this, I feel the pride she must feel, the puff in her chest, the glowing warmth in her heart.

But then I think of what else she might be thinking, and it makes me sad.

“Why are these moments so few and far between? And where is everyone else?”

But First, Let’s Take a Selfie

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We sure do love our selfies.

We take lots.

Of course, Inang has to approve of them – especially if she knows I’m going to be posting something “in Pacebook.” But she loves taking them – even the bad ones. I think it’s so she knows there are pictures out there to show her loved ones in other states and countries that she’s doing okay, that she’s laughing. Also, I suspect another reason is so she knows there will be lots of things out there reminding us of her.

As if we needed them. Silly Inang.

Most of our selfies are taken when she’s in bed, usually because by the time I get done with work/ quick exercise for the day, she’s already tucked herself in. I know I’m always welcome to crawl under the sheets with her; she always pulls the covers aside so I can get comfortable and tell her about my day.

When I ask her about hers, she mostly has her ailments to report. Her leg was hurting today. Her knees are sore. She didn’t make it downstairs until noon. 

That’s when we decide to whip out my phone or her tablet, to partake in things that actually make her happy, rather than remember the things that made her sad. 

That’s why we love our selfies.

And why we take lots.

Always

Inang: (waking up) Oh, you are home now?
Me: Yes, Inang.
Inang: What time is it now?
Me: Around 9:00.
Inang: I thought you are not coming home anymore.
Me: Why would you think that?
Inang: Because it’s late already.
Me: No matter how late it is, I’ll always come and check on you.
Inang: That’s why you are good. You always come home.

Surveying the Land

As Inang’s arthritis continues to worsen, daily exercise becomes more and more of a struggle. One of her favorite opportunities to break a little sweat is gathering vegetables in my parents’ lush garden.

Like the mountainwomen of old

Don’t mind the mess – parentals are currently renovating their kitchen

She’s Either Been in Texas Too Long, or Really, Really Desperate

Inang: What are you going to ask your mom to bring back for you from the Philippines?
Me: Oh, I don’t know. Shoes, maybe. Things for the house.
Inang: You should ask her to bring you home a husband.
Me: What! No! I’m not attracted to Philippine-born Filipinos. Sorry.
Inang: (ignores comment)
Maybe she could find one of her relatives.
Me: What? One of her relatives.
Inang: Yes, one of her relatives to come home and be your husband.
Me: (flabbergasted)
But if they’re her relative, they’re also my relative! You can’t marry your relative. You shouldn’t suggest that.
Inang: Why not? I married my relative.

Car Chats: What Would REALLY Help Me Is…

Inang: Sometimes, I cannot bring the laundry basket up the stairs.
Me: I know. I’ve told you a million times to wait until I get home so I can bring it up for you.
Inang: Ayy, if I have to hem clothes before I sleep and you have to work late, what shall I do then?
Me: (sigh)
I’m going to get you one of those electric elevator chairs that you ride up the stairs. It’s not terribly expensive. You can ride it or send the laundry basket up in the seat.
Grandma: (as we pass Sugar Land Regional Airport)
What you SHOULD buy is an airplane.