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By: Judy May Geronimo
Recently, I went out with my barkada from High school. Unlike before when every time we went out, we would go to a bar where we could drink ourselves to death or go dancing until our feet could no longer take it, this time we chose a coffee bar somewhere in Tomas Morato. Maybe it’s because we’ve already matured. There. we ate and drank gallons of coffee while swapping stories and updating each other on our recent escapades.
We reminisced about our high school days and caught up on each other’ love lives. Funny, because in the middle of all the talk, the conversation centered on me. This is probably because I was the only remaining one in the group who hasn’t gotten married yet. All of my friends are married with kids. They teased me all night. They could not believe that all the years that we hadn’t seen each other, I remained unattached.
“Ano ka ba? bakit hindi ka pa nag-aasawa? Ikaw na nung high school pa lang tayo
? e kikay na ( What’s the matter with you? How come you aren’t married yet? Even when we were in highs school, you were always the fashionable sort).” One of them asked.
“Basta isang subject natin e ganun ka din kadalas mag-retouch. Tapos up to now, single ka pa ( You retouched your make up as we changed subjects . And yet you’re still single).” another friend, Lourdes, joked.
“It’s not easy to find the right man. All of you are lucky to find your true love.” I told them. Upon hearing my remark, Shalimar, my closes friend in the barkada, shared her parent’s story.
Her parents had always been a loving couple. They never failed to celebrate their wedding anniversary.
We knew this because we would always get invited to the celebration in their house when we were still in high school.
But there years ago, her parents decided to celebrate their wedding anniversary with just the two of them. After all, according to my friend, all their children already had families of their own. It was going to be their second honeymoon. There was nothing extraordinary planned though. They would simply watch a movie, dine out , and stay overnight at a hotel to cap the night. According to Shalimar, her dad brought a special gift for her mom. It was a gold necklace with a diamond-studded cross pendant. It has always been like that with her dad. He always has an anniversary gift for her mom, whether it’s flowers, a cake, a dress, etc.
The awaited day finally came. It so happened that one of their children was to give birth at the same time as their parents’ anniversary. Her dad told her mom that after dinner he would drop her off at their hotel and he would go to the hospital and check. At the hospital, her dad called her mom and told her not to worry because their grandson was so handsome and my friend’s Ate was doing fine. “Huwag ka nang mag-worry at ayos naman and anak at apo natin. Antayin mo ako dyan dahil me sorpresa ako sa ‘yo ( Stop worrying, our daughter and grandson are doing fine. Wait for me, I have a surprise for you),” Mang Ramon told his wife Shalimar’s mom waited at the hotel. She fell asleep for some time and when she awoke, she realized that three hours passed since she talked to her husband. She called Mang Ramon on his cellphone but it was out of the coverage area. “Where could he be? She wondered . It wasn’t that far from the hospital to the hotel. She called the hospital to confirm what time he left. “Ma, akala ko po magkasama na kayo, kanina pa po umalis si Papa dito. Tatlong oras na nakalipas (Ma, I thought you’d be together by now. He left the hospital three hours ago),” her daughter informed her. She called Mang Ramon again. This time, he answered. “Hello? Ramon, nasaan ka na ba? Nakatulog na ako, e wala ka pa dito (Ramon, where are you? I’ve fallen asleep waiting for you and you’re still not here),” Aling Stella asked. “Andito na ako sa balcony ng hotel, bumaba ka at salubungin mo ako (I’m already here at the balcony of the hotel, Come down and meet me),” Mang Ramon told his wife.” Sus, Kaarte ng matandang ito, akala mo e mga bata pa tayo (You’re so fussy and finicky, we are not young anymore),” Aling Stella snapped back. She went down anyway.
Upon reaching the lobby, she glanced around to look for her husband. But the was nowhere in sight.
She called him up again. “Sa’n ka ba? Di kita makita (Where are you? I can find you),” she said , already getting annoyed. “Andito ako sa balcony sabi, ulyanin kana ata e (I told you I’m here on the balcony. You’re getting senile), “he teased. She checked the balcony but there was no one There! Ten minutes passed and she still couldn’t find her husband.
Her cellphone rang. It was Mang Ramon and he told her:
“Sige, wag nating patayin ang cellphone natin, habang sabay tayong bumabalik sa suite natin (Okay, let’s not turn off our cellphones while we both head back to our hotel suite),” he instructed her.
By the time Aling Stella reached their room she expected her husband to be waiting for her. But still, Mang Ramon was nowhere to be found.
“Ano ka ba naman, Ramon, napapagod na ako sayo. Nasa’n ka na ba talaga ( What’s w rong with you? I’m getting really tired with your antics. Where are you, really)?” she scolded him on the phone.
“Tandaan mo Stella, mahal na mahal kita. Magkikita rin tayo ( Remember Stella, I Love you very much. We will eventually see each other.) After he uttered these words to Aling Stella, Mang Ramon’s phone went dead. When Aling Stella entered their room , she saw a small velvet box on top of their bed. She opened it and fund the necklace. The card on it read: Happy Anniversary, Stella.
My friend doesn’t remember the details anymore but that same night, her dad, upon leaving the hospital, met an accident and died on his way back to his wife. During the wake of Mang Ramon, Aling Stella kept telling her children: “Binalikan nya ako, binalikan ako ng papa niyo, para ibigay ang sorpresa niya sa akin ( He came back . Your father came back to give me my surprise).” After hearing the story, all of us in the group became teary-eyed, But it was the one most affected and touched and wished to myself that I would be able to find someone like Mang Ramon, someone whose love for his wife transcended even death.