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Growing old and remembering

By BARBARA GONZALEZ- VENTURA, The Philippine STAR Published Mar 06, 2022 7:00 am

Once again it is summer. Why do days slip by so quickly when you approach 80 and remember vividly how slowly time passed when you were 13?

I remember turning 77 happily. A double-number year! Must be lucky! In the Enneagram, a system of classifying personality types, I was a 7 — spontaneous, quick thinker, versatile. So you can guess that I was happiest at being 77. It doubled what I had always been, good enough for me.

Suddenly I thought, in 2022 I will turn 78, two years away from 80. My goodness, I am old! In my extended family the whole generation before me has gone. It’s my generation that’s next in line. I count the number of friends who have passed on — all unexpectedly. Where once death was an event not likely to happen soon, now it can come any time. It hovers over our heads, floating softly and gently like the fluffy clouds in a blue summer sky.

When you're old, death hovers over your head.

I think my grandmother turned 60 when I was 11. I remember the fuss my mother, aunts and uncles made then. They told her not to go to market anymore. They told her to just stay home and rest. Since I was the only one who lived with her, she told me how irritated she was with that point of view. “You’d think I would die tomorrow,” she said. “I may be 60 but I’m still strong. I can definitely still go to market!”

Off to market she still went, especially during the season of mangos so she could bargain over tons of the almost-rotten ones for making her wonderful mango jam. I am sorry I never learned how to make it though I helped her prepare it. I grated overripe mangos on something that looked like a washboard. I never even asked what it was. My job was to help in the grating of mangoes and in pinning the katsa or cheesecloth around the women who would stir the mango syrup in the deep cauldron. One had to protect them from when the mixture boiled and the big bubbles burst, spraying hot liquid, possibly over them.

My grandma lived to be 84, my mother 88, my other aunts hit 90. I hope I don’t hit 100. I don’t like the idea of getting that wrinkled and toothless.

I like the way I am now. My children are all old enough. I don’t have to worry about any of them. Now I just have to worry about my husband who needs my care and attention, which I am more than willing to give because I believe I did not take care of my mother enough. Taking care of him I hope makes up for that.

Love that is true never grows old.

I especially like the way I have learned to use my cell phone. Once, I hated cell phones. Now I can watch all sorts of news on it. How I wish I could forward some of the videos I have seen that tell the truth about the Marcoses to this column. But a newspaper does not run videos.

The best one I saw recently was something shown by Angelo Diego K. Castro, the son of Angelo Castro, Jr. and June Keithley, both of whom are gone now. It was a documentary done by Angelo Castro, Jr., his father, about the Marcoses in Hawaii, when they were being investigated. It showed how they refused to reply to the questions, invoking the Fifth Amendment that says they had the right to remain silent so they didn’t incriminate themselves. You know they were taught this, because they both said exactly the same words.

It shows the wealth they took from our country. There were images of P28 million in cash, packed into cardboard boxes. The amazing jewelry of Imelda Marcos, including crowns made with real diamonds and pearls, jewelry sets that cost as much as P30 million, back in the days when, if you had a million, you could live in Forbes Park. So many expensive real fur coats! What did she need them for? She wore them all on her trips. To survive in the Philippines all you needed was a sweater to wear from December to February, Angelo, Jr. said.

They had many buildings and had many parties at discos, some of them in those foreign buildings. Angelo told a story about Imelda lending the Hollywood actor George Hamilton the money to purchase his estate in the US. One does not suspect that he paid her back. There was footage of him singing to her at a disco. He sang this to Imelda: “I can’t give you anything but love, baby...”

And indeed, that was partially true. He couldn’t give her anything but love... but was it true love or was it just money love? Because money was obviously the only thing she had plenty, plenty of.