Catching Up



“Catching up with family is like re-opening your favorite gift,” goes the saying.

Videoconferencing isn’t exactly my cup of tea, but having nothing important on my desk, and today being Mother’s Day when they invited me, I thought maybe just this once I’d give it a shot.

Besides, I need my family to help me shake off the blues, what with so many good people dying these days. For one, my old time favorite, Little Richard, for example has just passed. Little Richard the Architect of Rock ‘n’ Roll (“Lucille,” “Long Tall Sally,” “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On”). The last of the legends.

So I decided to join in on my wife’s family’s catching up via teleconferencing.

The first few minutes are filled with exciting conversation, however, everybody speaking nobody listening. There are more than 35 of us in the call with a couple of families unable to attend.

So my son breaks it up by opening prayer; then - “now that I have everyone’s attention” - suggests that we take turns giving updates, one at a time, with his guidance.

Here are a few of their updates:

The first person to share is our Ate Flor, the eldest in the family, who is currently living by herself. Her children have moved with their own families to Canada and the other states. Now that she lives alone, she manages with the help of neighbors and friends.

Next to speak is Delia’s nephew-in-law Scott whose mother has just passed away due to a non-COVID health related issue about a week ago. She was in her eighties. He narrates how they were able to share with her the things about the Lord before she died peacefully in their presence.

My wife’s niece-in-law Joy mentions how her mother, a retired nurse, recently got infected with the virus but is recovering well.

Then comes our niece Anne who updates us that things are getting better in the hospital where she works as a nurse. Most of her COVID-19 patients have gone home so that she can now afford to go home on time. She has to leave early for work today, however.

Then it is Delia’s youngest sister Edna’s turn to speak. Edna bakes great cakes for our family occasions. She is a dietitian by profession. This time she kids us she is going to send us e-cakes. Her husband Rommel is manager of a large busy Federal Express Depot operating 24/7 in Queens, so he has to continue serving the people in the midst of the pandemic. The company gave him special documentations for driving in case they’d be stopped by police.

When it’s my turn to share, the first thing I do is to ask everyone to pray for our dearly departed Nanay Ligaya (the family’s grand matriarch) and to remember her this Mother’s Day. Being the only Catholic in the group I must have let everyone feel uncomfortable by praying for the departed. My wife and all her siblings are Protestants. What matter, I believe in praying for our departed loved ones.

It is remarkable how our zoom video-conference went. Every family present had a story to share about what’s going on in their lives in this time of pandemic when everyone is on lockdown in the New York/New Jersey area (not to mention other family members calling in from California, Colorado, and Canada).

We end up by praying for each other, for humanity, for the living and the dead.

The occasion was inspiring and educational I daresay. Every little thing said counted. It also brought out the best in us. I had a hands-on experience of faith, of family, of love.

As I lie in bed tonight my pet cat Kitkat quietly leaps onto her favorite sofa beside me, and dozes off in seconds. As usual.

In this crisis Kitkat has played a big role in our family. She has given us unconditional love by her sheer presence. Watching her play always brings sunshine in the house. I pray that she’d live a longer life despite her diabetes.

My thoughts move to a news article I read a couple of weeks ago about the four tigers and three lions who got infected by the virus at the Bronx Zoo. Their handler tested positive. So that’s how animals get infected. I am concerned about Kitkat, even as a medical doctor friend of mine has assured us that the virus cannot be transmitted from animals to humans. It’s the other way around.

The day went by so fast. The week went by so fast. May this challenge we’re all facing end soon, we pray.

Little things, simple things, overtly insignificant things, but in these dangerous times when you realize how fragile life is, it is the little things that make you appreciate the preciousness of life and the family bondings that make everyone happy, very happy both for the living and the dead, to make you feel like singing with Little Richard where, when he entered heaven’s gate, there’s a “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On.”