ON ADORACION “Doding” Mariscal’s 79th birthday bash last May 1, the celebrant struggled to get her birthday wishes out of her mouth because the entire left side of her body lost muscle control, with her face and lips even drooping, due to a past brain surgery. She haltingly said in her soft-voice as she addressed her party guests: “I could have died 10 years ago, but because of my children’s love, I am still alive. My primary caregiver is my son, Wilt, the second to the youngest. For now, I wish my journey will end soon so Wilt can start to live the life he deserves. I have lived my life well. I am ok.”
It was a very touching speech that pinched hearts. Affliction, suffering, and burdens indeed have the power to bring graces that at times cannot be seen in a time of health. The appreciation of small things, learning to cope amidst pain with heartfelt acceptance, making time for passions, and leaning on family are just a few examples. In this inspiring story, we learn how to trust Him and have the strength to go beyond our comfort zones. It breaks gender-roles—with a devoted son, who selflessly gives up his life to care for his mother, which is usually a responsibility that falls on a daughter.
One of Doding’s 6 children, Weena, shared that they always have a grand celebration on her birthday—“My siblings and I always band together to make this event memorable. Mom was given only a few months to live after her craniectomy (brain surgery). But look at her now, 10 years and 3 months after, she is still alive. You know what’s ironic; her own doctor who performed the operation was the one who died 4months after my mom’s procedure. We couldn’t believe it. How the twist of fate works!”
Weena also affirmed that her mother’s recovery, albeit not complete, is due to Wilt. His devotion and love for his parents have extended their lives. She said: “Actually, the journey began in 2005, when my father (Eliezer) was diagnosed with emphysema. He was mostly bed-ridden because any movement wore him out. He needed oxygen all day, every day. Wilt was then an electronics and communication engineer (ECE) in ABS-CBN for 5 years already. He had a prospect to go overseas, but when Papang got sick, he gave up everything and went home to Kidapawan. He took nursing in 2006, so he could take better care of my parents. All of us love our parents, but I could tell my brother’s affection was above and beyond. I honestly can’t do what he has done, that’s why I am forever grateful to him!”
With a melancholic smile, Weena added that the health issue of her mom followed in 2008—“She could not breathe and had an emergency thyroidectomy surgery in January 3. Three days post-op, she was only 10percent awake. She was unable to recover and had a CT-scan on Feb 12. They found a huge brain tumor and did surgery on Feb 16. Wilt was inside the operating room with my mom. She spent 2months in the ICU at Brokenshire Davao. With God’s mercy, all my siblings and I were able to take care of the financial side. This is where I learned that God will always provide, just as, He will not give us what we cannot handle!”
During that time, they were afraid to tell their own father the severity of his wife’s illness. Eliezer himself was in a very fragile state and could die anytime. Dodong just knew that his Doding was recuperating in Davao, while he waited in Kidapawan. Weena stated: “We told him that Mamang was gathering strength for the journey home. The saddest part, because Wilt and mom were absent, dad lost his zest for life. Even if I eventually went there to be with him, he just slowly declined. Imagine, my mom was all set to go home May 12, but my father died on May 11. That is their tragic love story!”
Because of her children’s love and support, Mrs. Mariscal found the courage to move forward. She was a retired elementary teacher by then, and aside from her own children, the sweet messages of her siblings, church group, and many friends (because she had invested so much in her community) pushed her to continue with her rehabilitation. It was not easy and took years as the surgery left her with the following issues: a weakness on her left side, problems with speech, inability to walk, and difficulty in swallowing.
The 3rd child, Wilma Mariscal, who works as a nurse in the US said: “The reason why my mom is alive is because of God’s grace through his instrument, Wilt. Me, I can only send money, but Wilt does everything for her. Everyone here knows him. They always go on dates, even if it is hard because she’s on a wheelchair. My mom has 2 caregivers, but when he is around, Wilt prefers to be the one to spoon-feed her. And when he’s on duty in the OR, he keeps calling to check up on her. He even tells her until now, if kuhaon naka ni Pa, ayaw kuyog. He is happy and content caring for our Mamang. He may not be a perfect person, but he is a perfect son.”
The moment the doctors tell someone you love that they only have a few months to live, there will be a tsunami of overwhelming emotions not just for the sick person but for the entire family. The material things that normally bring comfort get destroyed; only family and friends (who have become family) are left to help ride the waves of turmoil.
It is through an earth-shattering diagnosis like this where people realize the limits of science and the limits of human knowledge, and people are given an opportunity to trust the will of God because He is the driver and we are mere passengers in this grand journey called life. Always have faith, and hold onto hope, and above all else, LOVE not just through words but through deeds. Love is the best medicine and comfort in trying times.
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