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Losing A Superhero Of A Father

There's nothing quite as difficult as saying goodbye to the most important man in your life.
photo courtesy of Warner Bros. (A Cinderella Story)

It was probably just another morning on the eighth of August 2004 when you were surfing through TV channels and happened to catch the breaking news that Presidential Assistant to House and Resettlement Nestor C. Ponce, Jr. was killed in a vehicular accident. To me, it was no ordinary day. That was the day I lost my dad.

Around that time, my sister finally moved out to prepare for the bar exams after four years in law school. My parents had been praying novenas every Sunday for her success. It seemed like one of those Sunday mornings when my dad knocked on my door to wake me up. I did not even get up to open it, but called out to say that I was not feeling well and went back to sleep. In an hour or so, I was woken up by my sister’s banging on the door, urging me to get dressed. “Mom and Dad got into an accident!” What? Where? Why? I had so many questions, yet there was no time for anything but to get dressed as quickly as possible. I kept hoping that my parents were probably wounded, but safe nevertheless.

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Death was out of my mind. As our car pulled into the hospital’s emergency driveway, I saw our relatives already waiting outside. By this time, I was really confused. I kept on asking what happened, but nobody dared answer.  We were simply greeted by sobs and hugs, when finally my tita whispered to me, “Maits, Daddy is gone.”

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Was there a time in your life when you felt like it had popped out from a movie? To me, this was the most surreal event in my life. Up until now, the images from that moment still vividly flash through my mind. I remember feeling a lump in my throat when I heard the news, and breaking into loud shrieks of despair.  I remember seeing my brother coming out of the emergency room with blood stains on his shirt, hugging us, while telling my sister, “Mag-babar ka pa rin, ha?” I remember seeing Mom, in her bloodstained blouse, crying on my shoulder as she cried out for my dad. My senses were acutely aware of every noise and sight—the apologetic look on the doctors’ and nurses’ faces that seemed to ask for forgiveness, and the indifference of the people who might have been so used to such a scene.

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The Superhero That He Was

Mom remembered Dad waking up earlier than usual to get dressed that morning. It was like he had a date with the Lord, she said. Usually, Dad would insist that I go with them to hear mass at 6 am. But he was the one who told my mom to let me rest that morning.  Mom recounted the events that happened in a snap. Another car from the opposite lane flew right smack into theirs. There was no time for screaming. Dad hugged my mom as if protecting her up to the last minute, when another vehicle came crashing into his side. Dad was a hero. We could have gone with them and died too, but he saved my life, my sister’s, and my mom’s.

Perhaps the funeral was our greatest comfort when we saw the sea of people who loved my dad dearly. Dad had been a councilor and a congressman in Tondo, Manila, before he was assigned to be Undersecretary for House and Resettlement under President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. He was always out of the house and would come home when we were already asleep. Sometimes, when he would ask me to sing for his projects, I’d always feel so overwhelmed by how much the people supported him and how much he loved them in return. He was uncomfortable being idle and always felt the need to take action in uplifting poverty in the Philippines. Yet despite his busy schedule, he possessed impressive strength. He always had time to take the family out for dinner or some music.

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During his wake, people, young and old and from different walks of life, cried with us and told stories of how Dad touched their lives. Instead of feeling even more depressed, we felt comforted that so many were also going through our grief.

Click on the next page to read more about what Maita realized after experiencing losing her father. It might help you, too, if you're going through the same thing.


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Maita Ponce
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Kathreece Quizon 21 hours ago

Today, I am sharing my mother's story. I wish my mother was a constant in my life, like an angel who guards you to sleep and comes right there when you called. But angels come back home too, in heaven where they always belonged, and my mother went back a little early. My mother died when I was 13 years old. My last memory of my mother: Letting go when you are not yet ready is a very cruel thing that one has to ever experience. It is a sudden wave of total sadness and desperation crashing into your very core.

On the 28th of July 2013, we went to a resort in Bataan for the employees’ getaway. My parents own a 7-11 franchise, and it had always been a tradition to give their store clerks a get-together every year. I remember very well the last breakfast I had with my mother. The Sunday morning sky was clear and sunny, and the sea was calm and tranquil as we ate our breakfast on a cottage under the tall palm trees. She shared with us a strange dream she had the other night. She dreamt about an unknown woman holding an ice pick chasing her down on a dimly lit street, then she woke up just before the woman could grab her arm. We never knew what that dream exactly meant and now, I wished I never knew its meaning. After breakfast, my family and our employees decided to take a swim at the beach. The day was nice. The morning air may be chilly but the sun’s kiss on our skins gave us warmth. It was perfect. Everything is fine and the tides are low which made it very enjoyable to swim. We swam a little farther from the shore and we stopped to the point where the water reached our shoulders. We were talking about the good things in life and reminiscing the good old days. Those are the things that I’ve always loved about my family because I never had a meaningless conversation with them.

A few moments later, we heard a panicking call for help from one of our store clerks. It was Rachel. She was struggling to keep her head above water. She was already drowning but the odd thing was, she was only a few feet away from us. At first, we thought she was just playing around until we felt the sand in our toes dissolving like powder. It felt like as if the seafloor submerged deeper. I remembered sighting the shore and it seemed so close yet very far away. We were all panicking at that time. No one knew how to swim except my mother so without having second thoughts she swam towards Rachel and called out to my father, “Yung mga anak mo! Dalhin mo sa pampang yung mga anak mo!” and I never thought I already heard my mother’s last words to my father. I was paddling like a dog, gasping for air, as I say a little prayer to God to take us all back to safety. I felt my father grabbing our swimsuits, trying to lift our bodies so we can breathe even though he was also struggling to keep himself alive. Once I felt my toes touch the ground, there came a veil of relief that covered my whole body. As soon as my father and my sister made it to the shore we started calling out for help. There were no lifeguards on duty at that time, no personnel, nor guards. I saw my mother already floating in her stomach. We sighted a boat sailing nearby, we waved our hands and called for their attention. They almost ignored us because they cannot comprehend what we were trying to relay but the good thing was a passenger in the boat noticed my mother and Rachel in the water.

My mother’s body was laid on the shore. She was unconscious and her whole body was pale as white. My father performed CPR but my mother couldn’t get the water come out of her mouth because the food she ate earlier got stuck in her throat and blocked the passage. A concerned tourist offered his car to deliver my mom in a nearby health center or a clinic of some sort since the hospital was miles away from the beach and she needs immediate care. My father told us to stay in the hotel room and prepare mom’s belongings so that if she wakes up she has fresh clothes to change into. My sister and I finished packing our things and waited for our father to pick us up from the hotel. I was crying and I couldn’t stop myself because I was afraid to lose my mother. I couldn’t imagine what my life would be if I lose her that day. Moments lasted until we heard a knock on the door and it was my father, crying, and apologizing to us. He hugged me and my sister tightly and saying, “Sorry, anak, sorry hindi na uuwi si mommy, sorry hindi ko nasagip si mommy”. And that was the moment I felt sinking into the ground. I never knew what to feel at first. I was numb because my worries were now actually a reality that I have to live in. I was at shock because I am now one of the kids in those cliche teleseryes who lost a mother at an early age. We went to the health center to settle everything. The clinic was very small and it sure did lack equipment. He told us to stay in the car. I wanted to see my mom, but I know he never wanted us to see her like that. I didn’t know what to feel. I was having high anxiety levels that my stomach is churning and I wanted to vomit. I got off the car and entered the health center to find the restroom. When I was finding my way around, I passed by the emergency room. I saw my mother lying in a foldable bed, lifeless, her hands dangling from the side of the bed, she has violet bruises on her skin, and her body was partially covered with a white towel.

That is when it sunk into me that she’s dead and never coming back. My father asked the others to just commute back to Manila because what we need right now is comfort from our family. The drive back home was one of the most painful memory I had as a kid. My father was in the steering wheel crying his eyes out. We drove from Bataan to Pampanga. We went home to my grandmother’s house, the nearest house that we can call “home” because how are we still going to be “home” without her?

Once we reached Pampanga, we stopped over to the gas station and my father made some calls to our loved ones to tell them that my mother passed away. He then called my aunt to help him arrange for the funeral. We got home and my grandmother hugged us and told us to get some rest. Already tired of crying, I went to sleep for a while. I woke up and for a second, I thought everything that happened the other day was all just a dream. That she was there in Manila, sitting on the couch reading some furniture magazine, waiting for us to go home. But that’s how cruel life is, right? I got up and weirdly, I felt sands in the bed. It was gray, just like the ones on the beach. I thought maybe it was just dirt but it was a fair amount to believe that maybe she visited us before she left. - ?

- The part of how I conquered the grief of her passing is shared in my personal blog. I felt the need to share my story with everyone since she's the woman I look up to. Feel free to visit my personal blog too when you have the time. I love writing my stories. Thank You! link: http://qkathreece.wixsite.com/kathreecequizon/post/breaking-waves

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