Because of You: “Dahil Sayo”

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Each time I say goodbye to my mother after a cross country visit

I never know if I will see her again.

In her room, before I leave, we a share moment, just the two of us, singing the words of an old Filipino song,

Dahil Sayo”: Because of You

As she sings her head is slumped, her neck at an angle since her stroke two years ago.

Yet from beneath her mop of grey hair

she turns her eyes up to look at me.

She mouths the words to the song familiar in her fading memory, her voice a whisper.

Together we sing, as I try to recall the few Tagalog words I know:

“Because of you” Dahil Sayo

Sa buhay ko’y labis ang hirap at pasakit
My life has been full of hardship and suffering
Dahil sa iyo, nais kong mabuhay
Because of you, I want to live

Tanging ikaw sinta ang aking pag-asa
You alone, my love, are my hope

Ako’y lumigaya
I became happy

Ang lahat ng ito’y dahil sa iyo
All this is because of you.

 

You gaze up at me

The way you once gazed down at me when you held in your arms

I was so dependent on you for life, for love, for nourishment

Now the opposite is true

You depend on me for it all.

The burden breaks my heart.

 

I grasp her hand before I say goodbye.

You say, “Hello, Vina.”

“What’s my last name?” I ask her.

“Beautiful,” she says.

 

Only a mom sees me as I hope to be seen

Only a mom sees me like that, only a mom sees the past, all of me, as I was a child.

I hope each one of us knows this kind of love

Where all is seen from the heart

From the true beginnings

To who you really are.

There are mountains between us.

A valley of the shadow of death: Alzheimer’s.  But it does not separate the love she has for me, or mine for her.

 

I pray as a mom on this Mother’s Day, I see my children in the way she sees me:

 

Do I see you child

For who you really are

Past my expectations.

Past my measures of  your worth

Or mine as a parent.

 

Do I really see you child

Your heart, who you were made to be

Not who this world says you are

But who you truly are

A voice

A song

A star shining in the universe, holding out the word of life

A star that shines, a light to others.

 

Mom, that is who you have been to me.

Let me be that kind of mother to my children

one who lets go, who lets them be who they truly are.

Who they were created to be.

Let them be a voice, a song of all that is beautiful in this world.

Because of love.

Because of you.

 

 

to Lola, for Daniel, Andrew, Michael and Lauren.  Mahal Kita.

December 7. Pearl Harbor Day.

 

 

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On this day, 77 years ago, the day that would live infamy, bombs stormed over Pearl Harbor.

Several hours later, Japanese forces attacked the Philippine Islands.

My Father was a Philippine Scout being trained under the command of the United States Army at Fort Stotsenberg the day that Japanese fighters appeared in the sky, firing over troops that had only few hours earlier received word about the attack on Pearl Harbor.

“The bombing and raiding of Fort Stotsenburg and Clark Field within hours of the raid on Pearl Harbor went virtually unnoticed by the average person in the United States. The attack occured at little after noon, while all our planes—the bombers and P-40s—were lined up in a row on Clark Field.  Finally after what seemed like hours of bombing and strafing, everything became quiet, except for the cries and screams of the wounded lying intermingled with the dead all over the field.  The history books associate Pearl Harbor withe “the day of infamy,” but for those of us in the Philippines it was our day of infamy also.”              Lester I. Tenney, My Hitch in Hell, pg 21

I visited Pearl Harbor last month, gaining a greater appreciation why, growing up, my father would announce on this day, “Today is December 7. Pearl Harbor Day.”

Scratching the surface these past months of my father’s written records of the military service he never verbalized, I understand now why he was quiet.  Why he was silent. What visages must have remained in his dreams and memories that haunted him.

How much in meant, in December 1946, one year after World War II was over, that my father was granted citizenship to the United States of America for his service during the war and for surviving and escaping the brutalities of the Bataan Death March.

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It is because of his sacrifice that his name lives on, BERMUDEZ, here in the United States of America, even through three grandnephews who carry on his service today as officers in the United States Army and the United States Air Force.  To you, Julian Bermudez, Michael Ishida, and Chris Ishida, I commend you for carrying the service that my father began.  He would be so proud to see you commissioned as officers in the United States Armed Forces.

It is because of his sacrifice that our family and extended family live here today, educated in major universities, bearing the college degree that he never received but always dreamed of for ourselves and our children.

Yesterday his youngest grandson stood along the train tracks in College Station, Texas, to witness the train of the 41st President of the United States, George H. W. Bush, roll past, carrying his casket on its way to his final resting place at the George Bush Library on the campus of Texas A&M.

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President Bush’s service as a naval pilot in the Pacific, and my father’s service as an artillery man on the front lines of Bataan made them both part of the Greatest generation.

Next week my father’s youngest grandson will graduate from Texas A&M University, awaiting admittance into medical school. 

After his graduation ceremony our family will pay tribute on the library grounds to the 41st President of the United States.

But my son’s graduation from college will be a tribute to the sacrifice and dreams of his grandfather.

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SGT Jesus C. Bermudez received the Gold Congressional Medal of Honor for his service during World War II on April 15, 2018

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A tribute to my father……

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I am grateful to share my father’s and my family’s story as a guest blogger on granndparentslink.com

I am even more grateful for the legacy my parents have left to our family and our children.

Please join the link https://www.grandparentslink.com/experts-corner/a-fathers-day-tribute/