I am with you always until the end of this world - Jesus (Matthew 28:20).

Preach the Word in season and out of season reproving, rebuking or advising always with patience and providing instructions (2 Timothy 4:2).

Do not fear, Mary, for God has looked kindly on you (Luke 1:30).

Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly. - G. K. Chesterton

Monday, November 12, 2007

My narrative on the last two days of my Aunt: Gilda D. Altamia (Feb 1, 1934-Nov. 9, 2007)

(Mila, Cynthia Villar, Gem & Eden)

Last Friday (Nov. 9) Auntie Gilda succumbed to her lingering ailment, she triumphantly defeated her oppressive sickness. I was there and I saw her slow yet painful last two days here in this material world that we presently belong.

It was last Thursday (November 8) when I first saw her in the Hospital. Her two sisters ( Mila and Eden) were watching over her. I was with my siblings (Grace, Jun-jun, Darwin, and Nino) Upon seeing her I knew that it’s just a matter of time before she departs to the great beyond, she was very thin and her breathing was very deep, her eyes were barely opened. There were three nurses with her they were frantically trying to find a vein where they can insert a needle to facilitate the passage of medicines to her body. They tried it on her hands, they tried it on her feet to no avail. We therefore asked: “What’s the problem?” they told us that they can’t locate a vein. They went out for about thirty minutes then they were at it again trying to locate a vein, they were successful this time.

Afterwards, I said, "Hi auntie" while slowly massaging her forehead, it was a very painful sight to see for a woman who was always full of life. To keep the mood light I said to her, “You’ll get well.” And she slowly nodded as if saying yes I will get well.

Every now and then she would be restless she would move side to side then she would slowly motion that she wants to be seated. So we lift her up after that she would lie-down again. It was her routine for the day. ...
Sensing that she might go anytime we called  a priest again to give her the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick. After a few hours a priest who was her personal friend arrived and she was given the Sacrament.

Later in the afternoon her doctor told us that she was slowly being poisoned by her blood and it results in her constant unguarded movements. After the doctor left she motioned again to be seated. This time it was auntie Mila who lovingly helped her to be seated and while seated Mila embraced her while saying: “We love you, do you love us?” And she would groan as if saying: Yes I also love you all. I lost count of that beautiful and touching exchange of loving words and groans. I was looking at them and I saw a very moving sight of Agape Love.

Around 7:00 pm her doctors came again and frankly told us that  she needed to be put on a breathing machine (ventilator) or she would probably die anytime. We huddled for a brief moment and said, do whatever it takes to extend her life. After a while the machine was brought in and we were politely told to go out of the room first so that they can do the procedure.

After about 30 minutes we were told that the ventilator had already been attached and we can go inside now. So we went inside and saw her with all these tubes attached to her, this time she was already unresponsive to our whispers to our urgings: I think she was already in a comatose state at that time. 
(Tata Orcine, Cheng, Elsa, & Eden)
Afterwards auntie Gilda’s grandchildren and daughter in-law came also. Then after a few minutes her daughter (Gemma) arrived from Singapore. Here, I again saw a moving and heart-rending sight. Gemma was deeply crying while lovingly caressing her Mama and saying. “Mama you told me we would still talk. You told me that you would wait for me.” While motionless I suddenly saw tears flowing out of my aunt’s eyes as if telling her that she’s hearing her cries and pleas. Then she started to very slowly move her hands towards her mouth as if trying to remove the ventilator so that she can talk. We moderately blocked her hand and whispered to her not to remove the tube. After a while her son (Boyet) called and the cell phone was put onto her ear and I think she was hearing him because tears started to slowly flow from her eyes again.
Around 12:30 am we went home…

The next day we were there again we arrived around 5:30 pm and it was the last one and a half hours that I would be seeing her breathing. After staying out of the room for about 15 minutes. I went inside and also quickly went outside to call our relatives then we closed the door and I know with the urgings of the Holy Spirit I said, “Let us all stand and Pray.” We made the sign of the cross and we Prayed the Our Father (the Prayer that Jesus told us to Pray, Matthew 6:9-15) with three Hail Mary and One Glory be then I followed it up with a spontaneous prayer lifting, commending and entrusting her to God while my relatives were saying Yes Lord and Amen. After the Prayers were said I tenderly caressed her forehead while softly saying: Go towards the light, follow Jesus, follow the Holy Spirit, and follow God. Let go now, I repeated this words a couple of times.

(Cynthia Villar, Mila & Elsa)

After which I went out of the room while my relatives were praying the Rosary. When they were through I went inside again with a Prayer booklet (that I got from the lobby where the image of Mama Mary was located, I Prayed to Mama Mary to take care of my Aunt’s journey towards heaven) then we made the sign of the Cross and I read the Prayers and the litanies. My Aunt was still breathing it was soft and very slow and the line on the screen that monitors her heartbeat was near flat already.
I went out of the room again and subsequently went inside again and it happened, I saw her last grasp for breath the line on the indicator was already flat. I softly touched her still warm body while saying my silent prayer for her and I closed her eyes, kissed her on the forehead and I slowly walked towards the door: my eyes welling up with tears. …

Death is always a good wake-up call for all of us who are still in this temporary journey. It is a reminder that we will pass this process too. There’s no exception: rich or poor, learned or not.

To me, life is as simple as the rising and setting of the Sun, in the morning we slowly see the Sun beautifully rising and late in the afternoon we see it magnificently setting as well. It's like a song also it has its beginning and eventual ending, it’s like the rain it pours and after a while its pouring ends.

(Nino, Mila, Boyet & Cynthia Villar)
That’s our life too; we have our beginning and eventual ending. What is important while we are still actively here in this journey is we know who Jesus is, we have an intimate relationship with HIM.

We can always get intimate with Jesus through the Holy Mass. In the Mass the words of God are read in the Liturgy of the Word and Jesus is made present in the Liturgy of the Eucharist. Upon consecration of the Priest who acts in Persona Christi, (in the Person of Christ) the ordinary bread and wine become the Body and blood of Christ. In the Mass the scene in the Last Supper is repeated again, when on the night before his crucifixion, Jesus instituted the Eucharist and that is the first Mass.

It is also important that we read the Bible specially the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John because in those Gospels we will get to have and intimate and personal knowledge of who really is Jesus.

If we know Jesus we need not fear death because death is the final hurdle to be in heaven with the Angels, with the Saints and with Mama Mary.

And finally to be in the permanent company with our Triune God.

Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord and let perpetual light shine upon her. May she rest in peace.  Amen.

Farewell to you my Dear auntie...


Anonymous said...

Hi Bong,

This is so touching. You've written the events so beautifully. I felt as if it was just happening, it brought tears to my eyes and how I wish we could still hug and kiss Auntie Gilda. Oh how I miss her so...

I wanted to share this poem, I received thru email from a friend, at her Necrological Mass but I can't trust myself to finish it long before I become hysteric. So please just read on and remember our beloved Auntie Gilda (a.k.a.Bukaw):


If I knew it would be the last time, That I'd see you fall asleep,
I would tuck you in more tightly and pray the Lord, your soul to keep.

If I knew it would be the last time that I see you walk out the door, I would give you a hug and kiss and call you back for one more

If I knew it would be the last time I'd hear your voice lifted up in praise, I would video tape each action and word, so I could play them back day after day.

If I knew it would be the last time, I could spare an extra minute
to stop and say "I love you," instead of assuming you would KNOW I do.

If I knew it would be the last time I would be there to share your day, Well I'm sure you'll have so many more, so I can let just this one slip away.

For surely there's always tomorrow to make up for an oversight,
and we always get a second chance to make everything just right.

There will always be another day to say "I love you,"
And certainly there's another chance to say our "Anything I can do?"

But just in case I might be wrong, and today is all I get,
I'd like to say how much I love you and I hope we never forget.

Tomorrow is not promised to anyone, young or old alike,
And today may be the last chance you get to hold your loved one tight.

So if you're waiting for tomorrow, why not do it today?
For if tomorrow never comes, you'll surely regret the day,

That you didn't take that extra time for a smile, a hug, or a kiss
and you were too busy to grant someone, what turned out to be their one last wish.

So hold your loved ones close today, and whisper in their ear,
Tell them how much you love them and that you'll always hold them dear

Take time to say “I love you”, "I'm sorry," "Thank you" or “It’s ok”. And if tomorrow never comes, you'll have no regrets about today.

Let there be memories of our Auntie Gilda....

Thank you Bong and God bless.

Be well,

Ate Belle

Anonymous said...

Thanks Kuya Bong for sharing.

Call me a coward but I somewhat purposely did not visit her in the hospital in her last days because I want to remember her not with a sick body but a person full of life and jest.

To add to that, I cannot bear to see a person in pain and suffering much more knowing that she will die anytime. This is what I pray always. That the Lord and Mama Mary keep me strong when death in the family comes along. I wish he'd take away that fear from me. That when that time comes, I can happily move on from a loss and accept that he/she is in a better state and forever will be happy.

Auntie Gilda will always be remembered. She touched all our lives. She taught us a lot of things. I'm sure she is at peace now, together with her parents and siblings. Let us just pray that they will all guide us in our stay here on earth and when our time comes, they will all welcome us and lead us to the light where they are now.

Hay Kuya Bong, ang aga aga pinaiyak mo ko. Namamaga ang mata ko, dami ko pa naman meeting. Hehe.

Keep on writing! Have a nice week.


Anonymous said...

hi bong,

i cried a river while reading your narrative on ate gilda. the whole scenario at the hospital kept coming back... on how i struggled to put a brave front, but deep inside i was grieving because at that precise moment i could smell death... on how i wish i had the power to cure her... on how i wish that i was the one lying on that bed not her ... and on how i wish i was the one in pain hot her ... i want her to live longer to continue her advocacy ... but God has other plans for her ... sabi ni Lord " i need you up here... i will create a barangay where you will be the kapitana forever... there will be no intrigues ... no politics ... because only peace and harmony shall reign..."

ate gilda was a very gem. she may have some shortcomings in life, but it was compensated by the many good things she has done to us, her siblings, her friends, and the public she loved to serve.

i will miss her calls just to inform me who's who in limelight right now and some little tidbits.. i will miss my daily routine on checking on her upon arriving home from work... her "lambings" to buy her favorite foods when ate eden and me does our marketing ... her calls to buy her "lugaw", cooking oil, her favorite ensure ... sometimes her medicines .... and even her favorite yes magazine... most especially, i will miss our saturday masses together.

yes, ate gilda is gone, but her memory will live on. let us make her birth and journey to eternal life lighter by constantly remembering her in our prayers.

sabi nga ni tio jun, "a mere toiler dies ... a dreamer lives on ... so does gilda..."

God bless us all.

keep in touch,
auntie mila

Deacon Timothy McAuliffe said...

Beautiful tribute to your aunt, your family, your faith, and yourself.
Thank you for sending.

You asked for comments on what you said in terms of accuracy.

The Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick is not THE sacrament of the dying.
The Sacrament for the Anointing of the Sick is for the ill; physically & mentally; and for those facing operations, for a person of advanced age where time ( maybe a year or so ) has gone by since the last time they had the opportunity to receive the grace ( and efficacy ) of this sacrament. And those in danger of death.
Remember Marino I'm being technical here.............................
The Sacrament of the dying is Viaticum ( way-you-with ) or food for you on the way, on the journey.
As an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion you can be deputed, authorized to bring viaticum to the dying and some places there's only need to coordinate with the pastor or the place. Also, it's to do with the primary responsibility of a pastor is to make sure people have opportunity to participate in the Eucharist and receive Holy Communion and to safeguard the Blessed Sacrament.

Keep up the Good Work of our Lord and His Blessed Mother brother.

Sometimes it's just in the way we say things.

Anonymous said...


What a lovely remembrance and prayerful reflection. God bless you and your family and give you comfort and peace.

Shannon J.

Anonymous said...

I am sorry for your loss and I am praying for your family and your aunt as well.

Anonymous said...

My condolences. I hope you and your family are coping well.

Death is a new beginning. Our Lord God wil take good care of your Aunt Gilda.


Gemma A. Martinez said...

hi bong, all i can say right now is thank u so much for everything. please tell everybody also in behalf of kuya boyet we'd like to thank u all. i'm so glad i have u guys as my family. i couldn't stop crying long after i finished reading ur narrative on mama.gusto ko sanang ulitin again kya lang prang di ko na kya for now. pag kya ko na i'l write a longer reflection on it. i love u all and thank u so much again. pls. take care of yourself always.