~ My daughter Evelyn bequeathed her brain to medical science to help demystify brain cancer that had afflicted her and led to her death o n Christmas Day in London, England. That’s her legacy for mankind. On a more personal note, she had not forgotten what I most treasured – books. So she left me two hardbound novels by Philippine national hero Jose Rizal – Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo. And in support of my work, she bought a brand-new laptop computer before she departed.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
“The souls of men are not measured by what they have done, but by what they leave behind.” ― Anonymous
LONDON – I didn’t quite realize the impact earlier but now that my daughter Evelyn is gone, I am astonished at what she did when she was fully in control of her functions.
Her condition was fast deteriorating when I visited her in October, just fresh from being transferred from London Bridge Hospital where she had been admitted, released and readmitted again – an indication no less of the ebb and flow of her health.
Christmas Day was her day of reckoning decided by doctors. She had managed to wake up to that day from a little celebration of “noche buena”
and stayed a full nine hours before she bade goodbye. Her brain cancer had triumphed. (Video at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eVBXvLC6Xno
One October morning, she signed documents bequeathing her brain to a topnotch medical school here for scientific study. It was going to be her contribution towards solving the mysteries of brain cancer, the ailment that had creeped in from nowhere in 2015 and devastated her until she passed away on December 25th.
This gesture had somewhat softened her demise, for me as a father. But of course, the impact would be much different and painful for her family, specially for her two young daughters aged 10 and 7.
When they would come to understand, I would tell them that their mother did not die in vain even as she had failed to conquer her illness. Nobody has vanquished cancer as yet, not even modern science.
And in the pursuit of the objective of licking it forever, their mother had made a gracious gift of the most critical organ of the body – the brain – to science.
In life it’s her brain that had made a big difference, in the university, in her chosen career in economics and finance, in the way she had treated people. Now, in death, I’m hoping it’s again her brain that would help science in uncovering the secrets of cancer.
Though I am saddened by her departure, Evelyn made me a proud parent. My family’s loss is hopefully mankind’s gain.
Two hardbound books, Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo by Jose Rizal, are among the prized possessions left specifically for me by my second-born daughter Evelyn.
I had read the books twice; the first when they were required reading in high school, and the second as reference to aid in my understanding of social issues affecting present-day Filipinos, be they in the United States, in Canada or in some countries in Europe.
The gift comes with a brand-new laptop computer, a totally unexpected present she had rushed to buy in Toronto through a relative coming over to visit her while she was under palliative care. She had been moved from London Bridge Hospital after doctors determined only a miracle could save her from brain cancer.
Once before dawn, Evelyn heard me murmuring about the difficulty of uploading pictures and videos from my cameras to my old Toshiba laptop, which, by today’s standards, is already ancient even as it continues to be my workhorse whenever I travel.
It was a laborious, frustrating process. I had to delete files from at least seven years ago to free space that I can use for my new videos. “Pa, you better buy a new computer,” she said, sounding more of a command than a comment.
At that time, Evelyn was already nearing the critical moment. Sometimes she was slurring her words but there was no doubt she was lucid. Her motors had been slowly being affected by the cancer, first diagnosed in the cerebrum, then spread to the cerebellum.
While still confined at the hospital and knowing recovery was impossible, she told her husband what to do with her body. She wanted to be cremated and the ashes interred in a burial park she chose in Epping Forest just outside of London. However, it’s her seven-year-old daughter Isabelle who picked the spot under an oak tree.
The tranquility of the site was what attracted Evelyn to the area. She had seen the pictures in a brochure and wanted to visit the place in late fall, by which time she was already in a precipitous decline (Video at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=912Os9iLM9E
Anyway, our exchange that early morning resulted in the purchase of new laptop a few days later. Suddenly the old Toshiba became decrepit, slow, lacking the latest apps and upgrades. So, my inheritance increased, from two books to the addition of the computer.
I told close friends about my inheritance and a media colleague, Mogi Mogado, viewed it in such a perspective a father like him can feel. He wrote in an email:
“This is affirmation of how much she appreciates what you do, for the good of the community, for the Filipino nation. The Noli-Fili (books) is affirmation that the ideals you are fighting for, the traditional values that we hold sacred as a people is in the right direction. I can see that in many ways you are the big influence in her life, she was very proud of her dad, Romy!”
As soon as I read Mogi’s notes, I began to tear up.
Teresa Torralba’s short missive made it more sentimental. ” Such an endearing inheritance!” she wrote. “Hanggang sa kamatayan eh talagang intellectual pa rin ang anak mo. “
Teresa’s right. Since a kid, Evelyn had immersed herself in reading, a habit she had acquired from me. A new generation looks like it’s going to stay in the family. Indeed, the two daughters she had left behind are not easily moved until they finish the book they’re reading.
Chip off the old block? You bet they are!