The past had never felt so far and out of reach. Nowadays, with the COVID19-induced social distancing measures, our concept of yesterdays has indeed changed. Now, one cannot just say ‘last weekend’ without hinting that it could never be comparable with the old-er other weekends before the lockdown. Because of the new standards imposed by COVID-19 and the quarantine, it had seemed like a large hedge had suddenly been created between our distant and our recent pasts.
My fond memories of Sunday visits to my father in our family compound is one example. Before the country-wide medical emergency that brought about the quarantine, each Sunday, after hearing church services, was the time for us three to proceed to Bajada and see him. It had also been the same for other members of the clan, with each family clocking in at lunchtime or after to spend an afternoon with the old man at our old haunt.
The main house, which by now, some readers may have come to know as our mothership, had practically been where a majority of us and pop’s grandchildren grew up in. It had likewise been called a ‘happy’ place by my late mom as she once marvelled at the non-stop presence of babies there, most especially during Sundays. In the Sundays before COVID-19, that is.
Presently, with a city quarantine in effect, I gathered from online posts by kin that the only Sunday visitors that have come to see my father at the family compound in the past four months have been those relatives who lived nearby. As we reside on the direct opposite part of the city, it has become almost impossible for us to come. As such, all of our Sundays have completely been spent at home, with only occasional street chats with neighbors close by.
During those pre-covid Sundays, I remember my father always reminding us how happy he was whenever we came to spend our afternoons there. He would always joke that for a while, it would be bedlam, with children running around. Then, as suddenly as we had come, total silence would fill the big house once again, when we all headed home. That silence would persist until the next Sunday, with the next visit.
My father, now 91 years of age, spends most of the afternoons sitting in his wheelchair near the compound gates. As the quarantine had all but totally deprived him of our Sunday visitations, he has contented himself to merely watching cars enter and leave the subdivision. An occasional hello from religious nuns who live nearby and other passing neighbors makes up his quiet afternoon.
Like him, we miss all those many Sundays of the old, pre-pandemic past. Those magical weekends when a lazy afternoon can suddenly turn and become alive but not crazy, in a split second. Those special moments when his face would slowly light up at the sight of familiar vehicles slowing down to park nearby, with a glimpse of disembarking grandchildren.
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