Coming Full Circle: A Love Story*

*Eulogy I delivered at my father’s memorial mass and inurnment earlier today

Mommy’s hands on Daddy’s ashes as they came out of the crematorium

Today we celebrate a life well lived.

We mourn the passing of a loved one.

We pray for the repose of the soul of Pete Castillo

Thank you for being with us on Daddy’s final journey, a journey from the darkness of the last 18 months into the light

If there is one thing Daddy hated about eulogies, was that all the nice things about the person are said after they die, instead of being said while they were still alive. So I will follow in his footsteps, and tell you a love story instead.

Once upon a time, a young man entered San Juan de Dios Hospital here in Pasay City as a patient, where he met a pretty young junior nurse whom he courted. That was not the nurse he ended up marrying though, and it was the senior student nurse who became his friend and confidant.

Pete, a young and diligent Mechanical Engineering of De La Salle University, as La Sallites tend to be, would save his weekly transportation allowance from Monday to Friday and walk to La Salle to save enough money for the weekend date with his sweetheart.

Dates for Pete and Linda consisted on a ride on the double-decker Motorco bus along Roxas Boulevard, starting from Quirino Grandstand and ended in Baclaran Church. A prayer together, a lesson on how to use the slide ruler, and then a meal at Max’s Restaurant were the main elements of the date. A variation thereof was a 3-in-1 movie marathon with a stroll along the boulevard and buying barbecue sticks. They chose to formalize these barbecue and fried chicken dates and got married on September 17, 1966, exactly 50 years ago last week, and I joined the circle a year later.

Daddy was never the overtly demonstrative person. Over the years, anniversary gifts consisted of flowers picked from Mommy’s garden, for which she scolded him, or a meal outside. He was frugal on his “I love you’s”, believing more in showing his love rather than than saying it.

Last week we celebrated their Golden Wedding Anniversary in a very quiet and private manner. He could no longer speak or eat like they did in 1966. But we filled the house with orchids, Daddy’s favourite flowers, and managed to retrace their bus route. They held hands last week all throughout the little mass we had at home and lit the unity candle together. That unity candle is here with us today. Daddy’s gift to mommy for their golden wedding anniversary was again something that could not be bought in any store, priceless in nature and indestructible. He gave her the gift of presence as they came full circle of 50 years together. He held on to her in his darkness during the last 18 months of being unable to speak, walk or eat, all of which he enjoyed doing. But he still expressed his love in deed through hand squeezes, till the very end.

There was no party last week, but are more than making up for it today. You have all been to their home at one point or another over the years, and will remember the large acacia center table that was given to mommy and daddy as a wedding present. That table traveled around the world with us, and then with my own family when it was passed on to me. Last August 26, the table came full circle and returned to the original owners to give its testimony of 50 years and be the altar on which the mass was said. That was Daddy’s last mass that closed the golden circle.

We could not eat at their beloved Max on their anniversary, but this last Friday afternoon, as mommy and I accompanied him to the crematorium, we got stranded in Sucat traffic and ended up in Max Sucat. It was the missing piece of the anniversary celebration that Daddy somehow still managed to give Mommy, and I even found the menu with the 1960 prices. Imagine, PHP 5.00 for a whole chicken and PHP 1 for a halo-halo!

She was the senior nurse on duty when he came into her life, and she was still the senior nurse on duty when he exhaled his last breath. She came full circle for and with him.

They prayed the rosary during their Roxas Boulevard dates, and they prayed together until the final moments before he slipped into unconsciousness. Faith kept them in the circle for 50 years.

The love story that began in Pasay City, comes full circle in Pasay today, be it kismet or the Lord’s will.

Daddy would not have wanted us to grieve his departure, but will be smiling down on us for celebrating his coming full circle.

Ashes to ashes.

Full Circle

The Inner History of a Day 

No one knew the name of this day;

Born quietly from deepest night,

It hid its face in light,

Demanded nothing for itself,

Opened out to offer each of us

A field of brightness that travelled ahead,

Providing in time, ground to hold our footsteps

And the light of thought to show the way.

The mind of the day draws no attention;

It dwells within the silence with elegance

To create a space for all our worlds,

Drawing us to listen inwards and outwards.

We seldom notice how each day is a holy place

Where the eucharist of the ordinary happens,

Transforming our broken fragments

Into an eternal continuity that keeps us.

Somewhere in us a dignity presides

That is more gracious than the smallness

That fuels us with fear and force,

A dignity that trusts the form a day takes.

So at the end of this day, we give thanks

For being betrothed to the unknown

And for the secret work

Through which the mind of the day

And wisdom of the soul become one.

John O’Donohue


*** In Memoriam: Pedro A. Castillo (February 23, 1937 – September 22, 2016)

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