I followed the two hospital attendants as they pushed my Dad’s bed down the hallway to the scanning room. Members of our family couldn’t take him to the doctor as we didn’t have money and he didn’t want us to take him there. I am a missionary of Youth With A Mission (YWAM) --- an international and interdenominational Christian organization. All staff are responsible to raise their own financial support. I didn’t have enough support so I couldn’t afford my Dad’s medication.
One inevitable day, we had to rush him to the hospital.
While waiting for the radiographer prepare the machine, I glanced at my Dad and said, “Don’t worry Dad. You’ll be fine. God is with us.” He looked at me and moaned. His stomach was killing him. I held his hand.
The radiographer applied a clear gel on the skin of Dad’s stomach and then began to move the microphone back and forth over it. I looked at the machine screen. It seemed like I was watching an aerial view of a village full of black huts. I didn’t like what I saw --- A lot of lumps had already mushroomed inside his stomach walls. I felt terrible.
“We have to confine your Dad and see,” the doctor said.
Dad’s condition was worsening. He couldn’t cough up his phlegm so the doctors had to vacuum it out his throat. My heart broke every time he moaned.
After two weeks, the doctor ushered me and my Mom out of the charity ward to the side of the hallway. She held my Mom’s hand and then broke the news, “I’m so sorry to say that your husband has a terminal colon cancer.” With much compassion in her voice, she added, “...and he has few more weeks to live. It would be better for you to take him home. Give him all the care that he needs. Most dying patients want to die at home with their loved ones around.”
My Mom took every word in her heart, bit her lips and gave a forced smile to the doctor and said, “Thank you Doc for doing your best. God bless you.” I thanked the doctor and shook her hand. She nodded and left to attend to her other patients. As she vanished into one of the doors, I hugged my Mom tightly. She sobbed on my chest. My throat ached holding back my tears.
Mom and I took turns feeding him, bathing him, changing his diapers, and reading to him Bible stories. My quadriplegic elder sister couldn’t do anything but to pray for us.
Wednesday morning in January 1998, I told Dad, “I am going to Manila for our staff meeting to make a one-year plan for our ministry. I’ll be back on Friday. Be strong. I love you, Dad.”
He moaned and said, “I love you, too Domie.”
The meeting was hectic and I was dead tired. Winding up and sipping a hot brewed coffee, I got a call from my sister at 6PM. “Hi, Domie! I knew you were busy taking minutes of your meeting the whole day so I didn’t call you earlier and...” she hesitated.
My heart began to beat faster. “And...?” I asked nervously.
“Dad....has...gone with the Lord.” she said and then burst into tears. My heart sank and we both cried on the phone.
My Dad died of colon cancer. He was only sixty nine. I am proud of him as he was one of the Filipino soldiers who had fought the Korean War in 1950. He spent his post-retirement-pension-less life in his hometown, farming. After the funeral, I was cleaning his wardrobe and sorting out his clothes to put them in a suitcase later when I noticed three familiar things. One was a pair of army pants which I had given him for Christmas two years ago. He eagerly asked for them. The other two were handkerchiefs for his birthday many years ago. All had not been used. “Why didn’t he use them at least once?” I didn’t have any answers. I was hurt.
One day, in my prayer time, I asked God about the untouched gifts. In my spirit, I felt the Lord told me, “My son, your Dad didn’t want to spoil them because they are precious. It was his joy to keep them. You didn’t know how many times he had looked at them, touched them and thanked Me for giving him a loving son like you.”