We do what’s important to us. And for Maria del Rosario Chan that meant giving her great uncle what he wanted and need most as his health was failing.
I gave him something he didn’t have much left of, and that was time.
Every day, I called him around 5 pm. Any later, he might be asleep. He would have good days and bad days. On his good days, I might be able to sound out the words he was murmuring. But on his bad days, he couldn’t even respond. All he could do was listen. The one-sided conversations with their long silence made me uncomfortable. I would just wait for his next utterance and think of something next to say.
Kao gong, my 78-year-old great uncle, lived in a nursing home in Las Vegas. I used to see him every day growing up. He drove me everywhere and did every kind of errand to make my life better. Whatever I wanted or needed, he gave me. I had to be careful not to mention if I liked something, because the next thing you know, there it was; not just one, but a hundred of them.
Eventually, the acts of generosity stopped when Kao gong moved to Las Vegas. I missed him terribly and would only call occasionally. But as his condition worsened, the phone calls became more frequent and my nightly prayers got longer. Regardless of what I was doing, I dropped everything and called him. My great aunt would tell me if I made him smile, and if he ate well or looked alert. I prayed for good days like that.