I woke up at 3:30AM in the morning. My body clock is to sleep for seven hours. If I slept less than that, my social skill is enough only for probably five conversations, one meeting for an hour, and I am done for the day. I tried to sleep but it eluded me. With all force and weight of my body that I could muster, I dragged myself out of bed, looked at my beautiful wife sleeping quietly, and went to the living room.
“God, what could be your reason for waking me up too early?”, I asked Him.
I got no reply. I only heard familiar silence of the night. I decided to check facebook messenger because maybe there is an important message that I need to attend to but there was none. Without nothing much to do than wait for the roosters to crow, I opened my Bible and started my daily devotion. Read two chapters, and wrote God’s word that I could hold on for the day.
4:30AM and sleep already escaped from me. I decided to run for an hour. The wedding ring is almost choking my finger so I knew I needed to run. Ran. I felt good after it.
Tracking my way back home, my head was busy scanning through different food choices to buy for breakfast. Until I saw the sign: Room For Rent. My friends who are getting married this year are looking for a place to stay so I checked it.
I saw an old lady outside the place. She was strutting the broom with a dust pan. I approached her and asked if she knew who I can talk to for the room. She looked at me suspiciously as if she was profiling me. I was full of sweat, early in the morning with lack of sleep so I thought she would probably dismiss me.
She did not.
She asked me a lot of questions. She was like an investigative journalist or an intelligence officer. I already thought of ending our conversation kindly. But she offered me to come in and check the place. I passed her initial tests.
She finally asked my name. She struggled with Junver like some other people do. I asked her to call me Jun.
As she was ushering me to the unit, she told me that her name is Susan. She gazed at me intently when I called her ‘Nanay Susan’. Then, she smiled.
She told me about all her sons and a daughter. She did not put a name on them but she described them vividly in different adjectives. She remembers all of them.
When we were inside the unit, she shifted her stories to how she would love to renovate the room. And she can only do that if the new tenant pays in advance. I scanned the room. It is well lighted. The 2 bedrooms had no trace of a previous tenant.
There is a wooden bed in the living room. I asked what she would do to it. She said she will give it to the tambays if the new tenant comes in and would not like it.
I asked her how much is the rent. She did not answer. Instead, she asked me to sit down in the wooden bed.
She sat also. She started talking about herself. She is 83 years old. She is a single mother. She did all that she can so that her kids will graduate from the best schools in the country. Through her hard work, they all did.
The Man Who Lived Up To His Name
Nanay Susan told me that she worked as a clerk at the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) for 6 years and then 28 years in Makati. She was so proud of the thirty-four years of service that she did.
She told me about her birthday. She grinned at telling me how much she loves mango. She told me a lot of things.
Then she talked again about her work at AFP. As a proof that she worked at AFP, she said she knew a man named General Isleta. And that his middle initial is ‘M’.
I asked if Gen. Isleta was his boss. She said, “No. I know him because he is a nice guy. Everybody respects him. When he saw me one time, he shouted at my name. I was so glad he remembered me. He is a man of integrity. I never heard any chismis about him.”
There was a struggle in my heart at this point. I also know Gen. Isleta. I had no chance of meeting him personally but I visited him at his wake. There was no doubt Nanay Susan was talking about him because of the stories I heard also about Gen. Isleta.
I was unsure if it would be okay to tell Nanay Susan that Gen. Isleta went home with the Father already.
I told her instead that I know Gen. Isleta. That I know his son and daughter. I opened facebook and showed to him the picture of Pastor Dennis with the General. She smiled and said, “Yes! That is him. So that is his son!”
I was ready to go but I saw the gravestone of Gen. Isleta in one of the pictures confirming the middle initial ‘M’.
“Nay, there is something that I will show you. You must be ready for it.”, I told her.
She saw the picture. Examined it carefully. She asked if I could make it bigger. I did. She read slowly the name written in the gravestone.
“Honesto. M. Isleta. See! I really know him. His middle initial is M.”
“Honesto.”, she repeated.
“He died but I will not forget him. He really lived up to his name. I could not even remember the name of my boss but I remember his name and how he made me feel when he called my name.” She smiled again.
We stood up. She told me again about her family. She told me some stories about the occupants from the other rooms.
“I need to go, Nay. I need to prepare breakfast.”, she nodded. She ushered me at the gate.
“I pass by here every day, Nay, going to the office. I will greet you later if you are here outside.”, I gladly told her.
“Be sure to that. I am always here outside.”, Nanay Susan replied.
I went home without looking back. I wonder if she is still there outside the gate looking at me. I went home smiling.
I shared it to my wife. Told her about what happened and how Nanay Susan gave me a life lesson:
People will remember you – your name and how you made them feel. All your choices now will matter on how you want to be remembered.
It was a lovely, heartwarming morning breakfast. I did not feel tired from the run nor from the lack of sleep.
As I was walking to the side of the street going to the office, I saw a familiar lady outside the gate. Nanay Susan was strutting the broom with a dust pan. She was looking in the same direction as me as I was approaching her.
I said, “Good morning, Nanay Susan!” I smiled at her.
She looked at me. She stared blankly. She said nothing. I went past her and there was not a hint of our conversation early that morning.
Two days later, my wife and I were walking in the same street. Nanay Susan was there. Smiled at her. Nothing.
But she remembered, Honesto.
Gen. Honesto M. Isleta lived up to his name.
WRITTEN BY: JUNVER ARCAYNA