Mother Mary Comes To Me
I held his right arm and pressed many times and said, "Santi, this is Uncle Frank." And his immediate answer was, "How did you know?" And I immediately thought he must be all right because his mind is lucid and he speaks as if this is not a medical emergency!
How did I know about his medical condition when I lived with my family 200 km away from Asingan, my hometown? A relative, Roger texted me, having been told by his neighbor, my brother Emilio about Santi being brought to the hospital in serious condition. Roger knows I am close to Santi. Roger said they visited that morning and he was in serious condition. Emilio visited Santi the day before we did and he said yesterday when we visited, with Trisha, Santi's daughter, that he looked certainly better than the other day. I took photographs of the monitor on the wall that was showing graphs (here posterized along with Mother Mary of Paul McCartney and brother Michael McCartney, who took the Mary's picture).
That's your clue to my juxtaposed posterized images of modern science and modern service. The Nazareth Hospital monitor at this ICU serves the patient's purposes with a continuous display of vital signs; Mother Mary of Nazareth served her family and specifically her only son, giving birth to him and being behind him through thick and thin, mostly thin. "He suffered under Pontius Pilate" can also be written as "She suffered under Pontius Pilate." Her son died while she was looking but, on the third day, he rose again from the dead.
When we visited Santi, we persuaded my brother Emilio to talk to Santi about "in case" – my brother, now almost 80, used to work in a hospital in Toronto, Canada and he certainly knows about dying (his own wife Manang Maring Daranciang, cousin of Roger, died a slow death from lung cancer); he also knows about money (he has some, pension from Canada), specifically for Santi to instruct his bank to transfer his time deposit to Emilio's name so that in case of death, heaven forbid, those whom he would leave behind could make good use of what he has saved all these years for his loved ones. I did not go with Emilio. I wasn't looking at the time but I think it took about 30 minutes and, in the end, Emilio could not persuade our nephew Dr Santi to do what was needed to be done, or so he was told. Santi insisted, "Saanak pay nga matay. Mabiagak pay." (I will not die. I will live.)
Now I must tell you the irony of all this. Dr Santi is an atheist; he does not believe in an Almighty Being, in God, while my brother and I do, Roman Catholics as we are. In my own hours of darkness many years ago, years of darkness in fact, I went from a believer to an agnostic, but never an atheist. What's an agnostic? I was telling myself then, "If there is a God, I'm doing good anyway, so I should be all right when I die. If there is no God, I should have no problem. I will continue to do good anyway." It was the community of believers called the Bukás Lóob sa Díyos who saved my sanity, not to mention my marriage and my family.
I can see Lina, Dr Santi's sweetheart and the mother of dear Trisha, 13 years old, not quite worried at all. She is quite hopeful Dr Santi will survive this. She keeps saying, "Mamatiak met ng agbiag pay." (I believe that he will live.) Dr Santi is not going to die.
"Dr Santi is not going to die" is a statement of belief. That is not mine. I do not believe; I just hope. I heard something about a surgery. I was going to convince him out of the world of surgery and into the world of nutrition. I just read about the case of novelist Pat Conroy who had type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, a failing liver, and found himself lying on a hospital bed (Nora Krug, 17 August 2015, washingtonpost.com). A strict diet saved him. Dr Santi knows all about antioxidants.
When I heard Emilio's "report," I told myself that I was going to talk to Dr Santi about money, but in a different way. I was going to tell him about letting go. (If you believe in God, that would be "Letting go and letting God," but we have a different case here.) I was going to tell Dr Santi that his "I will not die" is his firm belief, that it is his way of telling his body to fight the diseases and win. I was thinking of asking him to sign a Living Will, of which I learned from another doctor, my friend Dr Antonio C Oposa, surgeon & human being extraordinaire, which he can change at will (no pun intended). Dr Santi was going to transfer his time deposit to the account of someone he trusts, and that would be all. We are expecting the best but we are getting ready for the worst. But when I googled for "Living Will," I found that it is only designed as a medical directive to forego any "heroic efforts" at resuscitation, and has nothing to do with any bank account, so I changed my mind and instead decided on "Let It Be" as the simple and elegant device of persuading the unpersuaded.
According to the doctors at Nazareth, Dr Santi's medical condition is "complicated" (my word). Interesting, when you think of Nazareth. The Nazareth Hospital in Dagupan City is right beside the river wide enough to enjoy a cruise and preach to the people in the boat if you wanted to. I would if I could. Dr Santi was too sick to know and object that they were bringing him to Nazareth and not some other hospital – they brought him first to the Sacred Heart Hospital in Urdaneta City, 12 km from Asingan, but they had no room for him in the ICU! So Sacred Heart called the other hospitals and learned that Nazareth had exactly one ICU vacant. God loves you, sinner or saint. In the Roman Catholic tradition, the loving heart of Jesus is "the representation of his divine love for humanity" (Wikipedia); it is "the Heart that has so loved men" (Catholic Encyclopedia, newadvent.org), both believers and unbelievers.
It was in Nazareth in Israel where when Mother Mary told Joseph that she was with child and he knew it was not his own, so the man wanted to reject the woman as his bride. Joseph was simply being logical; the intercourse that they have had was only verbal, not sexual. The child must be someone else's who does not want to own up his act. The nerve of Mary! You are being logical when you insist, as does Dr Santi, that God does not exist. A believer cannot prove that God exists.
In the past, my favorite nephew and I have had exchanges of email about the existence of God. He wanted to debate the issue; he wanted to persuade me that there is no God. This believer did not want to debate with an unbeliever because he has all the answers, and will not acknowledge any logical fallacy. Finally, I said if he really wanted to debate with me on the existence of God, I would open a yahoogroup and we would debate in the open. He would not consent. That was good, because I really did not want to debate with anyone, and I knew that he would lose – I know all the logical fallacies he would use. (If you don't believe me, ask for a free copy of my ebook on logical fallacies as well as how they apply to reproductive health, The Emperors' New Clothes (213 pages, version 7, July 2014, firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Continuing on the logical fallacy: I said to him once in his clinic at Urdaneta City that for him to say there is no God is his belief, and I do not contest that. For me to say that there is a God is my belief, and he cannot contest that. You cannot argue against a belief, precisely because it is a belief; it cannot be proven or disproven. It is a logical fallacy to say that God does not exist because you cannot prove it. End of argument.
So, yesterday, I wrote and uploaded to my blog the essay "Let It Be – The Beatles," and I printed a copy (4 pages) to give to Dr Santi for him to read. You should read it yourself, but if you haven't at this point, let me tell you that that 2,300-word essay is meant to be a gentle persuasion towards "Letting go and letting God." Dr Santi does not believe in God, so none of those 2,300 words says or hints anything about faith, religion, spirituality, or God. But I was sure he was going to read it because he is a diehard fan of The Beatles; in fact, he has a complete collection of their songs. When I was teaching in Asingan High School, Dr Santi had with his friends a band and he was singing and playing the guitar, The Beatles and all.
When I find myself in times of trouble
Mother Mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be
And in my hour of darkness
She is standing right in front of me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be
Let it be, let it be
Let it be, let it be
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be!
Now I want to tell you that Paul & Mike McCartney's Mother Mary to me looks exactly like the Roman Catholic Mother Mary to me (here is the original image, taken by her own son Mike, printed on the cover of his own album titled Woman – she was a nurse working in a hospital). Do you see how all of this is turning out?
But I'm not finished telling you what I was going to tell Dr Santi. I was going to tell him that when he tells himself, "I will not die. I will live," he is commanding his body to fight the diseases. Plural, because the doctors say he has a damaged heart, his lungs and kidneys are impaired, and he has high blood pressure. I was going to tell him that by commanding his body, he is adding to the stress that his body already is confronting. I was going to tell him, because I too believe in the miraculous ability of the human body to defend itself against internal aggression, "Don't force yourself. Don't try too hard. Your body can take care of itself. Why not let go? When you let go, your body will relax and you reduce the burden that your body has to endure, and you will have higher chances of getting out of this mess." Or words to that effect.
When I visit again today, Tuesday, 18 August 2015, I am not going to tell him, "Let go and let God." I am going to print this again after uploading, but I will give the copy to him only when I'm ready to leave Nazareth in the afternoon.
"Let It Be."
I wanted Dr Santi to think twice about Mother Mary, literally and figuratively. Despite what the author Paul McCartney says about what or who inspired him to compose "Let It Be," I have always believed that the very title and in fact the whole song itself is about the intercession of the Roman Catholic Mother Mary. John Lennon was said to hate – and I love – the song precisely because of its Christian undertones. And it's not just me; Jeffrey McLeod of Catholic Stand says, "Yes, the song is about the Virgin Mary"! (30 July 2013, catholicstand.com). Paul has said his inspiration was his Mother Mary, and that may be true, but you must remember that Paul and brother Mike's father Jim and Mother Mary were Catholics, and both boys were baptized Catholics. And, Jeffrey argues that not because the author says so that it is so. The author may be lying.
What did Mother Mary say to the angel who announced to her that she was going to bear a child and it was of the Holy Spirit? "Let it be done to me according to your word." The phrase "Let it be" is Mother Mary's phrase and nobody else. Paul McCartney wrote the words but he was thinking Mother Mary of the Child Jesus. Says Jeffrey:
Did Paul himself know what the song Let it Be was about when he wrote it? My answer is that, like you and I, he might not have been fully aware of the universal truth he was communicating. You have to help him answer that question. You participate in his spiritual milieu. Paul was raised Catholic, so you know full well that he knew the Blessed Mother would have said “Let it Be” – (or in Latin fiat). Whether he remains Catholic I don’t know. But he would certainly agree that if his song is about consolation, light, and solace, this would be a faithful portrait of the mercy of our Blessed Mother.
So, "Let It Be." Mother Mary, come to me!