“To live is Christ and to die is gain.”–Philippians 1:21
To experience people and compassionately share with them your joys and sorrows make life very beautiful.
My ordained church-clergy mother was assigned in a 15 years old church in Bangbang Cordova. Prior to her appointment, the previous pastor cut his affiliation with the church after the bishop decided to transfer him to another local church. Due to his disagreement with the church’s discipline, he left the denomination along with all the members, except for one.
Starting from scratch, our family had spent weekends to invite children for Bible class, praying that through the children ministry we could revive the church.
Months later, a woman, who has been a member of the church during its early years, came and began to attend the Sunday service.
Every Sunday we look forward to see her. Her beautiful smile and gentle voice were encouragement. Despite the fact that our church is dubbed as “children’s church,” the woman being the only adult (aside from our family) in the congregation didn’t stop coming to church on Sunday and fellowshipping with us.
She is Manang Narda or famously known as DARNA. A true manifestation of her name, manang Narda was a hero. She was one of the most beautiful and richest woman that I know, who aged gracefully even in her 70s.
No, she doesn’t maintain any Bello beauty products, spends long time in spa and salon, or goes shopping endlessly. Her beauty is natural. Wrinkles are clearly appearing near her eye lids, her skin turned dark brown after spending hours in planting root crops at her backyard and visiting friends. Her hair is full gray, a manifestation of wisdom. Her hands and feet were covered with hard skin due to work.
Her eyes were full of big diamonds, shining with love and grace. Her words were overflowing joy fulfilling my weary heart.
Every Sunday, manang Narda was always the earliest bird–even earlier than the kids. During kids program, manang Narda was always present and lively danced with the kids.
Manang Narda’s farewell tag “INGAT” comforts me on my way home. After Sunday service, it a habit that I walk manang Narda home before leaving. But before she bids goodbye she would hold my hand with both of hers and softly say “Ingat Joy.”
Most Christians I know, including myself, would normally say God bless as a sign of farewell. Not that it’s a bad thing but because we wanted to fill the other person with God’s blessings–a form of prayer. Yet manang Narda has her own way.
Ingat Joy, she would say and in reply I tell her “Yes Darna!” She would smile and laugh a little (because her fragile body is limiting her strength).
Not too long ago, March this year, manang Narda was on her way home from gardening a few houses away, across Cordova’s national high way. Leaning forward, walking one step at a time, manang Narda suddenly fell on the ground.
Reports from the neighbors stated that manang Narda was hit by a motorcycle speeding towards her direction. The suspect, an Australian, thought of escaping from the responsibility when some of the witnesses, manang Narda’s neighbors, run after the foreigner and brought him along to the hospital.
Manang Narda was rushed to the hospital. Doctors said she two of her leg bones broke and that necessary operation must be done. Manang Narda’s leg, a week later, was cemented temporarily and she was allowed to go home for the continuous medication.
On Easter Sunday (April 4) my siblings and I went to visit manang Narda to check up on her. The thought of not seeing manang Narda early morning coming in from the gate and sitting with her during the service emptied me.
With constant medication from the support of the foreigner who was responsible of her incident, manang Narda was getting better. I was so excited to share with her what she missed and how the children wanted to see her. But little did I know that my Easter visit to her would be our last conversation.
April 12, a call from some of the children in our church reported that manang Narda had already passed away. She died at the age of 74. Her son, nong Tibo, said DARNA was just sleeping when she died. “What a relief,” I said.
I was relieved to know that manang Narda has now joined our Father in Heaven. Teardrops started falling from my eyes–I was covering a political campaign at that time when I received the information.
I may have lost a friend but that friend has gained a life worthy to die for—eternity with the Creator.
Flashes of manang Narda’s images occupied me for about a minute. The crying had stopped. I slowly smile as I see manang Narda smiled at me. The sky was full of blues and whites that covers the earth from the raging rays of the sun. Manang Narda was finally put to rest after half a day’s walk towards her worldly body’s end.
Thank you Darna for all the riches and beauty secrets you shared. It will surely grow and flourish! Wait for me in heaven—I am sure it will be a fun-filled life for eternity!
It was wonderful that you were able to experience manang narda’s friendship 🙂
It’s not often that we find someone like that…..