One by one, the petals drop

Posted by watchmen
September 16, 2017
Posted in OPINION

I was asked to write — in my own words — about my dear departed Rudy who will be honored on Sept. 17, 2017 convention of the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL). NUPL is holding its 10th Anniversary.
What could be a better tribute than the column I wrote five years ago — to commemorate the finale of Rudy’s trek to the stars. With your indulgence, kind reader, please read on:
One by one, the petals drop. Like my tears, the petals drop… Fragments of a song of long ago when the hubby and I were wide-eyed teen-agers. How did the title of this column come to mind? The tulips that our friend, Rev. Edmond Yee, placed by the hospital bed went to full bloom, then slowly the leaves drooped, the petals dropping one by one, just as Rudy—hour by hour, moment by moment—gradually wasted away, giving way to the Inevitable Day that flesh is heir to.
How do I shorten a life’s story? Please bear with me on this piece most personal to me and my family. Dec. 2: Rudy and I along with daughter Rose, her husband Timothy, and her mother-in-law Kathi were at the Johnny Mathis Christmas show at the Paramount Theater here in Oakland, California. Dec. 3: In a condo by Lake Merritt, a beautiful retirement place, that Rudy and I call home, we called 911, an emergency call that rushed Rudy to the Alta Bates Summit Medical Center. All medical interventions proved futile against kidney failure worsened by heart, liver, and lung complications. December 2 and 3. Gosh, what a difference a day makes. Finally, Feb. 7, it was Consummatum est.
I tried putting off writing this column. One of the hardest I’ve ever written — the words drawn-out piece by piece from clusters of memories accumulated through the years of being together. I wrote In loving memory for my brother Ronnie in no time at all for his funeral service. I thought about using it too for a title about Rudy. Or to be precise, like what newspapers usually do, it could be: RODOLFO GEDANG LAGOC, 76. He turned 76 last Dec. 18 in a birthday like no other in Rudy’s life — celebrated in the hospital where a single pink candle flickered atop a cake.
Januaray 30, 2012, doctors and nurses asked how long we’ve been married when they saw the balloons beautifully imprinted: Happy Anniversary! Well, well, it was our 52nd wedding anniversary. Fifty-two years of hard labor, huh? What is the tie that binds? Excess of patience? What mettle? Hey, folks, say what you will, the tie that binds is harmony in aims and values. Similarity of interests is saying it lightly. Guts and grit in us would be stronger — to deflect the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, if we have to be Shakespearean about it. I could think of only one word that bound us for 52 years. The word is activists. Yes, Rudy and I are both activists, and always will be (he across the Great Divide). I could imagine him shaking hands with the comrades who, like him, also went ahead. Comrades with their dreams and hopes for the people — the dispossessed, the disempowered, the oppressed and exploited — struggling for a better life.
Long before Martial Law and long before he was promoted Executive Labor Arbiter of NLRC (National Labor Relations Commission, Region VI), we passed by a group of workers on strike against the unfairness of management. Rudy said let’s help hold some of the protest placards. We did, and contributed P5.00 in support. (That was when a five-peso bill was still valuable.) The gesture was an “epiphany” of things to come — his detention in the Marcos stockade for being an outspoken critic, his becoming a labor judge, and a human rights lawyer after retiring from the government.
With all his lawyering for the poor, Rudy remembered how gratified he felt when an old couple hugged him and thanked him with a bunch of bananas for having won their case. No amount of money could replace what he felt, Rudy said. This reminds me of a call in the night when a huge sum was dangled to influence his decision. It happened, too, when we were financially at our weakest — sending all four children to college. But honesty prevailed.
The caller at the other end of the line mentioned the amount which went higher and higher with every ringing of the phone. I said, “Tell him to stop calling. He keeps bothering us.” The fellow finally asked Rudy: “How much do you really want?” Bribery! How many crimes have been committed in thy name! Thank, God, honesty was never a lonely word with Rudy.
I could write a book to contain all the memories — maybe one day when our hopes and dreams for country and people would have been realized./WDJ

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