Sorrow and other ‘s’ words
Barbara C. Gonzalez (The Philippine Star) - January 14, 2018 - 12:00am

These days I have to select letters from the alphabet to help me describe how I feel. I think I will begin with the letter “S.” The first word that pops into my head is “sorrow.”

 Once upon a time, a long time ago, I was president of an advertising agency and a member of the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP). Once I was invited to talk on how I turned around our small agency, making it more creative and profitable again. The man who sent me a letter of invitation, then introduced me and made the whole event fun for me — a person who, then as now, hates to make those speeches — was Mayo Lopez, a very charming professor of Human Resource Development at the Asian Institute of Management.

Mayo and I grew to be close friends. We ended up being members of the same committees. We would often see each other at meetings where we would sit together and laugh a lot. Pretty soon we were joined by a tall and handsome man, Greg Navarro. The three of us became good friends. When I lived in Makati we would get together often for breakfast just to talk about life, politics, the economy, anything under the sun.  Always we would laugh a lot.

Then I moved to San Juan, sort of out of their mainstream.  Nevertheless, Greg organized one breakfast at my then new flat and Mayo came. They both loved the place. The last time the three of us had breakfast together was around two years ago. We had it at the breakfast place near Café Juanita in Pasig — three old friends fond of one another.  Greg was on his way to work, Mayo was on his way to AIM, and I, the oldest among them, was on my way to exercise class. That was the last time the three of us were together.

 Several years ago we found out Mayo had cancer. He made no secret of it. He would report at breakfast how well he was doing and he looked like he was doing well. The last time I saw him he was wearing gloves to protect his hands. But he was cheerful so I was not worried. I never worry about anyone I know, really. They are always so happy when we get together that worry doesn’t cast a shadow.

Last year, Greg turned 60. He invited me to his birthday party at Café Juanita. That was in March. Then on Father’s Day in June, I heard Greg was dead. That broke my heart because I loved Greg. He was one of my sweetest friends.

The other night I was in my bathroom when a black butterfly with lovely purple and indigo colors on its wings just flew in through one of the windows and lit upon the light. I examined the windows and they were both screened. I didn’t know where the butterfly had passed. But it stayed until, one morning, it was dead. On that morning I got word from my niece that Mayo had also passed on. I couldn’t go to his wake but I send my condolences to his family through this column. Mayo was a lovely man, a wonderful friend, a deep well of laughter and good times.

I wonder — am I going to be next? Once we were a threesome — friends who enjoyed talking to each other. Now two of us are gone.  What is in store for the third, the remaining one?

And after Mayo passed, I received a text from Sunshine Place that John Chua, the outstanding photographer, the husband of very small but very strong Harvey, also passed away. I was so sad to hear this. But it still left a mark on my heart. I wrote an article about him and how he took care of Harvey through her Parkinson’s ailment and now he is gone. My heart breaks for Harvey and her family.

Yet here I am on the other side of their coin, still very much alive, feeling like a very Sexy Seventy. Just think, if I wasn’t a Sexy Seventy, who would want to marry me? Yet there is a man, who is almost 80, and he still wants to marry me quick. Let me tell you, he is quite sexy himself.  I ask myself: Who would have thought any of this would be possible?

It must be the StemEnhance Ultra that I swallow regularly, dispense and still sell that must be responsible for everything about me and my soon-to-be groom.  It makes us both look young and feel very vital and strong.  A few months ago I went to see a physiotherapist for a back ache and he said my muscles were Supple.  That’s another S word.  I who never exercised except in the past year had developed a supple body at age 73!

See?  There are a few Secrets.  They are all Superb!

* * *

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