It Happened to Me

Granddad’s Blog Entry

We held Granddad’s funeral on Saturday, a sunny, cloudless day. Following his written instructions, he was cremated in the Philippines and his ashes were flown here to Accordion City to be interred beside the ashes of my grandmother. Although neither of them ever resided in Canada, this is their children’s chosen home, and it is the home — and in some cases, the birthplace — of their grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Their final resting place may be far from where they lived, practically on the other side of the world, but it’s close to family.

Since I am the family’s designated public speaker — I’m always called upon for readings at church, MCing events, saying free-form Grace before big dinners and improvising toasts — I was assigned the first reading and responsorial psalm (ask a Catholic friend if these terms are unfamiliar). However, I thought that I’d do a little something extra that I’d never tried before.

“Uh, Mom,” I asked, “would you like it if I played Amazing Grace?”

“You have your accordion?”

“In the car.”

“That’s very nice, son. We’ll start with that.”

The other surprise came from Granddad himself. While sorting out his belongings and getting his affairs in order, we found his diaries. Written in English and in clear, beautiful longhand (as opposed to the chicken-scratch one expects from a doctor), they show his talent for writing as well as his thoughts, plans and hopes.

At the funeral, Mom read a couple of entries. One is a personal decalogue written in 1935. The other is a letter to himself, a personal manifesto written in 1938, near the start of his medical career. With her blessing, I’ve published the entries below.

I like to think that Granddad has transcended time, space and even the grave and made his first blog entry. Welcome to the blogosphere, Granddad.

Decalogue (1935)

  1. Faith in God
  2. Faith in Yourself
  3. Consistency and Singleness of Purpose
  4. Hard Work and Perseverance
  5. Lend your troubles to no one
  6. Don’t you holler until you are hurt and then don’t do any hollering, but just hang on till you win
  7. There is plenty of crowd below but there is plenty of space above
  8. Optimism breeds hope and then success
  9. You should live while you work
  10. Success is at hand to one who seeks it

Letter to Myself (1938)

Dear Myself,

You are a physician whose thoughts are constantly focused on reaching the pinnacle of success. Never for a moment have you discarded this ideal. All your thoughts are concentrated on one thing: to attain success in your profession and be of the most benefit to mankind.

I am writing this to you as a sort of a counselor. My intentions are only for the realization of you goal. Your task is a hard one and needs a lot of hard work, patience and sacrifices. The pointers you will soon know are infallible guides in the attainment of success.

First of all, you have to consider humanity itself which is a mass of frailties, weaknesses, gratitude and ingratitude, virtues and sins — in fact every imaginable quality, both bad and good.

Your mission as a physician is to alleviate human suffering. It is your primary mission. The anguish and anxiety of families over the life of their loved ones is more than sufficient calling which should be attended to. Irrespective of any considerations, you should respond to their call. Give the unfortunate ones food and consolation for their languishing souls. Never for just one time aggravate their suffering by not so responding.

You as a human being are apt to be calloused to the frantic calls of unfortunate souls who could not materially reward you. They are in the first place, the unfortunate sons of Destiny. Denying them you most valued help embitters their already embittered life. You who could assist them with no trouble at all on your part, could do something to ameliorate their lot. Such aid as you might extend will merit undoubtedly Divine blessings. Real service is altruistic and unselfish.

Pecuniary demands from you as a physician will tempt you to consider your calling as a business. Never be so — your calling is not a business — yours is one of service to humanity — rendering service to suffering humanity will give you what you need. It will reward you much more than making of your calling a business concern.

You will encounter difficulties, obstacles, disappointments; pay no heed to them. Go to your calling, undaunted and unafraid. Every obstacle will surely melt away your firm determination — every stubborn resistance will give way to your courage. You can only reach your goal by actually working towards it. Scoff at everything that hinders your journey. Go forward, onward until you reach your goal.

At times you will feel exhausted and tired under the stress and strain of your calling. Go take a rest for a while, and resume your work after you feel refreshed and strengthened. Every little upset you may encounter may you now and then. You only have to remember that they will all pass by themselves.

As you grow older and make a little name for yourself, there will come to you a feeling self importance. You should forget your own self and feel the false vastness of your greatness. If you fall to this temptation you find your own light put out by the folly of your mistake. Your only importance, if you think you are, lies only in your own unselfish service to humanity. You only become important and great when you, as a physician could bring hope and alleviation to a suffering soul. You may not be able to bring a restoration to a physical ill — but you
could at least allay a suffering spirit by ministering to it. If at all, you should feel important — do feel so when you give service to ailing humanity.

Consider always yourself in the patient’s place. If you were suffering great pains which keep you restless — and yet you have no money with which to pay a doctor and then you had a doctor called to minister to you — just imagine the great contrast between the selfish and unselfish ministration that he may extend to you. In case of any doubt, just place yourself in the patient’s place.

14 replies on “Granddad’s Blog Entry”

When you mentioned that you had to attend your grandfather’s funeral on Saturday, I did not realize that it was for your actual lolo (as opposed to an extended family member who you considered a grandparent of sorts). I did not realize that your lolo had indeed passed away. My sincerest condolences. Thank you for sharing his beautiful writings. From what you have written about him he sounds like he was a wonderful man, and reminds me a lot of my own lolo who died when I was a child and I who still miss.

Joey, you should consider creating a new weblog with your grandfather’s journal entries. Good writing does indeed transcend time. Peace.

Yeah, number seven was my favourite too. I’ll have to post it somewhere on my desk.

I agree with Tom; your grandfather’s entries are truly timeless. What he wrote sounds as fresh and true as if it were written a day ago, and his sincerity and conviction are evident in every line. Your lolo must have been a very remarkable man, and he appears to have belonged to a family that is equally as remarkable. My best to you all.

It sounds to me like the world was robbed of yet another true asset, the type of which there are too few. The small sample of your GrandDad’s writing indicates that he recognized the need to think about others first and it seems that this is a very rare trait though desparately needed in our world.
Based on your previous posts I get the impression that he really lived life and in the process he changed the lives of many for the better. Like Gideon said, you must be proud of his legacy. By publishing these writings you have the potential to inspire others to strive for similar goals and that only furthers the grandness of that legacy. Peace to you and your family.

Moving and brilliant. Thanks, Joey – and thanks also to your Mom for granting permission to post. Thanks most of all, of course, to your Granddad. Terrific stuff.
And I agree – #7 is great.

There are tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat.
Could you put your Granddad’s name on the blog entry? Such good sentiments should not go uncredited.

What a wonderfut bit of family history to have in your possession. The interesting thing is that the thoughts are as useful today as they were seventy years ago. Pass it on to your children.

Too bad more of today’s doctors don’t consider their work a vocation and a chance to seve mankind.

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