Yesterday, my youngest brother celebrated his birthday. He's still in the throes of his board review and I hope he makes it this October. If he does, he's promised to come and visit us soon.
When my brother was born, I wasn't exactly ecstatic. My sister and I, were enlisted to be babysitters when my mother was busy with household things. I was a horrid older sister and I must have said some nasty things to him when he was still a baby.
My mother had the hardest time when she was pregnant with my youngest brother. For the entire nine months, she lay in bed with the curtains drawn across the windows, surrounded by the smell of puke. My mother says that towards the end, when she was very ill and could not bear to eat, my father asked her if he should take the baby away.
My mother never tires of telling this, of how one of my aunts told her that this child would be the one who would help her the most. So, my mother told my father not to touch the baby, unless it was a matter of life and death. Which is how I came to have my youngest brother.
They called him Joash, after the young king in the Bible, and Pio, after my grandfather. When he was still very young, he displayed a remarkable strength of will. It's the same will that I see in my own son, and I hope that God will give me the same wisdom that he gave my mom when she was bringing us up.
In my brother, his will to become a doctor manifested itself at a very early age. I don't remember him ever saying that he wanted to be anything else but a doctor. All throughout his elementary and his highschool years, it was as if he was already living his life in preparation for the years that he would be spending in Medical school.
Here's an anecdote:
When he was still an elementary student, he and my other brother went to visit our neighbour's son. This neighbour had a dog who had just given birth. I remember this very clearly because none of our parents were home at the time. I was seated at the piano when I heard the sound of sobbing and loud voices.
I stood up and saw the carpenter, Manong Celo, carrying my youngest brother in his arms, blood was streaming down his leg and Manong Celo was crying out for my father.
Behind him, JJ, my other brother was white faced and almost in tears.
It so happened that during their visit to the neighbour, they had passed close by the dog's litter and in fury, the dog jumped up and attacked them. JJ and the neighbour's son were able to leap up into the water tower, but my youngest brother was too late and the dog caught him and took a huge bite out of his upper thigh.
There we were, me a medical ignoramus, my brother a panicky highschooler and lucky for us, my aunt who was an experienced nurse.
To our surprise, after the first panic had passed, it was JJ who broke down into tears, while my younger brother puffed out his breath and said between puffs,
"Don't worry, bro, it doesn't even hurt."
Even if he claimed that it didn't hurt, we still had to bring him to the hospital, where we discovered that he needed stitches and injections.
I think that I was more terrified than he was, because when the doctor came back, he commented on the courage of my brother.
"He didn't even need anesthesia," the doctor said.
So, there you are. If that isn't proof enough of what kind of a doctor he'll make, I don't know what is.
There are many other incidents like this one, but if Joash reads this, I think he'll laugh and if JJ reads this, he also has his tales and if my sister reads this, well... we all have our stories to tell and one day, we will gather them all together and tell them to our children and our children's children.
I can see myself now, I'll probably be like my mom...saying to Joel Jan...
"You know, when your uncle Joash was in elementary school..."
Anyway, Joash, happy birthday.
I think that you'll enjoy reading Barbara Jane Reyes's poetry too. Take a look. I've linked one of my favorites down here.
***** Her love poem i,
which I found on the internet reminds me of something that I wrote for Joel Jan sometime ago, it's also something I'd like to share with all my Filipino friends and family who are proud to be Kayumanggi. Barbara's poem resonates inside my mind and tugs at my heart reminding me of the ties that bind me to the Philippines, and to my brownskinned brethren who are scattered to the four corners of this earth.
Yes, I am
and I'll say the words that we don't say often enough...
I love you, bro :) Take care.