Living with Lolo, my father-in-law, is an adventure. The 81-year-old grandfather is suffering from Alzheimer’s. He spends his days outside sweeping or pulling weeds. It keeps his mind occupied. Lolo will talk to Fernando Poe, Jr. or spontaneously sing songs he has composed. Most times he is content to do that.
But there are days, as my asawa (his daughter) puts it, that “his brain is not working.” Occasionally my father-in-law will bolt out the front door at a pace that would put an Olympic sprinter to shame. When he does, it’s time to chase after him. He’s headed somewhere and trying to get off the five hectares that the “The Farm,” our current home, is located on. He’s on a mission.
Lolo was restless the minute he awoke that morning a few weeks ago. After his daily cup of coffee and pan de sal, he sat on his favorite plastic chair next to our living room couch instead of heading out to do his sweeping or weeding chores.
I asked my ever-patient asawa what was going on. Amando, his middle son that lives in Palawan, was going to stop by. Amando and Fernando Poe, Jr., former Philippine action star and now deceased for many years, were coming over and FJP was going to buy a lot in Guimaras for P200,000. Lolo was going to sit and wait for them.
My wife explained that Amando was NOT coming and that Fernando Poe was dead. “Fernando,” Lolo said to an invisible FPJ, “they say you are ‘patay’ (dead.)”
No matter. My father-in-law refuses to believe that the Filipino legend is dead and continues to wait.
My wife had to run an errand at the market and asked me to keep an eye on her father. My spouse does not get a chance very often to get out of the house so I’m glad to help out.
My asawa sends a text to Nono, our regular tricycle driver, and soon leaves for the market. . Lolo, by this time, has decided to quit waiting for Amando and FPJ and is outside sweeping a sidewalk.
I’m inside the house preparing my morning snack when I spot Lolo taking off. He sprints for our nearby rice fields. Our property is fenced in, though there are possible exit points where my father-in-law could leave the property.
The narrow path through the rice slows my father-in-law down. He sits down to rest as I finish my daily cup of tea. Lolo continues to stay seated. I keep a close watch on him.
15 minutes later, Lolo gets up and starts walking across the rice field again. This time he crosses over and sits in the shade underneath a tree. He’s sitting down again and resting. I figure it’s time to go out and try and retrieve him when I hear a tricycle coming down our path. My asawa is back.
I walk over to my wife and advise her of the situation as I help her bring some groceries in. She’s only been gone an hour. After the groceries are taken inside, we both head out to get Lolo back in the house.
My wife takes off across the narrow path across the rice field. I stand watching. The field is wet and muddy with recent rains. I’m a 61-year-old geezer that is not that nimble on my feet. I let my spouse head out alone.
But Lolo puts up a struggle when her daughter arrives. He is seated on the ground and clutching the trunk of a very small tree. My wife manages to unfold his fingers and break his grip but he wrestles with my spouse as they both fall to the ground. That’s it!
I carefully walk across the path but midway in I lose my balance and fall into the rice field. I’m splattered with mud but manage to get to my feet. As soon as I approach Lolo, still mud wrestling in the rice field, he stops struggling with my asawa.
My wife and I help him to his feet we head back to The Farm. My spouse washes her father off with a hose located outside our back porch. I clean up and head inside.
Lolo was angry that his daughter took off in the tricycle as he thought she was going to take him to meet his son Amando and Fernando. Upset, he made a break for it.
“Domingo, Domingo, do not come across! Domingo, stay there!” is what my asawa informed me that her father was shouting as I started to cross the rice field. Lolo cannot pronounce my real name, “Dave,” and thus, addresses me as “Domingo.” I don’t mind. Sometimes he will sing the following: “Domingo, Domingo, is so gwapo (handsome).” How can I object to that? It must be the Alzheimer’s, poor guy. Either, that, or Lolo is in dire need of some eyeglasses.