Heidi M. Pascual*
Publisher & Editor
* 2006 Journalist of the Year for the State
of Wisconsin (U.S.-SBA)
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Staring at  Mortality in the Face
When I was young, active, and ready to start my career  and raise a family, there was no place in my mind about “resting in
peace.” That phrase – though not spoken out loud – was, for most  youth,  only for people about to face their Creator --  
those who have fulfilled their mission on Earth, those who are probably too tired and sick for decades of hard work, those
who’d rather pass than endure years of grave diseases, and those who are too old to even move by themselves. Being
young seems to erase any thought about mortality. I was focused on many challenges that “resting in peace” was farthest
from my mind, because ”life is beautiful,” and living happily necessarily means “living” not merely existing.

Like many people, I experienced the usual phases of life such as, childhood, teen-age years, college, marriage, raising a
family, career/work, and retirement. In between childhood and retirement was the busiest, most challenging phases of my
life. I am now in that phase where I am looking back at what I have done and perhaps, what else I can do. More importantly,
I am also thinking about what aging will bring, including adding the word “mortality” in my senior’s vocabulary.

At present, my high school batch (1968) is preparing for our Grand Reunion (50th Anniversary) come February 2018.  As a
member of the Ad Hoc Committee planning for activities in relation to that big event, I volunteered to work on our 100-page
Souvenir Program. One section of this proposed publication would be “In Memoriam,” a tribute to our former classmates or
batchmates who already passed. I am saddened to find out that a little more than a hundred of us (out of more than 600)
are gone, for all kinds of reasons. Recently, I have been going to wakes of batchmates, and it pains me to know they were
excited to attend our Grand Reunion.

I am now staring at mortality in the face.  I note that many of us that remain have health problems, some graver than others,
and some are financially handicapped to handle huge medical expenses. Our class adviser, whom we recently visited, is
92 years old and almost bedridden. She said, “I hope that those in your batch who have been blessed financially and
successful in their careers would help your needy batchmates. That is part of my message to you.” Looking at her now, I
couldn’t help but think backwards when she was our adviser in high school—very tough, very intelligent, and an activist in
many ways. Her mind is still intact, her manner of speaking still very much in character, but her physical strength is gone.
She also quoted Bible verses to her visitors, as if she’s getting ready anytime to face her Creator. Reality is hard to swallow
sometimes, and at that moment, I thought and accepted that I, like her, would probably experience the same gradual
physical weakness as years go by, and focus more and more on spiritual strength.

It’s interesting how women my age (and even those younger) use many cosmetics that purport to defy aging—from body
and hand lotion to facial creams; or undergo major surgery to remove wrinkles or fats; or take vitamin supplements to fight
early signs of aging. I must admit I am definitely one user of such lotions or vitamin supplements. While I cannot stop the
clock, I can at least feel much better with fresh-looking, though not necessarily young-looking, skin. Vanity is anyway free (to
exercise), although we pay much for it, enriching cosmetic companies!

Lest I wander away from my topic, I should say being a senior citizen is a blessing, especially if one is healthy and
financially stable. While “resting in peace” would eventually come to everyone, enjoying the present should be the order of
the day. How do we do that? Well, have fun with members of the family as often as possible; be with close friends or
relatives at various events whenever possible; communicate daily with God; be busy doing matters that count; and take care
of ourselves.