This Ilocano phrase, when literally translated, asks for the Lord’s grace in saying “thank you,” with a prayer that the person being thanked is blessed a thousandfold.
We say Dios ti agngina, Manang* Vi, our househelp of many years—she who watched our three mischievous little boys grow up into responsible young men; she who had served all my siblings and their families when they came to visit.
She was a member of the family, and we feel deeply indebted to her.
Manang Vi passed on yesterday, just days after her 70th birthday, in her hometown. After supper she said, “I want to sleep now.” She never woke up.
It was about this time last year when she left us for good. Before then, she’d been worrying over her sister, Francing, who suffered from terminal cancer. She would regularly send money to the province for medication and called the shots over the phone. Unfortunately, Francing didn’t make it.
She went home for Francing's funeral and when she came back, she was never the same again. She would stare into space, feel all sorts of aches, and worse, she was testy with everyone.
|On her last Christmas with us|
She snapped, “How can I smile when I am not feeling well!”
I took the chance to tell her what we’ve been afraid to say years earlier (since she turned 65), “Maybe you need to take a rest; you’ve been working all your life and--”
“No,” she said curtly. But days later, her sister came to pick her up. Her retirement money had been advanced years before, because she wanted to put up a business. But we felt we still owed her, and pooled our resources (Tony and I are now both retired) to send her off with a decent farewell gift.
My sister, brother and sister-in-law would visit her once in a while since my family lives so far away. They would bring a pastor to pray for her. “She doesn’t look good,” they’d tell us.
Son #3 made time to visit her, too, and his prognosis was the same.
What grieves me now is the phone call that her family cannot afford the down payment for funeral services. She had money—she’d been able to buy a farm, build a house, and send her nieces and nephews to school. Often, I would tease her, “Hey, Miss Moneybags, save some money for your funeral expenses.” Did she ever listen?
But now is not the time for questions. She had always been there for us; we will be there—as we pool our resources one last time—for her.
Rest now, Manang Vi. “You have fought the good fight, you have finished the race, and you have remained faithful.” 2 Timothy 4:7 (NLT)
Dios ti agngina.
*an Ilocano honorific for older sister; Ate in Filipno