Sometimes life reminds us that life itself is short.
When my youngest sister, Joi, suffered a ruptured brain aneurysm in the afternoon of June 12, 2002, her critical care doctor straightforwardly told me and my parents to just go home; wait for the medical staff’s phone call; and prepare for the inevitable. I can still vividly remember that Joi woke up early that morning; took over all the household chores; and fed her two-year-old son like nothing unforeseen was about to happen.
Alas, shortly after my parents and I got home, the phone rang; the voice on the other side of the line broke the sad news: Joi had already died. She was only 22 years old.
A death in the family is certain to happen, sometimes at the most unexpected time. Fortunately, my family’s emergency preparedness at that time helped us get through those tough moments. Without missing a beat, my mom was able to pull her pre-need funeral insurance policy out of her drawer in the master bedroom. For my part, I was able to easily retrieve Joi’s life insurance policy and her son’s college education plan, along with the phone numbers of her former classmates and co-workers, from her desk drawer. We all–my mom, dad, and I, even my other sister, who was then teaching preschoolers in Bangkok–knew where to find those important documents because we were told their locations beforehand.
Starting conversations on essential preparedness planning should come early on among Filipino families, whose topic of death, even sex, is, sad to say, traditionally taboo. Besides discussing preparations for loss of life, members of any family should also talk about steps to do when someone gets laid off from work; when someone gets sick; or when someone retires at 50+ or 60 years old, which AARP Community Ambassador (Ret.) Major General Tony Taguba—our cover subject this month—has been strongly advocating to Filipino-Americans.
“Somebody has to start that conversation. It should be the parents, but in case the parents do not do that, the oldest child, or the youngest child, or whoever wants to talk about it should bring that up,” Major General Taguba says.
As we grow older, we are also bound to realize that the things we regret most in life are the things we did not bother to do earlier.
So be wise, and plan ahead.
Life is fleeting.
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