Here is the eulogy I wrote for his funeral service. It's my third one in only two years...I hope I don't have to write another one anytime soon.
Good morning, dear friends. Today we gather to celebrate the life of Alfredo Morales Arboleda-- a loving husband, father, uncle, grandfather, and friend. To his peers, his nickname was "Pedong." To those near and dear to him, he was "Tatay" (Tagalog for father).
He was born on May 28, 1928 in the province of Capiz in the Philippines. He was enchanted by my grandmother Elvira's choir-singing voice. They got married and were blessed with seven children, one of whom unfortunately passed away at a young age.
My grandfather will humbly tell you that he only finished elementary, and if he had a resume, you won't see a BA or a BSN or a PhD or a JD. Instead, you'll read a "J.O.A.T."--Jack of All Trades. Add a very positive attitude and a pair of hardworking hands, he's done almost everything just to support his family, to make ends meet. He's been a farmer, fisherman, driver, mechanic, just to name a few.
In 1997, he migrated to the US with my grandmother to join his two daughters in New Jersey. His being a senior citizen even then didn't stop him from working. He worked for a short time at Wendy's with my father. He became our resident handyman for all things that needed fixing. His magic touch made broken things work again. His latest freelancing job was as a tailor : from pants to the most challenging alteration job from one of his avid customers--that of slimming down t-shirts. Imagine that! It seemed like he was doing it more to help you look good with your clothes rather than for the meager fee he charges you for it. And it made sense, because he knew how to look good in any given occasion.
But I think his most favorite occupation was being a grandfather. He loved taking care of his grandkids no matter what. And whatever he had, he was very generous with us.
He embraced life, his smile was radiant, he had a good-natured humor, oh how he loved to eat, he was everyone's Tatay. In 2004, he pledged allegiance to the US flag.
He was a fighter. He's the most compliant patient you'll ever know. However, his final three weeks on this planet must have seemed more like three decades for him. During that time, my sister & I played the role of "para-nurse"--if there is such a term--as we took turns watching him along with our mom and Aunt Dannette.
You've probably heard of this phrase: "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." The Bible says that. And we saw it with our very own eyes. But even as the nurses wrote on their charts that he was no longer following commands, we reached out to him in our native dialect, Ilonggo, and he responded with all the body language he could muster from his fragile strength....he was still there for us.
And how thankful we are as his family for the people who kept us & Tatay company during that difficult time, for the family and friends here and abroad who offered their prayers for Tatay and for the nurses who went above and beyond in making sure Tatay was as comfortable as possible. Thank you to the health care professionals who took care of Tatay and saw him not just as a bed number in CCU or PCU or a specimen on one of their exam tables, but as a human being, perhaps even as their own father or grandfather.
That experience taught us that Love is a powerful potion that needs no prescription. This was a test of faith--the kind that taught us to accept God's will with all our hearts.
Finally, I would like to send him off in our native tongue: Salamat gid Tatay sa tanan-tanan. Mamingaw kami sa imo kag palangga ka gid namon. Indi ka namon malipatan. Malipayon nga Paskwa sa imo dira sa langit.
(Thank you very much, Tatay for everything. We'll miss you and we love you very much. We'll never forget you. Merry Christmas to you there in Heaven.)