Nope… this is not a sequel to the 1987 comedy film Three Men and A Baby starring Tom Selleck, Steve Guttenberg and Ted Danson. The film shows the mishaps and adventures of the three wacky bachelors and how they adapt their lives to pseudo fatherhood with the arrival of one of the men’s love child. Three Roses and A Baby is not pseudo-parenthood. It tells of the story of a young couple whose lives have been transformed and revolutionized in the 9-months of being with their second baby.
Three Long Stemmed Holland Roses
She was up in cloud 9 for receiving 3 long stemmed white Holland roses and a giant-sized Kiss chocolate while all her officemates at the bank where she worked were so tickled and enthusing with oooh’s and aaah’s with the saccharine-ness (to borrow Nebz’ lingo) of the couple. She was amazed and excited not because it was her first time to receive those kinds of gifts. In fact she was always showered with beautiful red roses even when there were no special occasions. In the fourteen years from the first time they met, nine years could have made him richer had he saved his money instead of buying roses for her. There was a time when Roxas City run out of roses from their rose gardens (after the place was hit by a very strong typhoon)… Petals and Twigs Flower Shop was always an itinerary every time he was at the Big City.
He travelled early that day to the flower shop in Bacolod City to make sure that the week old reservation will not be taken by somebody else. He was excited too that he’s going to give her her first white roses. He always gives her red roses in all hues and shades, and on some other occasion – roses in pink, yellow, tangerine, cream and other colors. But this time, it would be different as he would be giving her white roses. He dropped by the Connoisseur, a shop that sold imported items and yes good chocolates…picked up the biggest Kiss chocolate he saw and walked to the bank (just a stone’s throw away from the flower shop and Connoisseur) and personally handed the gifts to her.
During that day, he was very busy arranging for a Valentine’s party at a Golf and Country Club. He fetched her early from the bank so she’d have time to be at a favorite place every lady (young and old alike) would love to go – the beauty parlor for her hair and make-up. She looked so chic and stylish in her little black dress (Audrey Hepburn dictionary), accented with a strand of south sea pearls. She looked deceptively taller than him in her black stiletto while he looked elegant and debonair too in his black trousers with white Abercrombie long sleeves and red Gucci necktie.
It was dusk. The sunset was magical. It was gorgeous, great colors and composition blended very well. It’s an enduring charm in the farm when you see the red orange burst of color across the horizon overlooking the dikes and ponds that looked like small boxes as viewed from atop the nipa thatched two-storey rest house. The beauty of the scene added to the romance that filled the air that day. Kevin Jethro, their eldest son who was 3 and a half years old at that time was still playing with the kids of the farm laborers outside the farm house, unmindful of the time and occasion.
Staying in the farm with him for several months now was a struggle for her. She was not used to farm-life. She grew up in the city all her life and it was not easy for her to travel every day from the farm to the bank. But she can’t help but agree to the decision.
Nine months earlier, they went through one of the most harrowing experiences in their lives. Their second baby Hanniel Josiah was born with a congenital heart disease – Tricuspid valve atresia (TVA). TVA is a congenital heart defect that occurs when the tricuspid valve, normally located between the right atrium and the right ventricle, does not develop properly during pregnancy. It happens to 1 or 2 for every 10,000 live births. This heart defect causes children to be cyanotic (blue) since a mixture of oxygen-poor (blue) and oxygen-rich (red) blood leaves the heart and goes to the body.
Hanniel Josiah (Hanes, the endearment coined by his parents… it’s not the popular undergarment brand) was only a few days old when he was airflown to the Philippine Heart Center for Asia. His mom and dad together with a doctor friend were with Hanes when he underwent 2 corrective surgeries in a span of a week that turned out to be very successful. Hanes got the best pediatric cardiologists at that time and everything just worked out well while in a place no one would enjoy to go. God has provided divine connections – from the doctors, nurses, many college friends who visited, and families and relatives were all out in their support to the young couple. Even the parents of the other pediatric patients were blessings to them. At the Philippine Heart Center for Asia he was mistaken to be an OFW by a lot of people. To this day, he still does not understand why the people thought he was one. He was not wearing a thick gold necklace nor a 21-k gold bracelet and though now that he is an OFW, he still abhors wearing those flashing gold jewelry. That observation proved to be a prophecy of the future for him.
They decided to stay in the farm house to save their rental of a posh bungalow in the city. He engaged with consultancy jobs hopping from one island to the other to amass funds required for the final surgery required when Hanes would reach 5 years old. They were getting in touch with Children’s Hospitals in Australia and the USA for the corrective surgery. So far, everything was proceeding as planned.
The dark ebony space began to change the backdrop of the sky. The moon started to shine in the darkness like a light bulb inside the room. The stars were born and were like droplets hanging in the air. The sounds of cricket filled the place. The street lamps suddenly came to life showering the farm house with a warm golden glow of light. Once there was darkness and then came the light.
She looked for Kevin who was playing outside. She told him to wash up and to have dinner and kissed him goodbye. She went to see Hanes, who at this time was having his regimented meal, carried and embraced him very tightly and whispered those sweet words of assurance that a mom could give to her baby – “I love you, happy Valentine’s… I’ll see you tonight after the party.” She checked the private nurse’s log on Hanes’ activities and saw everything the way it should be. He was in haste to leave as it was getting late so he peeked through the bathroom to give Kevin a flying kiss. He called her to hurry up and gave a quick kiss to Hanes before she gave him back to the nurse.
The Valentine’s Party
The red 4-wheel drive jiffy looked custom-painted for the occasion. Passing through the rough and deserted hacienda road made them realize that it was getting late. The one way bridge seemed like being stuck in Manila’s traffic jam as tricycles and other vehicles from the city were all in a rush to be at home. Everytime he tried to maneuver towards the one way bridge, he gets loud honks from the tricycles at the opposite end.
He smiled at her after knowing that despite the fast race to the Club her coiffeured hair was still intact and the red Gucci necktie wasn’t displaced out of the pin. She was stunning when she entered the club, the lovely pearls were like stars around her neck. He had a big grin to see they were among the earliest couples to get to the club.
The golf course was bristling with activity. The waft of the cool February breeze blew gently on the streamers and flaglets around the course. Dinner candles burned, the silvers can be silently heard clanging the china while the couples were serenaded by a band. Bottles of wine met the dish in perfect harmony and magic spells were woven that revealed new and unexpected levels of flavour in each other. The food was not the highest of haute cuisine and the grandest of crus but the celebration of a special day made the austere Barolo and the light Bardolino (both are Italian wine) matched the varied repertoire of dishes that night.
He was not and is not a dancer till this day. She was and still dances well to this day. (She probably got it from her mom who is a ballroom habitué). It was probably the magic spells that were woven in perfect harmony between the wine and the food that could have caused them to dance very well that night. Dancesport was not “in” at that time but there was this dance competition that night and they won that competition handily without any single doubt and protest from the other couples.
The night was getting romantic and the dinner candles were already replaced so many times. Twas the best time for the love birds to coo in their nests. The house lights came to life signalling the couples that it was time to move on to their next celebration of love. Awards were given to the winners and the masters of ceremony called out the last award to be handed that night. The couple gracefully went up to the stage to get their prize for winning the dance competition. As the prize was about to be awarded, there was a mild commotion when a group of ruggedly-dressed people (the farm workers) came running followed by some security men of the golf club and the people at the hall thought that they were being attacked by the NPAs.
A baby bids goodbye on Valentine’s Day
The program was stopped and all that can be heard was “Sir, ma’am, the baby was rushed to the hospital!” It was like a sudden deluge of the sky towards the earth. He run towards the red jiffy while their friends asked her to ride in another car. He pulled out his red necktie while she replaced the stiletto with her flat shoes. He was a sprinter when he was in high school and college and yet it seemed gone at that moment. They both ran as fast as they can and yet every stride that they took seemed to be steps backwards. He pushed the pedal so hard. It seemed like he cannot escape.
He drove against the wailing winds and eternal shadows of the street lamp posts that wallowed the night. He took the road with the feeling of being alone…exasperated and almost hopeless. Then he came to a halt, run again and suddenly stopped when he saw her at the emergency room. He saw her hugged and embraced her 9 month old baby wailing and asking why the baby whom she carried for nine months in her womb had to go on that Valentine’s day. She asked the doctors to do whatever they can to revive the baby while he looked catching his breath, his hands on his knees, and trying himself to gasp oxygen into his deprived lungs and mind.
She was crying with sounds of pain coming from out of her. While he wept, big tears escaping from his eyes. His sobs were muted by her wailings. He hugged her in his arms and both were still in unbelief that their sweet son is gone. They sat at the emergency room… tried to think… why? But there was nothing that made sense that night.
They were devastated as they sat together waiting for their baby. The ruggedly-dressed people were juxtaposed with their party-dressed friends as they surrounded the couple while they stared blankly at the spacious alley of the hospital.
Three Roses and A Baby
The baby, who looked like he was in a slumber was placed in a white basket cradle surrounded by wreaths and bouquets of flowers that did very little to enliven the grieving couple. The three long-stemmed Holland white roses that were earlier given to her that day were now laid near the baby.
The sun appeared that day with a smile but they greeted it with a puckered brow. The world should have stopped but still it continued to slither underneath their feet where tears from their sleep-deprived eyes fell and dried up.
They walked on through the scorching heat of the mid afternoon sun, tailing the vehicle that carried the cradle of Hanes to his final resting place. Every step was a prayer. As they were in his final resting place, he carried him from his cradle and placed him in a tiny casket while the songs of lamentation seemed to amplify the loneliness of everyone under the makeshift tents. She took the 3 white roses and placed them inside the casket to be with their sweet baby. He sang a song of tribute to the baby assuring Hanes that all will be well with him and his mom.
As the tiny casket was lowered to the ground, white and blue balloons were released that flew like birds towards the endless height of the sky. Every flower cast and every spade of soil were an act of separating Hanes from them. The hole was now totally covered and levelled back to the ground. It was covered by the wreaths and bouquets of flowers. There was no looking back. And as they walk the well trimmed grass towards their red jiffy for their journey home, soft rain fell like a soft pat to the aching hearts of the mom and dad.
That was a day that the earth seemed to have stood still but the hearts of those who promised to love him forever have continued to remember that Valentine’s day 16 years ago. The memories left by the short but sweet life of Hanes still linger on to this day.
After Hanes left, two more beautiful and healthy babies came. Gabrielle Khryss and Chloe Eunice have never seen their "Kuya Hanes" but they know his story and that of the three white roses.
Thanks to KaBlogs neighbors (The Pink Tarha for their Valentine pointers for Pinoys in Saudi; Klasrum ni PaJay for his I Love You Blog (hindi yun virus); Isla de Nebz for his story on Val and Tina and Other Stories and their "saccharine-ness"; The Chook-Minder's Quill A Healthy Heart II with his famous line - "Undeniably, there are men and women out there whose hearts are relatively healthy yet their love is severely and acutely ill!"; Madjik for his story on Joy sa Valentine's; The Sandbox and his Valentine's Speech; ThoughtsKoTo na meron pang mga pa download at jukebox pang Valentine's...hehehe) at sa iba pang mga kapitbahayan na hindi ko nang inabot mabisita bago mag VDay.
Hanes should be graduating in high school by the end of this school term. A few days ago, I chatted with my wife and we both consoled each other that he was not meant to grow with us. We already exchanged our e-roses and e-kisses earlier tonight...
Here's a picture taken last year during their visit to the place where Hanes was buried. They went all the way from Cebu City to Bacolod City for the visit.
Your advanced posting of your Valentine Blogs inspired me to post this Valentine Blog Special. I call it special because it's something that comes straight from my heart. Ipagpaumanhin nyo po na napakalaking EMO ako... galing lang po talaga ang blog sa kailaliman ng aking puso.
Happy Valentine's from me and my family to all of you!