Sunday, August 31, 2014

Sergio, Milagros, and Mario

We continue with excerpts from Ken Ishikawa's manuscript about Raul M. Gonzalez (b. 1930):

“Raul’s older brother, Sergio is known as the joker of the family.  He was the warmth to Ester's coolness.  Unlike his elder sister, Sergio loved to talk and to entertain guests.  His amiableness and outgoing nature, he got from Estrella.  Despite, having contrasting qualities with some of his siblings, Sergio was not a belligerent big brother.  Like his mother, he loved supporting his siblings in their endeavors…

“After Raul came Milagros and then Mario.  Milagros was the youngest girl of the family and therefore the three older siblings were protective of her.  For all her life, she's been called Baby.  As a little girl, Baby would often be at the tail of his brother Raul, hoping to be included in his latest adventure.  However, Raul would leave her behind because he often investigated the paddies and the fields for tadpoles, catfish and tilapia.  Mario, on the other hand, was always holding the hem of their mother, as he was too young to venture on his own…

“During the early days of the resumption of classes [after the end of the Second World War], Sergio, Raul, Baby and Mario were crossing the road.  The siblings were rushing to the other side because of the rains, and Mario got left behind in the middle of the crossing.  He got hit by a US army jeep.  The soldier immediately drove him to the Mission Hospital where he was tended by American doctors.  According to their diagnosis, Mario suffered from a dislocated shoulder because of the bump.  However, the overzealous physicians, in their desire to let the boy suffer no pain, injected him with morphine.  Whatever dosage it was that they used for the 7-year old Mario would prove to be a deadly one: the boy woke up no longer.

“It was a tragedy that tore the hearts of all family members.  Were they awarded with survival from the war only to suffer this cruel joke in the end?  Estrella took Mario's death most painfully.  After the burial, she would hold the boy's picture and cry for hours.

“From then on, the Gonzalezes' faith in the science of medicine was shaken.  They avoided hospitals, developed a distrust for doctors, and reviled painkillers and anaesthetics.  Whenever one of the children got sick, Delfin and Estrella asked a relative, Dr. Piamonte, to make a housecall.  If they were the ones who fell ill, they took their pain in stride.  One of Estrella's fingers once got broken but she never asked for a doctor to come to mend it.  That finger would stay crooked for the rest of her life.  Years later, Delfin would die of thrombosis.  Although his was still a treatable condition, Delfin allowed it to go worse until it killed him.

“Like his parents, Raul became suspicious of doctors and medicine.  Many years later, whenever his own children had to be hospitalized, he admonished against the use of anaesthesia.  Mario's needless death taught him that even experts make mistakes.  It was a physician’s lack of precision and forethought that killed his youngest sibling.”

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