Our home had been a coffee shop. We always had visitors at home. They would gather around our home to discuss problems and other simple matters. We welcomed them with coffee, biscuits, peanuts, and bread. It was a favorite hangout for grown-ups and serious gentlemen.
One of our avid regular visitors was Brother Agustin Lequin. He had always dropped by our house to talk about legal matters regarding Leyte Christian College and regarding the church. Sometimes he had no news. He just liked to have a cup of coffee and to have some conversation with my parents. The sound of his motorcycle had become familiar to us. Our helper, Rowena would always bring him a cup of coffee whenever he came. Since then, we would always expect his visit.
This afternoon, I went to town with my parents and my brother. They were heading to the hospital but I chose not to go with them. I thought they would stay there long and I knew I could not handle my emotions whenever I could see badly sick people. He was in cardiac arrest. By the time they arrived at ICU, Jenny was already grieving for the loss of her father.
He complained about his heart ailment four days ago. In spite of his daughter’s advice to visit a doctor, he remained at home. He was avoiding large sums of money for check-up bills. He had endured until he experienced severe pain and was sent to hospital at around four o’clock in the morning. Late morning, he was trying to rise from his bed. He was taking off all the wires, injections away from him. Blood was dripping from his arms as he struggled for life. His son-in-law, Jesse, embraced him as he was fighting back, wanting to be released. He was unconscious then. His daughter called everyone she knew. His friends prayed and promised to help. At around three o’clock, his heart gave up.
He died at the age of 63. He would have died at the age of 64 if his death were postponed 23 days later.
I have heard stories of famous people passing away. I have attended a funeral and have tried to comfort my friends for the loss of their loved ones. Of all those lamentations, Brother Lequin’s death has deeply affected me.
I grew up seeing his family going to church. I saw him driving his motorcycle to church. I remembered his wife preparing a small surprise in one of our evening worship services. She brought food for us. We ate after our evening worship had ended. Her smile is still clear in my memory. It was the smile that glimmered when she said, “Pancit para mahaba ang buhay.” Years came, we were witnessing her funeral. We did not know that we would also be in her husband’s funeral. I was there when he was ordained as an elder of the church. I saw how his family added members: Jesse and Jena, his granddaughter. It is hard for me to believe that a man, whom I have seen in church since childhood, will no longer be with us in our next worship assembly.
I am relishing the last few moments of his life.
He was sitting in a bench at our front yard. He was sipping his coffee while he was waiting for my parents to arrive. After twenty-minutes, he rushed to Tagpuro (a 30-minute drive from our place) so that he can let my father sign some legal documents. I could have insisted him to come in and watch TV (even if I knew he was not interested.) I could have said, “Brother Lequin, please watch your heart” but he looked healthy to me on that day.
On his last visit at home, my father asked me, instead of Rowena, to serve him coffee. As far as I can remember he said something like this, “Espesyal man it nagserve.” I felt the cheer in his voice. I never knew that it was his last cup of coffee with us.
Last Sunday, he was teaching Bisaya Bible class. Those who attended his class said he was already slow and weak. After our worship service had ended, Daniel took pictures for our church directory. It was a perfect circumstance for a family picture because his son-in-law was with them after how many months away from his wife and his child. We did not know that it was his last picture and they did not know that it was their last family picture together.
His kindness may not be understood in the tone of his voice. People often judged his manner of speaking as offensive and defensive but people who knew him for a long time, would say that it was his normal manner of speaking. Nevertheless, his goodness was evident in his actions.
Many people have seen his goodness. Years ago, when cellular phones were considered luxury, he gave his cellphone to a preacher who was traveling back to his hometown with his family. He had helped one of our young people whose parents were not around to fully support him. If you asked him about law,government, important people in town, he would give you the answers. His dream was to become a lawyer. He did not study law but we treated him like a lawyer . He was honest and straightforward. When he found out that someone was trying to fool my father, he would speak up and defend my father. As his heart was physically deteriorating, it was actively functioning in his spirit.
In the last few days of his life, he worked and worked. He had been a legal expert. He had been an elder of the church. He had taught Bible class. He made himself busy and pleasing to God.