Monday, September 26, 2005

Alfredo Serrano Ochoa, 28 March 1928 – 18 April 2005

Alfredo Serrano Ochoa, 28 March 1928 – 18 April 2005

(Sharing this eulogy I wrote for Papa, read during the last mass for him at Loyola Chapels, Guadalupe.)

On behalf of the Ochoa family, thank you joining us over the past four days in celebrating our father’s life and in honoring his memory.

My father passed away due to complications from diabetes. There is an interesting theory about illness that relates disease (or dis-ease) to a person’s emotional state. If one subscribed to this theory, one might say that his diabetes could be linked to suppressed emotions—for the sweetness that we know was within him often went unexpressed. To put it another away, he openly loved sweets, true Kapampangan that he was; but he was rarely openly sweet to those he loved. The Papa we knew was quiet and withdrawn, and tended to be either stern or serious when he spoke to us. But there is little doubt among us, his children and grandchildren, that behind his quiet reserve, he loved us in his fashion and had only our best intentions at heart.

Papa also had a stubborn streak—he had a definite opinion about many things and, as is true for most of us, preferred to have things done his way. This streak often surfaced in his eating habits, and definitely contributed to his diabetes’ turn for the worse. But stubbornness can have positive aspects. Stubbornness can also mean sticking to your guns, even if it means not taking the easy path. And in his life—as a husband, father, employee, public servant and servant of God—Papa committed himself, even if this was not always an easy thing to do.

It is no easy feat to raise eight daughters and provide them with the best possible education on a mid-level manager’s salary, but this he did. Our parents insisted on providing us a solid Catholic foundation by sending us to a private elementary school. Sending even just one child to private school can be tough; multiply that by eight and you have a rough notion of what my parents did for us.

But Papa did not just fund our education; he modeled it for us. He was a true life-long learner who enjoyed a life of the mind. He and my mother filled our household with books, thereby stimulating our common love for reading. He loved mind-bending pastimes like crossword puzzles and chess, and was pretty good at them. Our parents shared a love for history and travel, and he would often come home with a balikbayan box of books. Even in his late 70s, his book-craziness never waned; he kept mail-order book clubs happy by keeping the orders coming, allowing all of us, even his grandkids, to share the pleasures of reading right along with him.

It is no easy feat to be a faithful and loving husband for nearly 50 years; but this he did. In fact, his rare moments of sweetness were often showered on our mother. Take a look at the inscription to her on his college ROTC photo we displayed here and you’ll get a general idea. When our mother died, I accompanied him to this same place as we assisted in preparing her body for the wake. I was so touched by how he never for a moment left her side, how he stroked her hair and face as he looked after her. With mama gone, he would often spend hours rereading their exchange of love letters from their college days and during his brief stints in Japan and Cebu. You could tell how he treasured these testaments to how they felt for each other. This love was real, and for us daughters, it affirmed his essential goodness as a man.

It is no easy feat to love and serve God in the best way one can, but this he did. From his encounters with Father Delaney at UP Diliman, Papa continued to honor his Creator through the Christian Family Movement and his service to St. Paul the Apostle Parish as a lay minister and Grand Knight of the Knights of Columbus. His faith in God and his will to live this faith by serving the Church was a constant in his life. Papa may have died unexpectedly, but we are certain that the life of service to God that he led on earth will be rewarded in heaven.

We thank you Papa, for the life you led, for the example you set, and the lessons you left behind. We know you would have wanted to live to your 90s, just like your Nanay, our Lola Meding. But we also know that you would be just as happy to join Mama and other loved ones who have gone before you to be with God. We thank God for allowing you a full life, and a peaceful death. We will honor your memory always.


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