We caught up with popular talk show host Boy Abunda to find out how he’s coping with his mother’s illness, the life lessons he will never forget, and the experiences that shaped him to be the person he is today.
Q: Please tell us how Nanay Lesing is doing now. BA: Nanay is going through mild dementia and Alzheimer’s. She hasn’t lost her memory of names, but there are already signs of the ailment, like geographical dislocations and other indicators. Alzheimer’s, being a primary ailment, doesn’t have a cause, and doesn’t have a cure. Degeneration can only be suspended and arrested, slowed down, but all of us degenerate.
Because of that, I have to assess very carefully my load of work because my priority is being with my mother and taking good care of her. I took a break from my management job and gave the company (Backroom) to my employees because I needed to spend more time with Nanay. Managing can be very tedious and demanding, very personal.
Q: What are the things that you are able to do now for your Nanay? BA: A lot. I am able to have lunches with her and that’s a big deal. I am able to have dinners with her, sa bahay lang. I’m able to sit down with Nanay and speak to her. I’m able to sleep for 10 minutes beside her, I’m able to watch her as she does her physical and occupational therapy. I’m able to watch her dance and swing a bit, see her depressive moods, I see when she resents being told by the nurses on what she should do – in other words, I’m being there. And I’m able to respect and honor my mother with my time.
I used to have this notion that I’ve earned enough for me to be able to support Nanay’s medication, hospitalization, healthcare. Hindi pala yun. You know why? Especially when you are dealing with a case of dementia or Alzheimer’s, even if you have nurses 24/7 to take care of your mother, you have kasambahay who take care of her, it’s different when you’re there. When Nanay talks about a truth that happened to her 25 years ago, nurses don’t understand, and you have to be there to validate it and tell them, “Ok yun, nothing’s wrong with her.” She’s just telling you something that happened to her. That truth, to her, is true to her today. You have to be there to contextualize; otherwise, people will say she’s insane. She’s not. Somebody has to be there who knows her story, who knows who she is. So when she looks for her black bag that she gave to her niece 5 years ago, you know that she’s talking about that favorite bag. So I say “Nay, ibibili kita ng bago, mas malaki dun.” You dance with her, you have to know her groove, you have to know her truths, and you have to understand her truths.
Nobody can deliver that love, care and empathy except her children. My sister is the mayor of our city. She can’t be here, I understand. And even if she were here, I still would have done the same. These are the things that I can do now for my mother.