One Fine Day in the Life of Edward

Edward and DaughterBrother Edward is a gracious soul today, his lips beaming with much thanksgiving. “The good Lord has blessed us so greatly.”

One Sunday two years ago he was a different person. You should see him now walking in great strides as he surveys his little world in this hamlet of Maraag, Sudlon 2, Cebu City. No longer is he the man I saw that Sunday, with a big wound on his head, with a just cause to take on the ones who almost killed him.

That day, his body was in pain and gangrene was a big threat. He had just arrived from the city, where the doctor hurriedly attended to his wound and sent him home immediately because Edward did not want to stay even a day at the hospital, even if his head wound was big enough that it required stitches and anesthesia and large doses of antibiotics. He could not afford a room, he had no money to pay the doctor. One good Samaritan paid his hospital bill and that was all. Edward did not want to burden the man by staying another day at Cebu Doctors. So home he came.

The night before, he had been challenged to a fist fight by his younger brother Arnold who was drunk, and attacked with a broken wine bottle by his brother Arturo who was equally drunk.

These are his brothers in the flesh, Arturo and Arnold, and he is the eldest in the brood. He had brought them with him to Maraag years ago, together with another sister, when times were good and he was earning a good pay while in the employ of the Chinese owner of the land. The promise of a better life in Cebu than the one they had in their home place of Malita, Davao del Sur was the motivation.

These are brothers on whom he showered gifts of love; they ate at his table, stayed in the house he had provided for their use. Edward wanted to be close to them, because in their youth they were not. The eldest son in the family, he left home, adopted by his own grandfather. Apart from them Edward had been missing his childhood and wanted to make up for that loss.

But apparently theirs was a relationship that started sweet and got soured.

That Friday night two years ago, the two ganged up on him. Arturo hit him with a broken Vino Kulafu bottle the size of his arm. He bled. A neighbor who took pity on him put him on his motorcycle and brought him to Cebu Doctors.

There was pain in his voice, there was anger in his eyes. In a manner of speaking, he wanted God to send fire and hailstones. I understood.

As counselor it has not been my habit to dig up the past between them; other counselors probably would; to understand the present you need to know the past. But their past after they arrived in Maraag was one relationship in a great mess. And I didn’t want to take part in the blame game among brothers. The salvation of the souls of all of them was what I was after; if I sided with one, I created disharmony in the relationship I was trying to build with the other two; and I could not teach them anymore.

Edward told me that the much bigger hurt he had was in his heart. I offered him my sympathy and procured for him more antibiotics.

A few days after, the case of the three brothers was brought to the attention of the village chief. “What do you want them to do?” I asked him before he left for the meeting with the village chief.

“I want them out of this village,” he said. He had gotten tired of them. Enough.

We took it to the Lord in prayer. I prayed for Edward and his family to be strong in those difficult times of their lives. We never knew what to do, but the Lord did; He had solutions to the problem.

Arturo was banned from the village. Arnold too was told to pack up bags and family and get out of Maraag. Arturo was never seen. Arnold tried his luck in Manila, leaving his pregnant wife, to make enough money and transfer his family to Bohol. He never made any; and came back to the same hard life in Maraag that the Lord had in store for them.

I tried to work more on Edward than I did on the other two, and became his adviser and confidant on many things that involved making decisions. Per my advice he took the offer of a group to support the college education of his son Win in Leyte, their offer of capital to finance his farming, their offer of a vehicle. I said, “They just want to help you; grab their hospitality, not forgetting to be thankful. And most of all,” I added, “start forgiving all those who did you harm. Jesus forgave those who nailed Him on the cross, and died. From all indications all of us humans have suffered less than Jesus had.”

Edward said he would try.

When his brother Arnold’s wife delivered a baby in a Cebu hospital, Edward looked for good Samaritans who could help, and paid for his sister-in-law’s maternity bills. He allowed Arnold to come back.

I befriended Arnold. Invited him to lunch. Bought bread and had coffee in his house, sharing that blessing of food with him and his family. I prayed for him as much as I prayed for Arturo. Most of all, I prayed that they would change.

Last week they –Arturo, Arnold and another man– met an accident on the Transcentral Highway. Their motorcycle was a wreck.

That day of the accident Edward came with his son Win to the hospital. His brothers Arturo and Arnold were a sorry sight, their driver companion was comatose.

Arnold admits to me that he and Arturo had a few drinks; their driver was drunk– and sleepy.

God in a way uses human failures and insensibilities to teach them lessons they need not forget, when nothing could make them remember.

“How was Arturo?” I ask today.

“He could not look at me,” Edward answers. “And I thank God that I have listened to you.”

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