Leti, in the beginning, was just a name. All I knew of her was she was Dr. Lagmay’s better half and my husband’s classmate in a graduate Psychology course. Afterwards, I met her, in parties, in gatherings, and she was always unfailingly pleasant. Even at Dr. Lagmay’s wake at the Palma Hall, when she was already failing in health, as soon as she recognized me, she greeted me with, “Hello, Ethel, how are you?”
It was therefore a shock to me to learn she had passed away. I had brought with me to the Psychology Department an invitation for her to Fg’s booklaunching, knowing that, confined as she was to her wheelchair, she’d make an effort to attend. It was Carol who told me the bad news. Carol even said that during the dedication of the Physiological Laboratory to Fg, Leti was still alive, and she had left us just towards the last days of August. It was unfortunate that I had learned of it too late.
Friends form part of our memories, both happy and not-happy ones, even if we see them just occasionally, busy as we were raising our brood of children. I remember when we brought over a drum for their boy to their campus residence. He was just very young then, not yet going to school, and he had figured in an unfortunate accident, which I mention only to show just how Leti and Doc kept their emotions firmly under control. Their son opened the gift package and beat on the drums as if he had always been doing it, and Leti laughed through the tears she had been keeping back. I was so touched by that scene! Leti even mentioned that one of their daughters, learning the alphabet, had come upon “f, g” and had been delighted that that was F.g.’s name, and had asked why, in the manner of children.
The Lagmays and our own family shared the same sorrow: they lost Karina, then very young, and we lost Fevi when she was just 7, in an accident.
A more cheerful meeting was when I saw her at the Faculty Center Canteen. Cherry had just graduated from the Philippine Science High School and had just enrolled in U.P., and Leti, justifiably proud, commented that Cherry was finding U.P. ‘easy’ after PSHS. (I’m not sure if that’s the word she used, but it was the sense I got.) Cherry would graduate with a magna cum laude from U.P. later, and would go on to the U.P. College of Medicine, specializing later in Ophthalmology. I and several relatives and friends would have occasion to consult with her, and always, Cherry would never charge us for our consultations.
Leti and Doc visited me when I gave birth to Xenia at the Capitol Medical Center, and we visited Doc when he was confined at the East Avenue Medical Center. Later, Doc would be confined at the NKTI, but unfortunately, that time I didn’t get to visit him. During that confinement, he gave my daughter Xenia, then a resident in anesthesia at the same hospital, a copy of his book, “Journey of a Humanist”.
As they shared with us our joys, so they shared with us our sorrows, and this was true even after Doc had himself passed on. When it was Fg who passed away, Leti was there, and stayed a long time. She couldn’t believe that Fg, who was younger than she was, would go ahead of her. I could palpably feel her great sorrow at this, since she and Fg were such great friends.
It was a nice change to see her later at SM North Edsa, where her youngest son had taken her. We exchanged brief greetings, and I moved on to my chores. Looking back, I should have invited her to some repast, for that would be the last time I would see her.
These are but a few memories compressed into a short tribute for our friend Leti. I could almost hear Ver Enriquez, who had gone on ahead of Dr. Lagmay, even, praising Leti for how well she carried her maternity clothes. And of Doc and Leti, meeting at the FC canteen during class breaks, with Doc greeting her affectionately: “Darling!” All of these are now in the irrevocable past, living only in my memory.
Leti, may you rest in peace.