Retirement is an event in which the retiree is saying both “goodbye” and “hello.” The retiree is bidding “goodbye” to a long, daily routine, at the same time saying “hello” to another phase of life. It was Shakespeare who said there’s “sweet sorrow” in such event.
And Fe Bongosia Espinosa appeared to have felt sweet sorrow during a party that marked her retirement. She retired after continuously working as a nurse for 42 years here in the US.
During the party held last August 6 at a restaurant in Southfield, Fe’s loved ones and friends took turns in recounting happy and sad moments with her and heaping praises on her for being a generous, kind, loving and wonderful lady.
Resty Espinosa, Fe’s husband, threw the retirement party for her. But Fe did not know about it because Resty wanted to surprise her. He had told her that the two of them were going to have a lunch date on that day.
And surprised was Fe when she arrived at the supposed tryst: It was not a date but a bash attended by at least 40 people, most of them her friends and fellow members of the Bukas Loob sa Diyos (BLD) covenant community. Upon arrival, she hugged all the guests to show her appreciation of their presence.
Fe, who stands about five feet and three inches, does not look like a retiree as she looks much younger than her age. This is possibly brought about by the fact she is always smiling, a pleasant habit noted by almost all those close to her.
Josie Santiago, one of the guests, said it well: “Fe is a model of what should be good because she is always smiling despite the many problems all around.”
Fe has a charming personality, and this is enhanced by the fact that she has a sunny disposition in life and that she is still relatively beautiful. It is not difficult to imagine though that she was much prettier when she was a blooming lady in Panglao, Bohol, Philippines from where she hails.
And if the statuesque beauty of Helen of Troy had caused the launching of thousands of ships, it must have been Fe’s comely beauty that compelled Resty to travel almost every weekend all the way from Birmingham, Alabama to Chicago to court her.
They met for the first time in 1969 in Nashville, Tennessee where both of them happened to be visiting their friends. Fe was then a nurse in the Windy City, while Resty was a relief veterinary medical officer at the US Department of Agriculture.
In 1971, Resty transferred to Indiana so he could be closer to Chicago and could visit Fe more often. Resty related that when he told her that he had transferred from Alabama to Indiana to be closer to her, “she just smiled.”
In April 1972, they got married in Chicago. When Resty got a promotion in 1975, the couple transferred to Michigan, where Fe worked at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak.
Since then, Fe had worked continuously at Beaumont until July 1, 2011 when she retired. Her last position was assistant nurse manager for dialysis services.
The couple is blessed with two children – Rex and Rychiee – and two grandkids, Max, four years old, and Sam, 17 months old. Rex is now a software engineer director at Arc Worldwide in Chicago, Illinois, while Rychiee is architectural designer at world-renowned Steven Holl Architects in New York City. In a video message, Rychiee described Fe as “an amazing mom,” adding, “You are a hero to me.”
But Fe is a hero not just to her daughter, but to a couple as well. Resty related that one day in 1995 while they were travelling along Southfield Freeway, they came upon an accident involving a man and a woman riding a motorcycle. They stopped, and the sight of the hapless woman sprawled unconscious on the freeway galvanized Fe into action. She applied first aid then CPR (cardio-pulmonary resuscitation) on her and told her to pray. The couple – John and Dorothy Atkinson — survived and was very thankful to Fe.
This heroic act of Fe did not escape the attention of the Michigan Nurses Association, which honored her with the “Nurse Hero Award” upon the recommendation of the Philippine Nurses Association.
Hearing all these recollections by her loved ones and friends, Fe could not stop shedding tears. One male guest was even emotional while recalling the good old days.
Reacting to the testimonials, Fe sang a song entitled “How Good It Is” with the guests joining her in the singing.
She said, “God has plans for all of us,” and she thanked the Almighty “for the love He has shown to me.” She promised to Lord
Jesus Christ that “now that I am retired, I will go to mass every morning.”
Fe’s friends and guests who shared their recollections included Rem Mandap, Lucy Estrellado, Larry Braumm, Alex and Josie Santiago, Melinda Montilla, Marlin Viola, Fran Sibug, Paz Fetizanan, Belen Dimaguila, Cloty Sitchon and Laida Laranang.