Tuesday, February 05, 2008

This one's for grandma

I got an offline YM message from an aunt working abroad.

She delivered her message into two installments. Two short simple lines. But these rather curt sentences have been the greatest shock I’ve received yet in my entire life.

tita jen (1/30/2008 4:01:44 AM): hi donnie... our beloved NANAY is with GOD now.
tita jen (1/30/2008 4:02:25 AM): She didnt wait for the time to see you say your first mass.

Trying to make sense with her message, my mind was emptied. Everything turned out blank. All my energies went kaput.

My lola’s demise is so far the first serious death in our family. Yes, I remember that an aunt and a cousin died a decade ago, but lola's passing away is different, at least for me.

I literally grew up with her. This is especially true when I was too young and my mom (my dad working abroad) had to leave me each morning in her arms. My lola filled whatever lacuna my mom couldn’t fill.

Call me lola’s boy, but my moments with her will remain the sweetest and most special moments I cannot afford to forget.

I recall that when I was young, she would narrate the adventures of Heidi to me. Each night was a different story, but the character was always Heidi. That would send me to be sleep comfortably.

My lola would tag me along in the market place to buy vegetables and delicacies which she would sell to the neighborhood. When she thought of penetrating the food industry, I was her youngest and most willing dishwasher. It felt good to offer my service to her.

She spoke fluent English. I can’t exactly remember if she they were well-constructed English sentences since I was too young back then. But they sounded really good. Soon, I would realize that I would exert my effort to study the language so that one day, I could use it as I converse with her.

This goal, I would find out, would no longer be realized, or who knows? Maybe, soon.

She was a courageous woman. She would always risk her limbs and even her life, when her children, who were all grownups, would figure into brawls against each other. She would shield the weaker one from the stronger one until she would be hurt in the process. Her screaming cries would eventually signal the rumble into its conclusion.

But still, she loved them all.

If she had any favorites among her children, I guess it would be those who did not make it in life, especially those who were most in need of her care.

She was loved in return by her children and grandchildren. She will always be loved.

Her death is something we all expected. It’s just a matter of when.

Contracting Alzheimer’s disease for about a decade now, I was afraid that she’d go from worse to worst. She couldn’t recognize anyone—from my mom to all of us in the family circle. It came to a point when we had to tie her to her racking chair at times since she got lost for a number of times already. We couldn’t afford to lose her.

My mom who accompanied her in her last moments did it with much love and care. I saw how she endured all difficulties and I am so proud of her.

I wanted to fly to Manila to pay my last respect to her, but I decided against it. I am not ready for such emotional and physical ordeal. I know how fragile I am. And so, the past week has been a one-of-a-kind grieving session—all by myself.

Remembering her in all my prayers for the last five days is the best offering I can do for her.

I was praying to hold her warm hands again upon returning from Cebu; but I guess, some things are not meant to be.