Hello there readers! My dear assistant Thea's grandmother recently passed away in the Philippines. She told me a bit about her Mamang and I wanted to hear more. She wrote this lovely piece about her amazing life. It inspired me to keep talking about and grieving my own father as we move into the holidays. I thought you all would be touched by it as well...
Mamang by Thea Andal
She was beautiful. Well-respected. Loved. Graceful. Poised. Her hair in a light pony tail, nails polished in pink, tiny lips with a ready smile, tender voice...that's how I remember my grandmother, "Mamang" to all of us her grandchildren.
My siblings and I grew up living close to her, my step grandfather and aunts. We were their frequent visitors and it made our lives easier because we didn’t have to travel far to see them. When they had to move because my grandfather was appointed as municipal judge in a different place we'd spend our summers under their care.
I can still clearly remember days spent in the "bahay kubo" (nipa hut) they bought for us. The mini clay pots we used to cook banana plantain in syrup; the pile of sand, that one day was delivered and poured in their front yard because my cousins and I requested for it; the hearty meals she prepared for us; the weekly trips to a local pool because we all loved to swim: the short programs we had to kill time because of power interruptions back then and our song “If We Hold On Together” which my cousins and I gamely sang each time. They are all priceless. We were allowed to name animals too. We had two ducks, one was named Peppermint Patty, the other Linus and a goat named Woodstock. We were never scolded except maybe for nights when my cousin Iris and I couldn’t keep our mouths shut and spent the whole night talking endlessly. But it would only be a gentle voice telling us to sleep.
Come school opening, I had a lot to write about how my summer went. I would always have sore fingers after all the writing.
Fast forward to my college years, we traveled together to Manila. She was scheduled for a vacation, I to enroll. On our plane trip, I can remember her telling me that the phase I’m entering is a totally, totally different one. That so much is expected from me and that I should be responsible for my actions. Those words kept a mark. I was only 16 then and was about to start a journey in the big city. It was those words that made me struggle to be a better student, a better version of me.
My grandmother was a woman who, although has been through a lot in life, remained composed. In her younger years I never heard her raise her voice. She was that way. And did I mention she was loved by so many people? She was. She had her cute punchlines. She had a good sense of humor...until the last few days that she can talk.
She was a fighter! And so, when one night I received a message from my aunt that the doctor asked her to sign a DNR form - I broke down. How could that be? I was with her about a week ago. I was working late, she woke up and we talked for a while.
Then came the flashbacks. I actually had the opportunity to listen to her stories months before her memory problem worsened. She told me how she met my step grandfather and the story of a young rich man, an ardent suitor who offered her jewelry that she refused to accept. To his dismay he threw that piece of jewelry in a creek on his way home. Oh how she laughed at the memory. The same stories were relayed to me two more times but I didn’t mind because I know that at the end she will once again laugh, sigh and laugh.
She was not only beautiful on the outside - she was more on the inside. She kept our family intact and loved us unconditionally. Writing this down is not in any way arduous as opposed to what other grieving person feel. Sharing the story of my grandmother with all of you is actually an honor. She may not be with us physically but will forever be within us. They say when someone leaves, they leave a permanent hole in our heart that will never be filled by anyone. It's true. And when that special hole throbs, I pause and picture her laughing. Still poised of course.