Thursday, July 22, 2010

The biggest heartbreak

I have an hour to "steep" in before the billing office opens...

It's too short a time to read "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest" and really enjoy, and it is too long a time to just watch TV.

The best choice to spend it? Why, blogging, of course.

How have all of you been? Me, I've seen better days, but life is like that, it's a series of ups and downs and happy moments and sad...a collection of moments that paint us a picture of our human experiences.
Lola and Lolo, out on the porch with their Sunnies. January(?) 2010.

Thanks for all your heartwarming messages, I was really touched. I suppose I've gotten over the hurt of losing my grandfather, but I will sorely miss him. There is a pang of sadness everytime I think about him, but I've consoled myself with the fact that he was old, and emphysema was giving him a hard time, and after all that pain he had to go through, it was time for a much-needed rest.

The emptiness and loneliness haven't sunk in, yet, as the family house is still filled with people coming in and out, visitors that stay for a while to share pleasantries and reminisce over coffee, and the family gets together for dinner every once in a while.

My cousins and I have come to the surreal state of thinking that it seems that Lolo is just sleeping somewhere, and that things will go on, like he was still there, that reassuring presence that everything was going to be fine. My littlest cousin Nate believes that Lolo will one day come back in a space ship. He goes to mass in the afternoons with my Mommy Tit and asks her to pray that Lolo will come back.

We are all coping, I suppose.

I have no idea where Lolo would be, and I have no firm belief in spirits wandering around, looking over their loved ones, but sometimes I like to think that his memory and his love will be like a reassuring presence, a force you can "call on" when you need it. (Now my eyes are misting over, without my meaning to.) I suppose this little hollowness that I feel will be filled eventually as I grow older...or if it doesnt, it becomes a permanent part.

For the most part, I feel very lucky to have had the coolest grandfather any little girl could ask for until I got to my ripe old age of 28. In my eulogy, I said that there were only two things that could really break my heart, and those were funerals and goodbyes. At that afternoon's funeral, as we celebrated my Lolo's life, I mused to the audience that this was probably the biggest heartbreak of all, because it was the funeral of my one and only, coolest lolo, and it was also a last and final goodbye.

Speaking of heartbreaks, my grandfather was there for me during a recent one. I was a bit younger back then, and just sitting out quietly on the porch with him one afternoon, I decided to tell him about how it was like to be hurt and disappointed and angry it was over things that go wrong. He just listened quietly, my Lolo was like that. Always calm, reassuring, and never judgemental. He'd never scold, and my gosh, he was always effective anyway. He always knew what to say, and his words of advice were always effective.

"It is ok," he said, and he told me that things like these did happen, and that someday, I was going to be happy again. (He was right.)


My grandfather was a great person to talk to about different stuff. He always came up with great advice. School decisions, financial advice, relationship advice, you name it. One time, when I was watching him in the ICU, I brought my laptop along and told him stories, showed him pictures, and gushed about so-and-so...I think he was entertained by my antics and anecdotes because he'd smile and laugh along too. :-p

I don't remember exact quotes, and i can't say anything verbatim, but all I know is that he was a good person. He thought the world of his family (8 children, and 14 grandkids in all) and was always concerned about integrity and doing things the right way. He was a religious and spiritual man, but he never imposed that we strictly follow tradition. Yet, we'd always find ourselves being together for the holidays, and even participating in the long walk of the Via Crucis when Holy Week came around (it was a long walk).

Some of my cousins and me, for Christmas. December 2010. (The big tarp at the back is the family collage my cousin Chris had made.)

My cousin Lemuel remembers fondly how, when he brought his girlfriend Pat to meet Lolo for the first time, he was in his hospital bed, and with a twinkle in his eyes, he asked, "So, do you two have an understanding, already?" (He wanted to meet her, and promptly called her to his room). Val, doesnt always come to visit because of her condition, but Lolo is always concerned about her. My brother Dondon is normally reserved, but he and lolo always have long conversations (he was good with people)...Laurie is away in the US, but Lolo always sends his concern for her...Christo, was always around for Lolo, he was the designated driver...Russell got the first ever scolding, because one afternoon when we were kids, he took a slingshot and shot one of Lolo's chickens (that was the only time he ever raised his voice at us, the rest of the time, we were spoiled. No belts, no yelling. ever.)

Ginggay remembers him to be a warm person who was always entertained by her stories about Mindanao, which she told with gusto (at 6 years old, considering she's never been there).Ruville, one time had a one-line role in a school presentation. My Lolo travelled a considerable distance by bus just to see her perform, in her itty bitty kindergarten dress, "F is for Fresh Flowers..."He was proud of us, like that. Angerae, a nursing student right now, went to lolo for advice, career and otherwise, and she said that he always was right. She also remembered that he loved to laugh, and would even play practical jokes.

 Angel's favorite memory of him was that in the afternoons, he'd ride his bicycle, his straw hat on his head, his scythe with the wooden scabbard would be at his side, tied to his waist with a bit of rope, or that he'd be pulling the carabao/cow along (he had some when we were younger), Jesse Rex, would house-sit whenever Lolo was away for check-ups, always the good boy, Miguel would entertain Lolo with his antics, and Nate, well, he probably spent the most time with Lolo.

Lola and Lolo and Nate. January (?) 2010.

They were close, and even without saying much to each other, he and Lolo were like best buddies. He was very affectionate with Lolo, was very thoughtful, and would just come up and stroke Lolo's beard and say, I love you Lolo, or "I miss you Lolo", in the loving and innocent way a child shows his affection. Lolo would brighten up whenever he saw him come home from Cebu or even when he was smuggled in the ICU when Lola was still admitted.  Although he was the youngest (at 4), he was never wanting for a grandfather's love.

It was an hour well-spent, I suppose. I'll always miss my grandfather, I suppose, but it sure does help to be able to talk about it to people who care. It's a good way to cope and adjust, my easiest way how.

Thank you.

at the cemetery, July 17,2010.


  1. I feel for you.

    One of my greatest regrets is not being there during their best years. I was away when my grandfather died, and I am away again now. I know I can change it, but I know they understand why I am doing this.

    Talking about these things always makes me teary-eyed, but I guess life is like this - you can't always be happy nor sad.

  2. "Those we hold most dear never truly leave us...they live on in the kindness they showed, the comfort they shared and the love they brought into our lives."

    --Isabel Norton

    I understand the surreal helps. It's not denial exactly, just a reprieve from focusing on that one thing so you can accomplish some everyday-type things--cooking, taking a shower, whatever. I did that when my mom died.

    I didn't know my dad's parents, they both passed long before I was born. But I did get to spend time with my mother's parents.

  3. I suspect your Lolo's barrel chested physique, even in old age, was not just a result of Emphysema. His easy demeanor reminds one of gentle hunks (cool shades, bythe way.) Strong Muscles must have hung on that frame still hinting at the strength of his character.

  4. @Nathan Manila: Thank you, and I appreciate it. We just have to be thankful that we even got to spend the time that we did with them. I'm sure they don't expect us to be around every moment...but understand that we have our lives to lead. That's the beauty of having great grandparents (and a great family), you can go off into the world without trepidation, knowing full well that whatever happens, you'll always have something to come back to.

  5. @Ric: That quote was just very well-put. that's exactly how I's like, you lose someone very dear, but they aren't totally gone, you'll always have their memories... Thanks Rick.

  6. @Doc TK: :-) yeah, Lolo was a hardworking man, he wasn't a softie. The muscles and the integrity (sans muscles) made him a real man.

    Still, 85 is a ripe old age na, emphysema or none, di ba?

  7. great way to honor your grandpa! nice post



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