We Learned From the Best
My parents will often compliment my sisters and me on how we treat others now that we're adults--including other family members and friends. I say that we learned from the BEST. Not just my mom and dad, but my grandparents too.
My Lola (grandma) was one of the most generous people I know, and so is my mom. My Lola and Lolo (grandpa) always emphasized the importance of education. And they sponsored many people in their schooling back in the Philippines. Along with that, every year that they returned to PI, Lola would pack huge balikbayan boxes full of treats (edible or otherwise) for our family and household help. This box-packing is a common occurrence and I remember from the two times I've traveled to the Philippines the long lines of travelers with their large boxes next to them. Mind you, the last time I traveled there was when I was 20 years old, prior to the current airport rules so I'm not sure how 9/11 has affected balikbayanboxes.
There are many things I could admire about Lola, especially today on what would have been her 96th birthday. I can admire the fact that she had a PhD, at a time when attaining a higher education for a female could not have been easy. I could admire the way she traveled the world with my Lolo, and then continued to do so years after he passed away. She lived for 17 years after him, and I can only imagine her grief. Even now, for me, she has been gone for 16 years and I miss her every single day.
What I choose to remember most and admire the most about my Lola is that generous spirit. Don't get me wrong--she wasn't perfect and she had her faults and she ALWAYS had to have her way. But, at heart, my Lola was full of love and generosity to her grandchildren, her children, and anyone she came across.
I wish you were here today to have your say about my blog, my being a doctor (even though you didn't live long enough to see me graduate med school), my parenting skills and my children. In fact, I wish you were here so Little Lion and Mini Me could get to know YOU as a person, not just through my words. I wish you were here to tell them all your stories, the lovely way only YOU could say them. And I wish you were here so I could have a Lola hug in the way only YOU could give them. I'm just going to have to be satisfied that you are up there in the clouds/heaven somewhere dancing with Lolo, and holding my little Macy in your arms. Or maybe she's an eight year old girl now, running around your housedress and laughing with you and your stories. I can only hope.
I love you, Lola, and like I said, I miss you every day.
Love, your intsik vieja or ma favorie
(Yes, among many other nicknames, Lola called me 'old chinese woman' in Tagalog. And she called each of her grandchildren her favorites. Toward her later years, she would write that to me in French and to my sister in Spanish.)
Sometimes, especially on those days when I need the most patience, I need to remind myself that what I say and do matters most to the ones I love the most, my children. Because I want them to remember me in the best light, which is how I remember my Lola, my second mother. So every day I hope for a little more patience and calmness, and every day I hope that I can leave at least a fraction of the legacy that my loved ones have left me.