Tuesday, November 1, 2011

An ode to my lolo (grandpa) for All Souls Day

It's November 1, a day where everyone here in the Philippines honors the dearly departed by laying flowers on their graves and hanging around in the cemetery all day.  I thought, growing up in the states, that this was a weird Filipino tradition, until my dad suddenly died and then I started to understand how nice it was to do so (and Oro Gardens having a cute playground for the kids doesn't hurt, either).

Now Jhean's maternal grandmother died recently, and she's now driving all the way to Talisayan with her dad so that they can lay flowers on the stones of her paternal grandparents. 

Jhean is newly grandparent-less, her maternal grandmother being the last of the four.  I've been grandparent-less for a while now.  You've already seen my blog entry about my dad, now allow me to use this blog, as it's All Souls Day, to give an ode to my grandfather, who was the last of my grandparents until he passed away three years ago.  Enjoy:

This is one blog that’s pretty difficult to write.  My lolo (Filipino for “grandpa”) Trinidad, the father of my mom, passed away last night, just a few days shy of his 91st birthday.  He was a lion of a man.  He had many skills and was able to not only provide for his kids’ needs, but was able to mold them into successful people.  Every one in my mom’s generation and mine are doing well for themselves, and all the married ones have remained married (I know that just sounded weird, but it seems every family has at least one member who has gone south in these areas, but by God’s grace…and likely lolo’s training, the family has been spared).  Now that’s being a great grandpa. 
   
Being away for so long, I wasn’t able to spend a lot of time with him, but since he and my lola often visited us in the states, some memories were made.  Easily the most memorable experience was when I had my 2nd lung operation and my parents had to work.  Who nursed a hurting teen back to health?  Lolo.  It was awesome how he fed me and spent time with me.  We’d watch hours of tennis and debate who was better, Andre or Pete (although both of us were Agassi fans).  His great service sure made the post op pain bearable.  I didn’t need my medications that much.
 
Another great memory was when he bought me a car, then took it for a drive with me at the passenger side.  Being the good American driver, I always followed the lines and stop signs and all that.  But where lolo came from, lines are just for decoration (in fact, he didn’t know they were lines until I screamed it out to him).  So you can imagine an old man driving Filipino style in an American suburb, with me screaming my head off at first then assuming the fetal position later.  Well, let’s just say that lolo would be proud of the way I drive now (I can’t wait to drive my Fil Am friends around…now they’ll be in the fetal position).

Here are some other great memories of my lolo:
 
  • Me as a little kid (probably Mesoo’s age now) slamming the car door on his hand.  Ouch.
  • Me as a newly minted teen being totally embarrassed that an old man beat me 6-0, only for me to thrash him with the same score in the rematch (was he taking it easy on me?). 
  • The family going up Mt. Baldy, with my dad driving and my lolo in the passenger side.  Me being the impatient kid, I asked the usual “are we there yet?” questions.  My lola then said, “Yes we are.  (pointing to the window) Here’s the Mt. (then pointing to the back of lolo’s head) there’s the baldy”.  That made my day.
  • When I was a little kid, I once asked “Lolo, are you loaded?” (“loaded” being an American figure of speech for having lots of pocket money).  My mom relayed the story one day, and so when lolo came to visit, it was the grandkids (Lynn in particular) who asked “Super lolo, are you loaded?”, much to his amusement.
  • The loaded super lolo treating all the great grandkids to Hong Kong.  The little ones had a fantastic time, but it was the first time for me to see lolo so weak as he trailed behind the rest of us in Ocean Park. 

There were so many others, but that’s all I can think of right now.  Is the family sad?  Am I sad?  Maybe we should be sad because we lost the family patriarch and a dear friend.  But he’s free.  Free from his feeble, nearly 91 year old fleshly body that tired every time he climbed the stairs and limited his walking to a slow crawl.  Free from the irritating tube that fed him for so long.  And best of all, he’s walking down streets of gold, basking in the glorious presence of our Creator.  If anything, that should make us happy.  He’s in the greatest place in all creation, and here I’m stuck in the Philippines.
 
So goodbye my lolo, my friend.  You weren’t perfect, but I’ve never seen another grandparent measure up to you.  I hope that I’ll be to my children what you were to my mom and her siblings; and I hope I’ll be to my children’s children what you were to me…and those are huge shoes to fill.

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