(5 A.M, my cellphone is ringing. Mom’s calling. She told me that Grandma’s dead. I couldn’t speak for a moment. Quite shock matter-of-fact. I let my heart cry but not my eyes. To commemorate my dear Grandma, here is the letter for her)
Dear Nanay Lyd,
It pains me to see you go. It is hard for me to think I am not going to see you again. I guess a part of me died too. All of my life you are there. Living with you for almost 22 years of existence you knew me very well.
You witnessed my first smile as a baby. Been there in my crying hour. Had changed my diapers. Washed my baby clothes. Fed me when I learn how to eat. Bathed me when I am dirty. Cleaned me when I’m all messy.
You were there when I learn my ABC’s. Clapped your hands when I learn nursery rhymes. You taught me simple words from Tagalog, English, Sambal, and Ilocano to casual Spanish. Guided my hands when I am learning how to write my name. You were my guardian on the first day I started schooling.
You were very proud when I earn medals every commencement exercises and won every declamation contests. Every family occasion, you always say I am a bright child and somehow a prodigy. You love to exaggerate things that I can do and elevate my intellectual status. (But Grandma, I am not a prodigy. Just bright enough.)
You were one of my values teacher. I will never forget those Sunday mornings with you. We were the only person inside the church coz we’re too early. You always sit in front because you don’t want to get distracted when you are praying.
You were my biggest fan. You always say I can do it and I should give my best on everything that I do. You wanted to see me act when I was casted as a lead in theatrics. You love to hear my singing voice even my vocals is already on its limit. You always compliment my cooking saying “You added little bagoong. But it’s still delicious”.
You were the first one who cries when I leave Zambales because I need to study here in Manila. You were the first one to demand for my graduation photo so you can display it in your wall. You were the first one to console me when I had not yet find a job after 1 week of hunting.
For 16 years of my childhood to adolescence period every single night, I always sleep beside you.
I was there when you had your eye surgery.
I was there when you were diagnosed of having cancer.
I was there when you had your tumor-extraction surgery.
I was there when my Uncles and Mother decided not to continue your radiation therapy anymore not because money is scarce but because you’re too fragile and old.
I was there in your hospital bed when you said “Bahala ana i Cataoan cunco.”
I am the most affected grandchild that you have now that you’re gone. You always say I am your favourite. And now that you’re gone, will it be same again? No more words to say except “Thank YOU and I will miss you (so bad)”.
Thank you. Everything I own and everything I have, somehow I owe it to you. You established a good and respected family in our little town.
Thank you for cultivating our mind into goodness and values of education.
Thank you. For the stories of World War II that made me so fanatical about history.
Thank you. That when I am still Grade 1 I had known that gabi plant produces root that can be eaten. That mango fruit can be ripen by using “calboro”.
Thank you for reprimanding me when my actions go wrong. And when I almost scratch your antique narra table. Because of that I learn how to value antiques and heirlooms.
Thank you for every 1000 peso bill that you use to hide in my bag so I can have an extra extra allowance.
I thank you for everything.
I will never forget those alay lakad and stations of the cross during Holy Week with you. You wanted me to always hold on to my Catholic faith.
I will never forget those classical, jukebox and disco music that you use to play every afternoon.
I will never forget the classic image of you. Sitting in the rocking chair, resting after cleaning your house while watching your favourite noon time show.
I will miss you watering your plants, your orchids and trimming your Bermuda grass.
I will miss you in your Sunday attires and leather foot wares.
I will miss your wrinkles and bluish eyes.
I will miss you in your thick eyeglasses as you read your doctor’s prescription.
I love you Nanay Lydia. I love you so much. Someday we’ll meet again. (Not now)
I will smile for you. I will not let other people see my pain. I will wear my BB Cream. Put wax in my hair. Wear my office suits and school uniform. But I couldn’t promise you I’ll not wear black.
Your Favorite Apo, Jojo