One year ago, a great woman passed on. She saw through the hardships of the Second World War and lost her husband. Single-handedly, she raised her six children. She brought them up to become good parents to their own children. She saw to it that her grandchildren knew the value of being of service to others, of contributing, of simply being there for others. In silence, she said, there is strength - veiled, but still there.
She was my grandmother.
It has been a year since we said goodbye to her. She was in her 90s.
A lot of people said that she's lived a full life and that we shouldn't worry too much because she is now in a better place.
But I still cannot help but miss her.
When she picked me up from school at 12 when I was in grade 1, how she would sit on her rocking chair listening to my travails on the piano, how she would encourage (read: force ;D) me to go to church at 8am on Sundays...
I never managed to say goodbye.
And until now, I still cannot say that word. Because she is still in my heart. And in my memories.
When things are rough, I think of what she would say.
"Just go on; God will find a way."
"There is a reason why you're in that situation - either you chose to be in there or God put you there for a reason. Regardless, it doesn't matter. Just do what you're supposed to do."
"Don't spend too much money on things that are not important. And besides, money isn't everything."
Last time I went home to see her, I bought her a necklace - a nice one and a far cry from the rosaries that I would buy her at the monastery of Sta. Clara. She declined; keep it, she said. Save the money, she said.
Before Alzheimers got her, she would badger me about getting married and having someone to take care of me. Because "when I am gone, who is going to wake you up on Sundays so you can go to church at 8am?"
I always replied, "there's always the alarm clock" - to which she would answer "pilosopo..."
Then we lost her to Alzheimers.
Conversations on the phone became rare. My visits, even rarer.
Then she was gone.
Dear Mamang -
I still miss you. I am so sorry I wasn't there to see you go. I wasn't there to play you a song on the piano. Remember that Pamulinawen that you usually sang along with? Or that Manang Biday? or Vizcaya's Song?
I miss you so, so much.
I wish I were still in grade one. You'd always pick me up, buy me stuff, bring me to school, help sew my buttons on my white shirt...
I wish I were still that young boy playing beside your sewing machine whilst you see curtains, dresses and other stuff for the house.
I wish I were still that young boy who you'd scold when I'd spend all my allowance for the week in one day.
You will always be in my heart.
You rest now.
We'll see you again.
I love you.
Agyamanak, Mang. Haan ka nga malimutan. Haan ka nga pabayaan. Haan ka nga maawan itoy panunot ko. Uray pay awanak itta balay, itta Solano, adittoy ka - ittoy pusok.