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A Never Ending Thanks To Grandparents

Ever experienced being grounded by you own parent only to find out that the terms of discipline had changed? Personally I never did but if you ask my kids, they will attest that such incident did  not happen just once and that they are thankful they have my own mother to run for their rescue. Not that my mom meddled every now and then and even though my kids all grew up with her in the same household she had learned through the years when to let her presence felt and when to step back. Besides she knows how independent and hard headed her grandkids that taking a firm stand had helped a great deal in bringing them up with their feet planted on the ground.

Contrary to my kids upbringing, my grandmother( my dad’s mom) had lived next door  where I only get to see her mostly during afternoons after school and who only visited us when she watched her favorite Sunday TV Mass. My sister and I  would fetch her favorite gardener, Cynthia, also a relative so she could water and take care of her plants This grandma of mine had a green thumb and had lots of roses and bougainvilleas, all lined up in pots. Funny what motivated me and my sister every afternoon to follow her orders was the incentive we got in fetching Cynthia, a ten centavo coin where we can get to buy our choice of candy. There was even a time that this grandma of ours gave me a raincheck for being included on the top five of my 1st grade class. A whooping 200 Php which I gave to my dad so he could keep it and just give me the money I needed each time I bought my favorite candy or bubble gum.

On the other hand my mom’s mom we call Lola Oyang was the independent and proactive grandma who we only visited during school breaks. She chose to stay in her hometown where she grew up that we literally have to take two provincial busses and a ship to get there. And since traveling and having a vacation would entail a lot of money, we cannot visit her very year. I could recall visiting  her place three times, the last one being the saddest as that was the year she had crossed over.

My kids also never got the chance to see and be with any of their grandfathers and just like me, they grew up not knowing how it felt to have a grandfather by their side. Though they do have a grand uncle who they get to visit during Christmas, it never really mattered if they grew up without one. But there were days that they could not hide their excitement and longing when I told them stories about my dad, his lone brother who is still alive and who will return for a homecoming next year.They might have all grown up but the yearning could not be hidden especially with the knowledge that they still have a grand uncle that they would finally meet after all these years.

 At times I ask myself where all the excitement and yearning come from considering they were lucky to have grandmothers who took care and watched over them since they were kids. Perhaps it is the fact that one can never get enough of being loved, appreciated, affirmed, remembered and taken cared of. A feeling of home, belongingness, accepted and nurtured that one will always look forward at the end of the day. An unforgettable, unexplainable feeling that will always remind you of childhood and all the happy and good memories that went with it. An unending smile that lighten one’s face each and every time you think of them.

                                My Mom with my two sisters in law and some of her grandkids

You know what I think of people who have known at least one grandparent in their lives? I think of them as blessed. It takes a lot of undying courage and love to look after ones’ grandchildren despite the  unending battle with age, illness and empty nest challenges. At times grandparents chose to live longer because they know they are needed still, that some broken pieces of their lives needed to be fixed still and they knew that making it up with their grandkids is their ow special way to heal it.

This  Sunday, September 8th is National Grandparents Day. Take time to greet them or any grandparent for that matter. A simple act like offering a seat, showing them directions, assisting them while they take the stairs mean a lot to them. One can never go wrong in thanking and remembering grandparents even in simple ways because they are such a blessing.

Lucky are we who have felt such love from our grandparents.

Through The Years

I told my mom that there will be a medical mission near our place where people can have their usual laboratory tests- uric, blood sugar, urinary and what have you at a discounted rate. She immediately told me to have her registered . She added, “Take care of the registration fee and I will give it back when I get paid.”

I can not help but smile on how smart that sounded. My mom had gone back to tutoring kids. In our place, where word gets around easily, she was always referred to by other people as “the  old woman who had a reputation for teaching, ” a profession that she had always been proud of until now. It was not just her bread and butter, but her vocation,  just like motherhood.

My mom came from a dysfunctional family.  Being the eldest of 3 kids, she had learned the word responsibility at a young age. She once mentioned that there were days that she wanted to come out and play but instead  stayed indoors to look after her siblings. Good thing she loves to read. Perhaps she may have not realized it then but it was by reading where she met many friends, gone into places , and where she started building her dreams.

And that was what she did.

Every time she went to school she made sure she excelled.  Every task given to her , she gave her  110 per cent. She was  focused, driven and pro active. It did not matter if she had to cross a river just to study when she was in high school or  tutor her landlady’s kid just to pay for her rent when she was in college. She wanted to become a lawyer, an ambition that was far fetched at that time because they can not afford it , so she chose teaching instead, but  made sure, she will not just be any ordinary teacher.

She left her hometown when she married my dad. She was barely 23 years old then, perhaps even younger. She was obliged to learn a dialect she never knew and get along with people, including those that were hard to deal with. Enviousness,  perhaps runs  in every family circle, negative traits that my mom have no time for. To her, every man is basically good, and  it is his choices that makes  him what he is.

Mom has always been a source of inspiration to me and my kids

It was not surprising that my siblings and I had fared well in school. I thought then that was because  my mom taught in the same  school where we went to. When all of us had gone to other schools, even stopped schooling for a while, especially in my case, I found that it was not true. She tells us often  not to stop reading and to continue learning, be it watching informative shows or meeting people. She also  reminds us to remain humble of one’s achievements and to always look back at one’s humble beginnings.

There had been a year when my mom had been in and out of the hospital due to multiple strokes. My family  knew that she was not getting any  younger. That things were not the same as they used to  especially now that she has diabetis and osteoporosis. Year 2009 had been a bad year for all of us.We lost our eldest brother  due to a heart condition. All of us had been devastated especially my mom. All of us could not believe that my brother had gone too soon. We were worried  that she might  not be able take it all.

But my mom had never been a quitter. She had always faced life heads on. A few days after my brother’s cremation, she told one of my  daughters, that she  does not want to live in a hospital anymore.  That she is still needed especially now  that my brother left a wife and 3 sons. Besides, if she was able to move on when my dad left us ,  she can not see any reason  why she can not do that again.
And so that’s what she did but this time, she did more than that.

Mom and I enjoying a cozy afternoon with our relatives

She decided to be productive by accepting tutorials even though she was underpaid. She continued to be active in our place’s’ senior citizens group where she used to be the auditor, but now the vice president which worries me at times because that would mean more responsibility to the group, in which, she just gave me, a deaf ear. Lately, I have learned she attended birthday parties of other senior citizens’ members, even telling me that  she had worn the blouse I gave last Christmas.  She had never stopped reading that she  knows Harry Potter very well after reading all seven books. And never grew tired of knowing Dan Brown, James Patterson and Patricia Cornwell thru their novels.

Life had been kind to my mom. Financially we may not be well off, but  both mom and dad made sure my siblings and I were brought up with the things that really matter. Basic things like the times spent with each other, stories and laughter  shared, and the freedom to know and learn what life is all about. To be good in one’s  chosen field, and by paying things forward  especially to those who need it. It may not have been  much, even trivial to others, but as we go along our lives, when most  of the people who matter had gone before us, we may realize that it is not  the fancy, worldly  things,  that you long for, but the very simple ones that you want to take back,  hoping that this time it may not be too late.
My mom just turned 77  last January 20th. When I talked to her  over the phone, she said that my daughters’ classmates had read my blog and mentioned how they liked it. She added that she will find the time to read it,  now that she knows what a blog is.  And that really made me smile.

In fact, it really made my day.

A Gift Never Forgotten

Whenever I ask my kids about gifts , I give them choices. That way I can be sure the gift bought will be within my budget and at least I have the time to prepare myself.

Like when I asked them “which gift do you prefer this coming Saturday? A trip to the mall or a new dvd player.”and the answer will be unanimous. “A new dvd player,” when I thought it would be a trip to the mall.

When I ask them why, they would reply,”because a day in the mall is good for one day where as with a new dvd player, we can watch all day.”

Kids.

I usually tell them they are still lucky because back when I was a kid, I never had the opportunity to choose. In fact,  I seldom get  gifts until that day my Aunt (and godmother from CA) sent me a birthday package.  It was a Minnie Mouse wrist watch, 70’s edition. It was also the first time I had a watch. And just like any other kid, I was so curious how it work. So I tinkered with it and  played with Minnie Mouse’s hands which serve as the watch’s hands. I was so interested because Minnie’s hands never got tired of moving so I played with it.

Clockwise, counterclockwise, counterclockwise, clockwise.

I would  listen to its tic tac sound, putting my wrist near my ear. I was just amazed and even hoped that Minnie’s Mouse would turn as well. I was enjoying with my gift which I turned into a toy. Until one day, my Dad noticed and told me that if I will not stop playing with Minnie’s hands, she will grow tired and  not move anymore. And  since I was just a kid, I did not listen. Until one day the watch stopped working.

I never knew what happened with the watch after that, I might misplaced it or threw it away. I was too young too care.

Then one day as  I was cleaning our old cabinets, something caught my eye that looked familiar. An old Minnie Mouse  wrist watch whose hands and its bracelet both,  now gone. Turned out it was my old watch, my childhood gift that I had  turned into a toy. My Dad must have kept it all those years because he  keeps things that matter to him,  especially if it was a gift. He had valued the thought behind the gift , but more so, the memories that  went with it. Since he had no means to buy me a Disney watch at that time, left alone any watch, because we were very poor, he just left me play with it, letting me enjoy my curiosity as a kid, hoping that one day I would remember.

In which I did.

Now that I have kids, now that I have long learned the value of giving, I have learned how precious that wrist watch was .Not only was it a collector’s item, which I never thought at that time, but how timeless and priceless that gift has become that I shared that story to my kids.
I still kept that watch. Though my Dad had been gone for 24 years, my Aunt still lives in CA together with my Uncle who is my Dad’s younger brother. And yes, my Aunt still remembers me especially during Christmas. And every time she sends me a gift , there will be her handwriting which I remember vividly  as a kid. And that always bring a smile to my face because after all these years  she remembers me still. Just like the old Minnie Mouse wrist watch  that I have kept,  and  will never be forgotten.

(Image Credit:  Bradley  Minnie Mouse)