100-gram bags of candy, bubble tape, and meter-long chewing gums.
That small refrigerator in your room with an unending supply of chocolates.
Crossword puzzles and romantic novels.
Dasters made out of scraps of cloth.
Batik or straw slippers.
Pretty tissue hankies.
Crisp twenty-peso bills, fresh from the bank in red envelopes.
..and how you write my name as “Carla” with a “C” instead of a “K.”
These are just a few of the fond memories I have of you, Maam Lal’s. But there are also really funny ones, like, you scolding the barking dogs and cursing them because “palibhasa walang pinag aralan!”There were times when the dogs’ barking got out of hand and it really bothered me. I would wish that you’d come out to shush them. And when you do, they’d shut up, too. You were my hero, then.
Then there was also that time at home when Tito Bubu was singing a Barry Manilow song on the karaoke and you’d begged him to stop. But you said it giggling and I thought that maybe you were secretly enjoying his (embarrassing☺) exhibition of talent.
But with your grandkids it was very different. You would demand for an encore! I remember one time, Ate Beng, Kitty, my brothers and I were singing our lungs out at home with homemade musical instruments. When we finished, we noticed you were at your backyard listening to us. You asked us to continue because you liked listening to us having fun. So we did. ☺ I can also remember how much you enjoyed the short dance numbers we produced when we were younger and how you would reward us with twenty peso bills.
In Dad’s book, he wrote that you’d sewn patches on his bellbottoms. I think that out of all the essays he wrote in that book, that particular one was my favourite. But it was not because of the message of the essay. I think it was the thought that someone as poised, sosyal and as graceful as you would succumb to my dad’s kabaduyan and sew patches on his bellbottoms. You cherish your loved ones. Also, it made me think of you as a groovy granny. ☺
I have a lot of happy memories with you, Maam Lals, but the one that I would never forget is that one Sunday lunch at your house when I was still very young.
I remember dreading the day when dad would say “lunch tayo sa Ma-a ha..” It felt very awkward that time and I think I didn’t speak much, if not at all. I was at the table waiting for everyone to start eating. I placed a massive piece of ice on this thin, monochromatic glass, but it was too big to fit all the way through. So, the intelligent kid that I was, forced it down. Of course, the glass broke and I wished that the ground would swallow me up. I wanted to cry. But you immediately came to me smiling and brushed my fears off saying, “Haaay, don’t worry about that hija. Baso lang yan.” I was probably only around five or six that time but I remember how you said it so warmly and lovingly. This is why every time you called me hija, I would feel that same feeling that I felt more than 20 years ago – warm and cherished.
I wish I could have had the chance of saying to you in person how much I value you and how big an impact you had in my life. You made me feel that though we are not blood-related, I belong in your family, too. You treated me as your own granddaughter and the way you would always hold my hand and listen to my stories when I visited you made me feel that you loved me, too. That you were interested with what was happening in my life. Our last conversation on the phone was sometime in June and I hope that I somehow gave you an inkling of how much I care about you and love you. I will really miss you, Maam Laly. I wish it was possible to teleport to Davao City today.
I only have happy memories of you. I will always remember you as the lola who stuffed her grandkids with candy and laughed and clapped upon each happy story about our lives. Thank you very much for loving our family, most especially my mother and I, and for sharing your life with us. I greatly appreciate you.
I love you and you will always remain in my heart and mind.