Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Missing Lola Sisay
". . . Her mother also came along. Her name is Teresa. Coincidentally, I had thought of Mother Teresa's ministry as one of my reasons of finding a mate from the Orient. Now, I have found out, my future wife's mother's name is Teresa."
- John Dumont Hudson, my American Uncle, describes in his book, Alligator John D: My Testimony, how he first met my maternal grandmother
She was dearly known to me and my cousins as Lola Sisay. She passed away exactly one year and six months ago when she contracted pneumonia, a common culprit that sends most elderly patients to the grave.
If somebody tagged me in a note on Facebook, asking me to say 25 Things About Myself, my No. 1 would be that my greatest influence is my maternal grandmother. I have kept this list of 25 Things in the active notes app in my mobile phone, just in case this note rotates again in Facebook.
I practically grew up with my grandmother even though I was living with my parents. They were out to work most of the time, leaving me with my Lola at home. When I look back, I believe I spent more time with my grandmother than with my mother. I am not complaining though, because my parents had to work to feed the family. I don't see that as an unfortunate event in my life because I had the greatest grandmother a grandchild could ever have.
I could go on and on describing how this noble woman created an impact in my life. She was born poor and was ostracized by the righteous community for having children with different fathers. She eventually settled with my grandfather who loved her until his last breath. When she became a widow, she worked hard and did everything she could to feed her eight children. Without the privilege of an education, she was backed up with perseverance, humility, resilience, and most of all, her undying faith in God, which I think is her greatest secret for emerging triumphant after all the unsurmountable trials she went through in her life.
While I was growing up, I could vividly remember that the first words I learned to spell orally was Lola. I could picture the scene in my mind right now, with her telling me, "L-o-l-a, Lola...," pronouncing the letters playfully and with a musical tone to them. Yes I learned to spell the word Lola first - not Mama, not Papa, but Lola.
During times when I got scolded or spanked for being mischievous, I would run to her room and cry on her shoulders. Oh how she made me feel loved and accepted. Her words, which were calmly spoken to comfort me, and make me understand why I had to be reprimanded, had a magical effect on me, like an arrow stabbed straight into my heart. She was always there, ready to listen to my dreams, my successes, even my failures.
She was senile and had Alzheimer's in her later years. During her twilight years, though she was with us physically, she was already different from the grandmother I grew up with. It is true, indeed, and I say this out of experience, that Alzheimer's disease, when it affects your loved one, robs and takes that loved one away from you, even though they are still alive, because they do not know you anymore. They don't remember your name and they don't have the slightest hint on how and why you are related to them.
She stopped holding on to dear life in the Intensive Care Unit in one of the big hospitals in our home city. She waited for me and my mother to arrive from the other side of the world, before she finally decided to go home to the Creator. She was 98 years old.
Some would say that it's okey, implying that old age is a ripe time to die. But I say, I will never be ready to lose a loved one. If old age was a ripe time to die, then why admit the elderly to the hospital when they get sick? Why don't we just leave them wallowing in sickness until they lose breath? What is the fucking point of having a Geriatrics specialty? Doesn't that specialty dedicate itself to the caring of the sick elderly? I could rant on and on and further solidify the fact that I am and will always be a failure when it comes to grieving.
I see the point that it was her time to rest. My being a failure when it comes to grieving is another point, though I am not sure if both points are mutually exclusive or not.
Battered with some frustrating events recently, I wish of only one thing. I wish I could run to my grandmother's room and find her there, just sitting on her bed, ready to listen to me as I pour my heart out. If I had the power to stop time, I'd freeze it for her, during that time when she was already old and wise, but not too old, not too weak, and not too senile, to be stolen away by Alzheimer's Disease, and worse by, death.
I have longed many times for her visit me in my dreams but she only did that once.
There is no way for me now to lay my head on her shoulders, or feel her hands touch me, or hear her words comfort me. There will always be this void that nobody could ever fill. Not even the the tears that I cried tonight - the solemn witnesses of how terribly I am missing my dearly beloved Lola Sisay.
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