Papang leaving us made me realise my words don’t really matter much anymore for him because he won’t be able to read, nor appreciate them. I knew he was proud of what I have become –and hopefully of what I can still be in the years to come, but it dawned upon me that I never really took the time to write to him.
I have outgrown the habit of making you DIY cards for Christmas (and all other possible occasions) as I grew up. I hate regrets, so I would not say I am sorry for the years I did not write to you. Rather, I would start writing to you again –before everything is too late.
Mang, thank you for being one cool grandmother. I always loved your stories –from how complicated our clan is, to your own insane and truly unexpected experiences.
Remember that day when I was at Nanay Corine’s wake? I was alone and my heart was terribly breaking, but you were there to stand by me. You told me the most random stories, some of them rather pointless, but you cheered me up. I was comforted by the thought that despite her passing, I still had a grandmother. I still have you.
Mang, when I was younger (especially during primary school) and I would not back down or back off when I knew I was right, or when I’d go home with bruises after standing up for myself (remember I got involved into fistfights with guys who were older and way bigger than I was), I would always get this remark: “Apo na ni Batchong, matingala pa kamo.” (That’s Batchong’s granddaughter, so you shouldn’t be surprised.) I’d like to think I got some of my guts from you, and some of them from my mom and dad, too.
I’m shy to admit this, but there were years when I was envious of my cousins because I felt I wasn’t one of your favourites. But now that I have the capacity to understand things better, I realised you loved each of us in the best manner you know how, and you went out of your way to make me feel special. You would come by our house bringing me kilos of crabs and shrimps, bags of indian mango, dozens of pomelo from the farm, jars of guava jelly and atsara and all the other things my picky taste buds could tolerate. And I miss your alupe nga mais terribly.
Sorry if I don’t get to spend time with you often, but Manong Noel promised if he wins the lottery, I can come home everyday. The problem is, he never bets. So looks like I have to cut down on my coffee expenses (or sell Papa’s roosters or Mama’s fishes perhaps ehem ehem) so I can buy more plane tickets and go home.
But really, all I want you to know is how grateful I am to be your granddaughter. You have shown us how tough you are –you’ve been our strength in this time of grief and loss, when ideally we should be strong for you. I want to be tough like you, Mang. I also want to learn how to see the bright side of things, how to continue living despite the pain of loss, and how to laugh heartily so the world will be enticed to laugh with me.
Happy birthday, Mang. I hope I make you proud.
I love you!
Coming home soon,