i'm coming home to say thank you, i love you and goodbye

the last time i saw her was march of this year when i went on vacation to the philippines.

she was her usual spiffy self in a shirt with studs in the shape of a ribbon which she proudly wore because it was a gift from her daughter working in taiwan. despite her old age, she braved commuting by herself from her home in taguig where she took care of her two naughty little grandsons (her daughter's children, my cousins) all the way to where i stayed with my aunt in san mateo, rizal. she was excited to see me, and i readily gave her the gifts i brought from the states. we were always generous with her because she had taken care of me and my sister when we were kids while my parents were away in the middle east for long periods of time.

she was my mom's aunt. she was our other grandmother whom we fondly called "nana." she was there in the kitchen whipping up our meals and made sure we ate them, drank our vitamin syrups (which made our pee smell like syrup), and had our afternoon naps. that's her in the photo above happily feeding my sister while i happily smiled at the camera.

i learned to love home-made spaghetti and menudo because of her cooking. her food became synonymous with being "home." she kept a watchful eye on me to make sure i didn't play in the mud outside or scraped my knee.

her favorite drink was coca-cola. she called it "coks." she was the first to volunteer to buy a liter bottle to complement our lunch or merienda. we joked that she drank the soda like water.

she always liked to dress up and wear makeup even when she only had to go to market to buy vegetables or fish. her lipsticked mouth was ready to smile when picture opportunities came. she loved to pose for pictures, and knew just how to do it!

she was born in capiz on march 27, 1928 as the eldest among four siblings. she had finished a secretarial course in iloilo and had her first job in the then newly opened ministry of labor. she traveled to polomolok, south cotabato on invitation by relatives and it was there where she met her husband who drove for dole pineapple farms. she had three children, one of whom died as an infant.

her husband later turned out to be the philandering kind--a woman from work had seduced him until their affair bore an illegitimate fruit. outraged, my nana confronted her husband and made him choose between her and the other woman. the husband chose the latter, and they separated ways. my nana fled back to capiz with her children in tow, heart devastated, and received support payments from his estranged husband until he had a new child of his own to mind.

years later, my nana went to manila and lived with my parents in a tiny apartment in pasig. we were only toddlers when my mother flew to qatar to work as a nurse. she entrusted us to nana, who lovingly cared for us in every way a grandmother could, and more. the money she got for taking care of us was what she used to help her daughter earn a teaching degree.

when we grew older, she enjoyed being on family trips to the beach, pilgrimages to pangasinan's our lady of manaoag. she's never been on a plane, and has never been to her dream destination: baguio city.

when her daughter had a family of her own, she found her hands with new toddlers to take care of, while her original wards migrated to new jersey.

when i passed a major exam a few years ago, she had mailed a simple letter congratulating me and enclosed a cut-out of a newspaper page where my name appeared on the list. she scribbled on the margin that i should thank and pray to st. vincent, her favorite saint "for all problems." whenever she could, she would send birthday cards to us and always wrote sweet messages which she ended with God's blessing and a request not to forget her.

i never realized that the birthday party i threw for her in march at a swimming resort in san mateo, rizal would be her last. she had a cute little tanktop on, and i smiled at her youthful sense of fashion. she was 80.

she had fallen ill and her body went weaker and thinner. i don't want to destroy the image i have of her by divulging the details of her passing. it pains me to write this, but i want to preserve the life she selflessly lived by creating this in her memory.

my mother, sister, grandmother (my nana's sister), and i will fly to the philippines this sunday to pay our last respects. if all goes as planned, i will accompany my grandmother to mindanao to visit her remaining sibling, my lolo kaloy whom i've never met, because of his inability to attend the funeral services in manila.

my heart grieves for your passing, nana. may your soul find eternal rest in heaven in the company of your beloved son. i owe my childhood to you. i'm coming home to say thank you, i love you and goodbye...you will always be my nana.

milagrosa valla alvarez
[march 27, 1928-november 19, 2008]

"Death ends a life, not a relationship."--Tuesdays with Morrie

15 vandalized my wall:

Marites said...

my condolences...will pray for your nana's soul. your post about her is really touching.

Sidney said...

My condolences.
Nice tribute to your nana. She must have been a wonderful person.

gingmaganda said...

my prayers are with you connie. nana is a wonderful woman who lived her life to the fullest. she is an inspiration! ingat sa biyahe, hope to see you and gladys soon =)

Anonymous said...

Napakalungkot naman ng post mo.

On a lighter side, "coks" rin ang tawag nila doon sa amin sa Negros.

Four-eyed-missy said...

*hugs* Condolence. Can't help shed a tear myself. It reminds me of my aunt who, like your Nana, took care of us when we were younger. Halong sa biyahe :)

Princess Ody said...

condolences, connie. nana must have been an awesome woman.

ms firefly said...

my condolences con. i am teary-eyed reading this, i can feel your love so much. it reminded me again of my own lolo kune.

i'm praying for your safe trip. stay strong!

Nina said...

Condolence, Connie. Your nana seems a great woman.

Anonymous said...

i'm sorry to hear about your loss. i feel your pain. my thoughts are with you and your family.

Oman said...

hugs and warm embrace!!!

fortuitous faery said...

thank you all for your kind thoughts and prayers. i do need them.

will be flying later today...will be back in december.

 gmirage said...

A very warm tribute. Hugsss and be safe back home. Take care!

shiera (bisdakbabbles) said...

Condolences fortuitous. I'm fully well aware how painful it is to lose a loved one. My prayers are with you, your family and your nana.

Vk-mahalkaayo said...

My sincere condolence to you....

Rest in Peace....amen.

old memories can´t be forgotten, always in our Mind.

you have a good Nana......

thanks for sharing.........

take care n God bless to your trip in Phils.

Joe Narvaez said...

You are so blessed to have had a Nana in your life.

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