23 January 2011

Precious People


By Cherrie Mae E. Aguila

Living in a place where almost everyone has gray hair makes me miss my own lolo and lola. I can’t imagine life without my grandparents. I grew up with them and they taught me many things, helping me develop as a person. For me and my siblings, their presence at home is like a given number in math—remove it and everything will not be the same.

When I was small, my lolo and lola were like my second set of parents. When we grew up to our teens, they started going through the motions of calling our intention to our mistakes and scolding us. Very often we misunderstood their intentions and got mad at them. Nevertheless, they were precious to us and still are. They are among the people to whom we give our utmost respect and love. They are very dear to our hearts.

Now that we are grown-ups, my brother, my sister and I have finally come to accept the reality that our grandparents cannot be as sharp as they were only a few years back. Unlike the good old days when we would enjoy our exchange of banters with them, attempts at having serious conversations with them are hindered by memory gaps or their inability to hear clearly, with the lapses of memory often providing a source of laughter and the loss of hearing becoming a challenge for the rest of us.

Whenever I am home, I get to enjoy their company although quite often I would flare up over some insensitive remarks grandma would make. She has a tendency to comment on something or about someone without considering the effects of her choice of words. She loves to argue about a lot of things and for the wrong reasons. She does household chores that she can no longer do well now that she is a senior citizen.

Such things really irritate me and I would snap at her without regard for the fact that old age has caught up with her.

My lolo can barely hear now and so he is silent most of the time. He still does his usual routines like reading, watching TV and doing a little carpentry, but he does all of these in silence.

The first time I noticed how quiet he had become, I felt very uneasy. I also felt very sorry for him. He can no longer join us in our meal-time conversations although I know he wants very much to take part.

One time when my grandfather and I were having lunch together, I asked him about his hometown in Cebu. He started talking about his childhood and his siblings. I could sense nostalgia in his voice as he reminisced on his parents and the things they used to do as children. He talked about his teenage years and how he roamed the city in his youth. He talked on and on about familiar places, and then he talked about World War II. He had fond memories of American soldiers for whom he worked as a part-time translator. As he reminisced on his past, I could see a deep yearning in his eyes, a longing to be able to go back once more to his old hometown. I made him a promise that one day we would do just that.

He is too weak to travel now but, who knows, we might still be able to do it.

My grandma naps almost all the time. I wonder why she seems to be always tired.

One morning when she had just awakened from her 9 a.m. nap, I asked about her childhood. I learned that she had a rough time. Their family was very poor and she lost her father when she was still very young. She had to stop studying after she had finished third grade because she had to work in order to help feed her siblings. Poverty was also the reason she married early.

Having full knowledge of people’s past helps us understand and love them. In my case, I loved my grandparents even more and it always makes me cry when I remember the times when I didn’t cut them some slack, when I didn’t care about their feelings. It breaks my heart to see them the way they are now.

The time I spent listening to their stories made me realize how important a pair of ears are to old people. These are very crucial years for them. They feel insecure and lonely. They feel the need to be heard. Listening to them is the least we can do for them and the greatest favor they will receive.

My grandparents are in their sunset years now and I intend to spend all the time I can spare laughing and just sharing moments with them. I pray that God will give me that opportunity next year.

-Youngblood (Philippine Daily Inquirer)


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