With Filipinos, it is customary to call your grandma “Lola”. We call my grandma “Lola Darling”.
I was very fortunate to grow up in household with two strong female role models. My Lola is a nurturing soul. After raising 5 children, she chose to help my parents raise my siblings and me. My Lola has been caring for me since I was an infant. When I was born in Japan, she stayed with my parents. When her visitor’s visa expired, she brought me with her to the Philippines. Thankfully, I was only separated from my parents for a short time. Lola joined us when we moved to Virginia when I was 2. She was present at my siblings’ births and the births of my younger cousins.
Not only did she care for my siblings and me, she was very involved with our lives. She made our favorite snacks when we came home from school and asked us about our school day. She laughed at our stories and consoled us during our disappointments. Every night, she prepared dinner for my whole family. To this day, I have not found a Chicken Adobe as good as hers. She fostered my family’s love of food. Because of her, we all equate food with love. This level of caring is not limited to my immediate family. Her generosity is legendary. She helped has helped several relatives go to college and offered room and board to others while they went to university in Manila. If she was needed, she was there.
I’d also like to think that my Lola is responsible for a large portion of my personality. I’m fairly certain I got my sense of adventure from her. When I was 4, she tried to ride a roller coaster at our local amusement park. My mom nearly had a heart attack and stopped her. She was disappointed. At the time, Lola was 72. When I discovered adventure sports in my early 20s, she would palm me some cash whenever I for a trip and when I returned she’d ask me to tell her everything and to spare no details. She would sit enthralled as I explained the mechanics of snowboarding or the thrill of rock climbing. I also developed wanderlust in my 20s. I would take trips as often as my schedule and budget would allow. If I even mentioned a trip, Lola would be there with some pocket money and encouragement to simply go. Her favorite thing to say is “Why just exist, when you can live?”.
Lola is also feisty and independent. On June 11th, Lola will be celebrating her 102nd birthday. Even at 100+, she still insists upon doing many things herself. If her eyesight were not bad, she would still cook. She also still has her wits about her. No detail has been forgotten. She knows the name and birthday of every family member and their spouses. Her storytelling skills have not waned either. Whenever I visit her, she tells me of our family’s history and intrigues.
I am unbelievably grateful to have had her in my life for this long. Because of her, I am confident and fearless.
To my Lola, I love you very, very much. I hope to age as gracefully as you have.