Inang is my only surviving grandparent. Cornelia Orpia Ursua is my Mom's mother. Liling to her siblings and her contemporaries, Cory as playfully called by us, her grandchildren, has outlived many including one of her movie idols, FPJ.
Whenever I would see her, Inang often complains to me about the pains of old age. She would often say, "Matay ak san," (I must be dying.) while holding my hand. I would dismiss that and reassure her that she's way too strong for dusk.
Lately, she's been in and out of the hospital. Her body is shrinking, as an old lady would. Having difficulty to breathe often. She's long been having her mood swings and difficult behaviors, which some of her children couldn't deal with. Left in this world by Tatay twelve years ago, despite having seven surviving children and a truckload of grandchildren and great grandchildren, I could see that she is lonely most of the time. She often sits in that balcony, looking at nowhere. Watching her children and their children walk in and out of the compound.
My Mom had offered to take her to our home so she could be taken care of very well. One of my aunts even petitioned for her to migrate to the States, but after a month in Texas she couldn't stand it and flew back home. She just couldn't leave that house in Vizcaya. That house that Tatay built. Maybe there is too much memory in it. I, myself, have so much memories in that old house too.
I never had the chance to bond with my lola. As a kid, I only got to see her and Tatay whenever we would visit them from the neighboring province. As a student, I only got to see her during school breaks. Nowadays, I only see her whenever I go home during my vacation leaves. I had more memories of Tatay. He was the more involved grandparent. Inang, back then, was mostly occupied with matters of the household. It shouldn't be, but whenever she holds my hands it feels a bit awkward. It's maybe because I didn't grow up with that. But I just let her hold my hands whenever she finds them. I just let her tell me stories of how things used to be for her. Or tell me over and over how much I've grown, or ask me endlessly why I haven't settled down yet. I think she was bit concerned when she learned that I'm already 30 and still single.
When I asked my Mom how she's doing, Mom said that old age is already taking the best of her. And I knew exactly what my mother meant when she told me that she plans to sleep over at the old house to be with her mother. I hope I could also make the most of the time that could be left for my grandmother. She's like... my remaining connection to the past. Small or big role in my life, she's one of the contributors to this life I'm living. I don't have much memories with my lola - I wish I had - and I wish I could cram (and make it happen as easy as it sounds).
It pains me to write this. It's like saying goodbye, but memories or no memories, I sure ain't ready to say goodbye to Inang. Writing this is an acknowledgment of what she is in my life. She deserves every bit of gratitude I could give her. Even if in a blog that she could never read.
With her unstable health, it feels like my world is changing again. It's part of growing up, it's part of growing old. But it's painful.
I hope she gets well - not for my sake, but for her. With all that she's been through bearing and raising nine children and surviving a world war (and the headaches her grandchildren brings), she deserves every happiness she could get from this world. Every drop of it.