My grandfather passed away yesterday. My cousin relayed the news to me on the family facebook thread. My dad called after to also tell me the news.
Each person only has two sets of grandparents. On my mother’s side, we only have our grandmother. I never knew and never saw my grandfather. On my father’s side, we had both, until recently.
It is hard to take out some memories of my grandfather because I hardly spent time with him. Two things he would always without fail ask when he sees me. “Are you Keren or KZ?” and “Where is Mr. Abesamis?” (referring to my brother). I believe, until the very last, he never did get the twins’ name right. He never did know if he was talking to me or to Keren. It was a family joke that we enjoyed.
I don’t remember the last time I saw him healthy and well. On some random trips I took to Manila maybe last year or two years ago, I’d see him at my tita’s clinic. I don’t recall if he was sick then but I did hear the usual stories from my dad and my grandmother. I remember being told by my aunt that he would leave my aunt’s house in Bulacan and go by himself to God knows where. My grandfather was very independent and always had his own world. We were never sure if he would show up at the family reunion, or the Christmas party, or the wedding. His whereabouts were always a mystery to everybody. It sounds so familiar as my dad is very much the same.
The one memory that I vaguely remember was when my lolo was making a speech during a party. He was making a toast and had gotten quite drunk I think because the next thing we knew, he raised the microphone instead of the glass. I don’t have the usual granddaughter-grandfather stories you tell people about that are inspiring and moving. It is also unfortunate that apart from the yearly family gatherings, there was very little time that I spent with him.
In his passing, I take this time to reflect on relationships and family. Yes, at our age, we have our careers set before us. We have our own, independent lives to live. My cousins are all married, one is getting married in a few days. My sisters all have their own families. Everyone is in their own path of life. We have dreams to pursue, friends to enjoy company and travel with. We visit many different places, enjoy many different experiences, make new memories every day. Yet you always come home to family. Because family is family –whether it be dysfunctional, comical, full of ups and downs. Family is family and God appointed you a member of it. Next to God, I believe family is the most important of all relationships.
And we were all left wanting. Tatay’s adobo. The political discussions during Christmas dinner. His baritone voice and jazzy soul. The jokes that only our clan will find humorous. I see Tatay in his rocking chair or by the veranda answering crossword puzzles and word search. I hear his chuckle and recall those thick eye glasses he wears. I remember his laugh when he realizes I am not Keren. I hear him sing during his 80th birthday, and I see his friends fondly remember him and his love for music.
Today, it is all silent.
Tatay Caloy, I pray you have found your peace. We love you!