June 30, 2013

Remembering Lola

Posted in Uncategorized at 14:37 by Miracle

Up to this day, I vividly remember the night I embraced Lola Noning, my paternal grandmother, and felt two very strong heartbeats from within her thump against my own chest.  That was the last time I would ever have the chance to embrace her because, sadly, the two distinct heartbeats that I literally took to heart were to be her last.

At 92, Lola Noning passed away in my arms that night in 2007 while her children, daughters-in-law, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren surrounded her.  Even though the memory haunts me until now, I feel strangely thankful for being able to say goodbye to her in that manner – to have been there at her very last breath, to have been given a chance to let her know how much she was appreciated and loved before she went.

When her health began to waver, those around her suddenly became self-professed nurses and doctors on call, and now I recall with amazement that all of us even learned how to operate the old-fashioned sphygmomanometer just to be able to monitor her blood pressure.  We took turns in feeding her and staying by her side during her last months with us. I also remember how we, cousins, would camp around her room discussing and laughing about her idiosyncrasies and then she would sneeze or cough to let us know that she knew we were talking about her.  Even though her hearing and eyesight failed her every now and then, her mind remained exceptionally alert up to the end.

As elderly people are wont to do, there was a time in her life when she felt underappreciated and she somehow ended up sleeping over in my room for about a month.  It was then that I understood and saw her clearer; it was then that I saw her soft and vulnerable side beyond the authoritative, critical, and headstrong woman that I had always recognized since I was a child.

I was far from being the perfect granddaughter.  Lola Noning and I disagreed on a lot of things and I was not afraid to speak my mind.  She was aware and wary of my brutal frankness even when I was still a little girl.  Nevertheless, she herself was living proof that I evidently came from a line of strong women where feeble spirits and characters do not seem to have a place, and she was cognizant of that.

She was an educator, a musician, president of a number of organizations, and an extraordinary woman who was fated to balance two teaching jobs and raise three children single-handedly when her husband died in an accident while she was still pregnant with my papa, her youngest son.

If the reader is wondering why I am bringing her to mind all of a sudden, it might surprise the reader to know that my Lola, Antonina O. Romano but “Nanay Noning” to almost everyone else, composed the official Dipolog City March that you may often hear during the festivities of our city’s centennial celebration this month.

It would have pleased her to know that the City Government of Dipolog commissioned the Manila Symphony Orchestra to orchestrate and perform it last year.  She would have been very thrilled.

As I write this, however, I smile pensively at the thought that the cutlery sets she reserved for my wedding continue to gather dust somewhere in our kitchen cupboard.

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