Mamang Gertrudes

I was preparing for work when I got a call from one of my cousins telling me that our grandma died – my late father’s mom. It was sudden, like how my father was in the same hospital who died ten years earlier. It was just a month ago since we’ve last seen her, and there was no hint of any disease in her. She was so well. I had to get home.

I just remembered when one of my students would fake her grandma’s death just to have an excuse for missing an exam. Though it seldom happens, it is a disgusting joke, not too much maybe, unless if she died years ago. I wonder why grandmas oftentimes become the victims of such excuses. Grandmothers aren’t supposed to be taken for granted in this way. They are as important as our moms and deserved to be loved like how we love our moms.

Mamang & Me

Mamang & Me

If there’s a person who have loved us most first besides our parents or God, they’re our grandmas. While our mom is in pain of birthing us, grandmas has their greater concern and excitement directed to the incoming grand-baby – to finally see us. They knew it anyway that our mom can get through it fast and easy. When my mom gave birth to me, it was mamang (my lola Gertrudes) who took care of me and my mom for a month, while mom was regaining her strength. She further took care of me too when mom was able to go to work. I had known my other lola when I got older but it was mamang that I remember during my earlier years.

Grandmas tend to be better “moms” to their grandchildren. Who would we more likely to go to when scolded by our parents? Or get bullied? Or had a scratch for being playful? Or if there’s a toy you want to have? Who would give you a shirt or a short pants even if you didn’t ask? It would be our grandmas. Their cares for our parents extends to us too and sometimes even more.

It was my privilege to be taught first by mamang the song “tap tap tap” which is about the falling rain and blooming flowers… She smiles at me when I wake up with wet pants even if it was the third or fourth time… She turns the cooked rice into rice balls molding them in her palms just to cool them down before giving it to me… I would find and stay with her when I am being left out or felt bullied by my older cousins… I do not know if I was naughty as a kid but I never remember her scolding, spanking or shouting at me…

A Ricefield in San Julian, Tabuk Kalinga

A Ricefield in San Julian, Tabuk Kalinga

To get home, I waited for 15 hours at the airport for my next flight to Tuguegarao. Waiting at the boarding gate, the flight was cancelled. I decided to take the bus. I waited again for six hours before the bus took off. After sitting for eleven hours, I was home. My supposed smart shorter travel plan from Puerto Princesa city to Tabuk turned out to be the longest ever.

I arrived at mamang’s wake with no tears of mourning. It was just pure sadness that I felt, but masked with joy caused by seeing my families altogether in one place, and of a believer’s assurance that our grandma is in Heaven. Everybody had a peaceful grief. It was her last night and services from several Christian churches are lined up. The night was full of joyful singing and sermons about God’s redemption and of hope and encouragement against life’s challenges. It actually was a service offering to all the living. It was also a time to remember and share our best memories of our mamang. Everyone had their own precious story. Each one’s experience with our mamang was like a treasure that has its highest bid at the moment. I was glad to be home again.

Papang vigils for mamang

Papang vigils for mamang

After mamang was buried and I was preparing to go back to Palawan again, I was sadder. The truth that I am about to go away again far from my roots started to percolate through my senses. It even brought other matters that made me assess my relationship with my mamang. I had regrets, that in the prime of my life, I wasn’t with her; Didn’t talked much to her; Didn’t gave her any or done anything to show my gratitude for all those years. But as I forgive myself, I know that it may have mattered to her and everyone, but mamang had much. She had so much around her. Proverbs 17:6 says that “Children’s children are a crown to the aged, and parents are the pride of their children.” She also lived a happy full life for Seventy seven years. The book of Psalms 90:10 says, “As for the days of our life, they contain seventy years, or if due to strength, eighty years..”

I finally shifted my faculties to my regular life’s routine aboard a bus, taxi and plane. Death can be sudden. When its season comes, it is inevitable. As I write this, Paul Walker just died unexpectedly and Nelson Mandela unsurprisingly. The truth is, what defines a well lived life, is a life lived for Christ. What truly matters for everyone to answer in the end is, where will you spend your life after earth?


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