The soft light of the sun filtering through the filmy white curtains in our temporary room caused Little One to stir in the morning. Our morning routine while in San Jose would be getting up early, having a Filipino breakfast prepared by great-lola’s helpers, showering, and getting ready for our commute to a neighbouring city to visit great-lola in the hospital.
At the time, my mom, aunts and I were pretty much on auto-pilot. We were just living day to day, traveling by jeepney (and sometimes out of the kindness of loved ones, by vehicle) to and from the hospital.
Thinking about our experience, I now wonder what exactly was going through the mind of my three year old. The extreme heat of the Philippines, the heavy smell of diesel…the sights and scents were totally foreign to my little girl. Being dragged around to spend her days in the hospital, and hearing a language foreign to her didn’t really seem to faze her at all. She was a trooper and happily went about doing her thing.
After long days at the hospital, Little One would often explore great-lola’s beautiful house and find treasures.
She took these back to Canada with her to remember great-lola.
Today, I caught Little One sobbing into her pillow. The tears streamed down her cheeks as she cried, “I don’t want great-lola to be dead!”
I noticed that she was clutching onto the Nesting Dolls she brought back from the Philippines. They were a gift one of my aunts had given my grandmother. My aunt, having worked for Air Canada for many years, often brought back trinkets from her travels. These are the only tangible items Little One has to remember her great-grandmother by. It surprised me how one so young could comprehend so much and feel so much. It brought tears to my eyes.
The odd thing is that no one had even spoken about my grandmother passing away and Little One just burst out into tears, hugging the wooden nesting dolls.
Ironically, today my Grandmother would have turned 92 years old. It still breaks my heart to think I’ll never again be able to hold her hand or hear her tell her stories of life in the Philippines.
Still missing you, great-lola.