Sunday, December 31, 2017

Lola

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The flight was delayed. It meant that I’d miss lunch. I ate a cinnamon bun I intended to give as pasalubong to my parents for when they’d meet me at the airport. I slept through most of the flight. I gazed outside my window and saw that the sky was blue and the sunlight glaring. I closed the shades until the flight attendant asked me to lift it fully.

My aunt was crying over the phone just minutes before I boarded the plane. My grandmother, Lola Gloria—90 years old, the most organized woman I know, the matriarch who saw that my father grow up to be a good man—was dying. The picture of her lying unconscious on the bathroom floor struck me. I replayed Tita Beb’s panic-stricken hysteria. It made me uneasy.

I dragged my bags from the conveyor belt. Tatay helped me carry them. Nanay waited inside the car. We decided to visit Lola in Polomolok, the same house where she installed swings, see-saws, and a slide for us, cousins, her flesh and blood, whom she fed breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with snacks in between. She did not take no for an answer.

I kept watch over her the entire night. The nurses were kind. The hospital staff treated us well. Lola used to oversee the housekeeping there. No wonder why, in her Lantana home, no window was left unwiped, and the vision of dust was a blasphemy. I checked her labs, made sure her antibiotics were given on time, but didn’t realize that at around 5 am, she pulled her nasogastric tube, a fact that surprised me. She was, after all, finally moving.

But the DNI/DNR remains on her chart. We visited her after church service today. We prayed for Lola before we left. Manong said the prayers because Tatay's voice was faltering. “Lord, may you give her comfort, and if you decide to take her home, usher her into Your Kingdom.” Tatay kissed her on the forehead and whispered something to her ear. Was he saying his goodbyes? He changes topics, takes long walks, or does household chores, but he never talks about it. We saw him just like this when two of our aunts, his sisters, died. After dinner tonight, I sat beside Tatay as we sipped tea in the veranda. “Are you okay, Tay?” I asked. I handed him the honey and gave him a piece of piaya.

Lola’s favorite hymn was “Great Is Thy Faithfulness.” Even in dying, the Lord remains faithful.

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