If I were born ninety three years ago, I know who would be my best friend then. She'd be an amazing woman named Lydia -- beautiful and classy, smart and strong, passionate and adventurous, charming and very compassionate. I would never trade her even for Audrey Hepburn, Mother Teresa and Margaret Thatcher or all of the three combined.
I adore my grandmother so much. Today I must say that she has the greatest influence in my life. To honor her and to celebrate her 93rd birthday, I decided to leave this space on my journal to write down the very things that I learned from her.
Become the Best Version of Yourself
She wasn't the type who made me believe in unicorns and that I could become President, but Lola never stopped encouraging us to work hard, to pursue our dreams (no matter how big) and strive to become the best version of ourselves. She was a Public School teacher, married to the Principal-turned-District Supervisor that was my grandfather (whom I never met); and they both believed in Education more than anything. I remember back then, when she was in the US,she forwarded all her Readers Digest subscription (w/c I never really appreciated as a kid hee!), sent lots of books and whatever learning materials that might be useful to me. She’d always remind me, "Always read, never stop reading. Never stop learning..."
“Lola, teach me how to crochet.”
“Okay. I will if you teach me how to do that Facebook.”
Live for a Purpose
“I really wonder why God has not taken my life yet; there must be a purpose why I am still here on earth, there must still be some mission, or some things that need to be done.”
So, there she goes... From building a small clinic to a small cage for her love birds, she never kept herself sitting pretty. At the age of ninety, you'd still find this woman around the hood, helping her friends tend their gardens. Not only did she successfully raise all of her eight children; to this day, she'd raise chickens, ducks, dogs to bunnies -- hahaha, because there must always be a project.
Never Get Tired of Serving Others
I vividly remember how excited I was when she brought a big balik-bayan box filled of teddy bears that she knitted for years, then handed me only one piece. Before I even got disappointed, she told me that she filled her box of joy, and the rest of the bears must be brought to the other kids in our community. She believed that even the littlest things always make a huge difference.
“Last night, I prayed for a real good man for you... *Laughs out loud!* But then, I realized that many people still benefit from the things that you do while you are still single now. So maybe not yet…”
Seek God above all else.
If there is one thing that I thank her for; that is for sharing the love of God, and more importantly, her love for God to me. She was the one who named me Angel, as she believed that I was a miracle baby. The doctor had informed my mother that she’s infertile; nevertheless, my grandmother never ceased praying and asking God for my mom to bear a child. I became that answer to her tireless requests to God. A part of me always believed that her faith moved heavens, perhaps God himself, to make my life possible here on earth. She somehow convinced me that such grace and favor entails greater mission and greater responsibility to live life to its fullest. She gave me my very first Bible when I was only in kindergarten, and had given me two more Bibles and told me that it’s her ultimate secret to long and joyful life. My grandma never appeared like an ultra-religious annoying old lady. In fact, I carefully heed all her advice and wisdom, because her life loudly speaks of all of it…
Lord, today, I thank you for granting me the chance to witness one of your fulfilled promises. This woman is an epitome of grace and beauty – one who has greatly benefited from your faithfulness. Now, while I can’t even fathom how it has been like to live almost a century with You, I celebrate all wonderful years in her life, the more wonderful life in her years and above all, I celebrate how most wonderful you have been and you are to her. Amen!