I just learned that my paternal grandmother passed away the other day. She was my last surviving grandparent on either side. I never really knew her. The only time I spent any quality time with her was back when I was five years old. All I remember was that she and my grandfather stayed with us for a short time back then. She cooked, cleaned, and took pleasure in shouting at my mother. Oh, and she’d give herself one of those “towel baths” in her room with the door open, which was kind of gross. I’ve long forgiven her for that. But still the nightmares come.
Even though I was never close to her, I still feel a sense of loss. It’s not the same sense of loss like when my father, Angela, or Alan died… or the sense of loss you feel when a friendship or romantic relationship is over. It’s a unique sense of loss where I feel like I could have learned so much about my father, my relatives, and everything about my ancestry through my grandmother if only we all got along. Because of all the petty differences my paternal relatives all had with one another, the knowledge I have about my own heritage is basically nothing.
My father had a tumultuous relationship with his parents. He was their star child, valedictorian in all levels of school from grade school to college. He had a promising career in Manila’s prestigious Philippine National Bank, but threw it all away when he decided to leave the Philippines for USA and marry my mother. Despite ongoing efforts of my father to patch things up between everyone, my mother, father, and I were all banished from that side of the clan. My grandfather passed away still angry at my father. The last time I saw my grandmother was at my dad’s funeral 8 years ago.
Now with my father and all my grandparents gone, my mom is all I have left, the last remaining person from whom I’ve descended. But maybe one of these days I can drag my mother away from her Fox News Channel for a few moments to talk about my ancestry, at least on her side of my DNA. So that way I can salvage a little bit of wisdom of who I am.
Rest easy, Grandma. I’m sorry I never really knew you. I wish I did. I wish I was able to have that seemingly mythical experience with you of having a grandma-grandma, like what so many of my friends always brag about. I wonder what your cookies or chicken soup would’ve tasted like. But it’s okay. Say hi to Grandpa and Dad for me. I really hope you guys are getting along better up there because that’d mean a lot to me.
It’s been a challenging couple months with ongoing opportunities to learn and grow.
I’ll be okay.