I work for an American-owned company that celebrates Thanksgiving. So even though tomorrow is just another typical day here in Manila, I’ll be on holiday like the folks in the U.S. and I’m grateful to have an extra day of rest.
I’m also taking this time to thank the universe for the gift that was my grandfather. We lost him earlier this month and, although it wasn’t a shock, his passing was a life-altering event that brought with it unspeakable grief as well as infinite grace. He and my grandmother helped raise me and eased the burdens of single parenthood that my mother had to bear at a young age. I lived with my lolo and lola until I was 17, so it’s safe to say that I was shaped by what I learned from and through them.
I have many loving memories of my grandfather but the one I hold dearest is of him teaching me how to ride a bicycle. I was 10 years old and granted the right to own a two-wheeled bike, every kid’s dream (Before that I had the kiddie model with training wheels. It bored me.). There were no bicycle shops in our hometown, so the three of us — he, my grandmother and I — had to take a short jeepney ride to the next town to buy the bike. When we got home, I wanted to give it a whirl right away. I see him in my mind now grabbing the bicycle by the seat while I learned to balance, running and still holding the bike by the rear as I started pedaling, and finally releasing his grip as I sped off. He’d always had a hard time letting go and that day was a milestone for both of us. I wonder now what was going through his head as he watched me move away from him and circle the plaza with my new toy, relishing the freedom that speed gave me. He was probably proud and happy and at the same time afraid of the dangers this new freedom brought.
When it was my turn to let go of him, I was more afraid for me. How would my world look like without him in it? My selfishness was front and center again and that had to change. And so, as he lay on his death bed that warm and sunny morning, I told him “I love you,” “thank you” and “I will share your stories” a mere few minutes before he breathed his last. What a blessing it was to witness the peaceful, graceful passing of the person you love.
So I say it again: Thank you, Lolo, for loving us the way you did. You are the gold standard that the men I meet will be measured against. I dedicate my practice to you.