Blah, Family, Me, Trips

Lola Basilisa Hortelano Elvas

I can’t sleep. It’s been almost 24 hours since I have learned my last living grandparent had passed away. I literally cried out, “Nooooooo!” after I saw my sister’s status update on her Facebook wall. I was devastated. I was happily planning to go back to the Philippines with my family in January, hoping to surprise Lola on her 96th birthday. It was going to be a memorable experience, given my two daughters have not seen their great grandmother yet. It was supposed to be epic.

Sadly, this will not be so. It feels like days already, yet…has it only been 20 plus hours? A lot has happened since then. I had startled Lucien awake after my outburst and had been a comfort to me since then. I literally broke down in tears. I only stopped so I could call people. I thought about Laverne, our old neighbor in Kinkaid, who had been best friends with my grandmother and fondly called her Lisa. They had exchanged letters over the years, and I had been visiting Laverne every once in a while to catch up with news. So, I decided to call her and let her know what had happened. As soon as I said my name, I knew something was wrong. Laverne didn’t know me. What? She does not recall who I was, nor my mom, my sisters who she has met years before, not even Ted, my grandfather, nor Lisa, my grandmother she hung out with so much. She did not know my grandmother. I was hurt. Extremely. Particularly the way she was indifferent with how I finally said that Lola had passed away. She seemed concerned enough but it wasn’t a concern by a great friend of hers, more like how an acquaintance reacts to someone who passed away. I hung up and sobbed even more. Never mind that she forgot me, or mom, or my sisters, I was more hurt that she would forget Lola like that. I later learned from Mom that Laverne might be suffering from dementia or onset of Alzheirmer’s because of her old age as well, but nevertheless it was heartbreaking.

Later in the afternoon, after exchanging instant messages from family back home, we decided to use Skype. It was comforting at least to talk to family, catching up on things and trying to figure out if or when we will go home. In the meantime, Lucien was trying his best to get me to the Philippines in two days time, and I had been filling out time off request forms for my employer. Lucien came through for me, and was able to get me tickets, but I had to go to Houston to board his ailrine’s international flight. No biggie, and luckily my flight doesn’t leave till the afternoon. My employer was generous enough to give me my requested time and do what I need to do. All through this, I felt like in a daze, totally exhausted yet my mind wouldn’t let me sleep like tonight. I was constantly online, calling this and that, doing a few quick errands and repeat. I even had the strength to cook which kinda comforted me more a bit. I used to remember Lola “forcing” me to learn how to cook. I say forcing because at the time, I wasn’t interested. However, the ever present home economics teacher in her had insisted I learn a thing or two of cooking. And even typing. And sewing. And doing crochet.

When Lucien and the kids got home, we all sat down and talked. I actually didn’t want to because I know I would burst out crying. But we had to explain to Dani and Lauren how Lola, who they were excited to see, is now in heaven. It was a little hard to explain it and Lucien even had a hard time trying not to cry. Later, after dinner, Lucien insisted I go take a nap, as I had not rested since the news. I had fitfully slept for three hours and woke up since I still had some packing to do. After the girls had gone to bed, Lucien and I had some good conversations about Lola. He is so sweet and all I needed for comfort. How blessed I am with this man.

There are so many loving memories of her. I’m just sad that I didn’t get to spend more time with her as we lived so far away. Lola didn’t like it in the States. She felt her age, and she couldn’t go outside and do as she pleased. In the Philippines, she was the queen of the house and can go about and do active things. She felt so alive there.

More memories I remember:

– I used to invite her to go to church with me and she used to scoff at me and refuse to go. When I was already here in the US, I had heard she is so active in church, holding bible studies in her house and had a women’s circle group. What a change! I was so happy for her.
– I loved her “Ahay!” “Meow meow!” remarks I teach them to my kids.
– Lucien had said Lola was the first one to accept him to the family, even before my mom did as she didn’t like him at the start. She said something like, “He is my grandson already!” Lucien was so touched as he had no grandparents anymore. She even gave him a hug to welcome him to the family. He teared up as he said this and I followed suit. He really loved her as his own.
– We went to a reception of some sort and had a big banquet. As they were serving coffee around the tables, the server asked Lola if she wanted some. She said “No, thank you” while nodding her head yes. The server was so confused and gave her coffee anyway. She leaned over to me to ask why she got coffee when she had refused and I told her she was nodding yes. Haha.
– I heard about how Lola went to the bank to withdraw some money. The teller asked, “What denomination?” (pertaining what kinds of bills she needed) Lola answered confidently, “When I was younger, I was a Baptist, but now I go to a Methodist church!” :P

There are more but now my mind has finally admitted its exhaustion. Tomorrow night, we will drive to Houston and begin my journey home and see Lola for the final time.

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