Lola Payat

          Lola Payat (thin grandma) is how my siblings and I call her because of her slim physique. Natha and I coined that term because we have another Lola who was fat. My two younger brothers, one 7 years and the other 13 years younger than I, acquired that term from us.

            When Natha and I were toddlers, we often went to Lola Payat’s house. Lola Payat, by the way, survived my Lolo Pacio (Bonifacio) by more than a decade. I remember Lola Payat serving me the best of their Christmas Noche Buena food, reserved especially for her apo who doesn’t live with her on the same house and compound much like the rest of her grandchildren. One of my earliest memories of my very first travel was with her, when she bathed me, combed my wavy dark tresses and dressed me up prettily 80’s style, to go to Sta. Maria where her siblings used to live.

           Her death came at a point in my life that I consider the most challenging. I was preparing for the board exam and was literally buried in piles of books and equations. Our family was so financially broke at that time, details of that point was so painful, I refuse to remember. I was studying at a friend’s house when I received a text message informing me of her passing away. I couldn’t help but blrt my feelings out through the loudest of sobs.

           You can tell that she’s one of my deepest regrets in my relatively easy life. Sayang. Kasi hindi umabot. A few weeks after her death, had she waited a bit more, she could’ve seen her firs grandchild who finished college also successfully passed the board exam to be a registered engineer.

           Lola Payat was 70+ when she died but I knew the cause of he death wasn’t just old age. Like many Filipinos who aren’t financially well off, she died from lack of good (if any) medical attention.

          My phone alarmed me that October 3 is her death anniversary. I thought, if she were alive today, what could have been the things we were sharing? I could’ve given her gifts, bought her food and clothes, taken her to a movie and dinner every once in a while. Sadly, I didn’t get those chances. All I can do now is to include her and Lolo in Mass intentions whenever I can.

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            I had a great and happy childhood. I grew up knowing I was loved and that’s largely because of Lola Payat. Most of my moments with her are also blurry in my mind, too. My father has her eyes, that I can remember. Even up to this day, her children love and respect her. Respect. I think that’s a rare thing to see with children towards their parents nowadays so it was really remarkable of her.

         Pray for us when you get to heaven, Lola. Let the scent of incense replace the tobacco’s smell you used to smoke. In heaven, you’ll find amusement  more satisfying than that of solitaire. You’ll wear there the finest skirts we didn’t get to shop here and even if you eat a lot, you’ll maintain that slim figure I unfortunately didn’t inherit.

Remember, Lord, those who have died

and have gone before us marked with the sign of faith,

especially our Lola Payat

May she, and all who sleep in Christ,

find in your presence

Light, happiness and peace

Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

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