thank you

My lola (grandma) died at age 98, several years ago. Although she often talked of her life in the Philippines, I remember very few details now. I had always wanted to record her stories on tape and transcribe them but never did.

Among many things, my lola lived through the Japanese occupation of the Philippine countryside. I remember her recalling how she witnessed the stomach of pregnant woman in her village suffer the rage of soldier’s bayonet.

My lola’s daughter (my mom) to this day will only speak of high school beauty pageants and dances. But my (dearly departed) father would sometimes talk excitedly about living through the war as a young boy not yet in his teens. His eyes would widen as he recounted how he was sometimes forced to hold his breath underwater for long periods of time and used reeds as make-shift snorkels in order avoid capture.

I cannot even begin to imagine living through those times. The years of sleep-deprivation. The atrocities of exploding vomit and poop. The massacre of peas, mushed but uneaten. The torture endured on watching yet another In the Night Garden episode. These are the struggles I have faced. Although the exhaustion, helplessness, frustration and boredom I’ve felt are very real to me, these as well as the guilt and feelings of inadequacy that sometimes overwhelm me do not compare to having lived through a war.

And so as I reminisce about the old stories told by my father and lola and as this (Canadian) Thanksgiving long weekend comes to a close, I find myself reflecting on the things I am grateful for. There really is so much. Too many to write down here. So I’ve kept my list brief:

The Good Man
You’ve taken your fair share of raising the boys and, certainly, of dealing with the night time and early morning wake-ups. I love you for that and, on a more selfish level, I love the way you often lie on my side of the bed on cold nights, warming it for me before I climb in beside you. Thank you.

Little Dude and LittleR Dude
Mommy was 39 and 41 when she had you but, still, you were born with 2 eyes, 2 arms and 2 legs and no physical abnormalities. Good genes, a healthy lifestyle, my avoidance of the dentist (and consequently, x-rays) stacked the deck in our favour, yes. But not all mommies, some much, much younger than I was, were so lucky.

I’m so grateful that I have the three of you in my life and that my daily struggles are not those involving life and death, as did my lola and father.

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  1. SO good to stop for a while and just be grateful for the goodness we have. Sometimes remembering the awful past can shed so much light on the future…

  2. What an incredible woman you are… with such an amazing family history. I could not imagine what life must have been like during those times as well. Seems to me your family is blessed to have such a wonderful woman in their lives as well!

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