I was really close to my grandfather. I looked up to him since I was a kid, and I remember telling my cousins that I wanted to be as successful as him when I grow up. He was financially well-off, but was never selfish nor greedy; his siblings, sons, and even colleagues would vouch for him on that account, and I can say I can vouch for him too. He wasn’t much of a disciplinarian, he always wanted to see his grandchildren happy, and he made us happy. He also tried to instill in us the sense of responsibility he practiced, specially when we got older, old enough to understand such values.
Lolo Fred, as we all fondly called him, pampered me and my cousins since we were very young, as young as I can remember. When it came to what we wanted (me and my cousins), we always got our way. Be it toys or food, they were ours when we wanted them. Even when we got older, the gifts became bigger. I got my first keyboards at age 8, and my first PC in my freshman year in high school. He spoiled us until we went to college. After that, my grandfather resigned from his work, and had enough savings to last until the end of his days.
In the succeeding years, I rarely saw my grandparents, only on occasion unlike when I was younger. My grandmother died back in 2004, and since then my grandfather was alone in his house in Lumban, Laguna. His memory began failing by then. Every time I went to see him, he would always ask me the same question “Where are you studying?”, and I would say the same answer “Lolo, I’m already working.” I saw him less and less as each year passed, sometimes passing off the opportunity to see him even on the holidays. I have so many fond memories of him in the past, when he was stronger, and I just didn’t like seeing him how he was. But I loved him so much even so.
The last time I saw him alive, was around February of 2010. We visited for a short while, taking advantage of the occasion; I was asked to be a godfather to my cousin’s first born. As expected, he asked me the same question of where I was studying, to that I answered my usual, but added some of my recent exploits with my company back then. I saw in his face a sense of delight as I told him my story, telling him about my work, where I’ve been, and what I’ve been doing with my life, and as I finished speaking, he smiled and said “I’m proud of you.” My grandfather had high expectations of his grandchildren, and it was quite difficult to live up to his standards. So getting those words from him meant the world to me. I literally held back my tears as we continued talking. And when we left Lolo that day, I was extremely happy.
On the 31st of March, 2010, I got a call from my dad. He told me that I should go home immediately to Laguna, as my grandfather’s health was failing. I was supposed to go to Laguna the next day for the Holy Week, so I told my dad I’ll go early the next morning. During that afternoon, I contemplated on the thought of seeing my grandfather again. My dad said he was already too weak to get out of bed. I probably couldn’t bear to see him like that so I decided to stay at work, but the thought lingered.
That night, I had another call from my dad, and it was the news that I was expecting. “Wala na si Lolo. Daanan ka namin bukas, uwi tayo.” All I could say was “Okay.” and the call ended.
When I think about what happened on the last day of March, I ask myself if I should have gone home. But then I thought, if I did, I would not have been be able to contain myself if I saw my grandfather pass away before my eyes. That would have devastated me. I like thinking about all the happy memories we’ve had, specially the last time I saw him back in February. I’ll always remember that when I think about him.
It was his birthday 3 days ago, December 27. If he were still alive, he would’ve been 90 years old.