Every December, you can find my family and me with my paternal grandmother, Lola1 Felisa, at her home in the Philippines, if you can find the way. Without the aid of my auntie, from the airport there is hardly a way we could find Lola's home through streets with no names and sudden turns. Lola never meets us at the airport since she's a homebody, but we're always certain she'll be awake when we arrive at her home late at night.
In 1983, when I was five, I saw Lola for the first time. She took my socks off for me as soon as we reached her home. She cooked every day except on Christmas, when she hired caterers and had relatives over. Every night I slept next to her under a mosquito net on a mattress on the floor. She always told me to make sure there were no open spaces between the mattress and the net, yet I got bitten anyway. Lola administered a remedy called White Flower of mentholyptus extract which made my bug bites bearable and quickly disappear.
The alliance that sometimes occurs between grandparents and grandchildren that I have previously noded about was truly apparent to me on one occasion when I was seven. I had done something reprehensible I don't remember and was about to get disciplined by my dad. However, my grandmother quickly intervened and threatened my dad if he did anything to hurt me. I would do anything for Lola, just as I am certain she would for me.
As I got older I could always expect Lola to inspect me initially... how I tall I've gotten, if I was wearing my godmother's (her passed daughter's) earrings, and if I cut my hair short yet, which she still hopes I'll do. Lately she leaves cooking to my auntie and uncle as her knees have gotten weak. As her hearing has gotten poorer, we employ pen and paper to get ideas across. Lola also tailors conversations to me, asking me yes or no questions so that I don't have to yell in her ear. This still makes me cry. Things are pleasant enough for both of us, though, just to sit next to each other and read.
Lola has been through foreign military occupation, a war while just giving birth, two revolutions, and flooding at heights taller than her for months on end. Throughout the times I have been there, there have been blackouts, brownouts, and an earthquake, and in the center of it all is Lola.
1See Lola by Randir, though I pronounce it loh-lah.
(November 11, 1915 - June 30, 2001)