Since Lolo (my grandpa) passed away this past Friday, I’ve been keeping myself pretty busy and trying very hard not to think about it. To me, it’s just so unreal that someone who has constantly been in my life is now gone. I thought I had more time. I was just there two days before he left us. I told him I’d come back soon and asked him to wait for me. He said he would. I really thought I had more time…
I’ve refused to write about it until now because I didn’t know how I could possibly put into words a tribute what a great man like him deserves. I’m not a poet, nor do I even consider myself a writer. And every time I try to start to write something for Lolo, I just feel it’s not good enough.
But I want to try. I want to express how much Lolo has impacted my life. He’s more than just my grandfather… he’s THE grandfather. The one and only grandfather I’ve ever known.
Lolo has been a huge part of my life growing up. Ama (my dad) passed away when I was only 7 and though most of the male figures in our family had a part in helping fill that void, Lolo was the one and only constant in our lives. He (and Lola) came to the US when my mom’s visa finally got approved to come here. He (and Lola) came to live with us when my mom saved up enough money to buy our own house. He (and Lola) kept my mom company when all her kids got married and moved away. He’s been the one constant in our lives. And now that he’s gone, now that he and Lola are both gone, I feel like we are all kind of a little lost… at least I am.
When Lola and Lolo moved here, he was already 68 years old. Most of his friends and extended family still lived in the Philippines. But they knew my mom needed their help and they came willingly. Who would do that? I mean at 68, that’s normally the retirement age right? Where one would be reaping the rewards of their hard work?
Lolo came here and became a janitor at Wheaton Plaza mall. At 68 years old. To help our family out with the bills. I remember going to the mall feeling like I owned the place because my Lolo worked at the mall. Did I know that being a janitor isn’t necessarily the same as being a CEO? No. Because Lolo made everything look cool. I was like “Look at that janitor! That’s my Lolo!” Lolo had swag, man. He wasn’t just a janitor, he was THE janitor.
Everyone knew him there. He’s probably one of the most social guy that you will ever come across. He loved to talk to people and ask them about their lives, their cultures, their religions. He loved to take everything in and really get to know them. He could strike up a conversation with just about anyone. He really was one of the warmest, most welcoming persons that you could ever meet.
When I got into PT school, Lolo would be my best patient. He would actually listen and do the exercises I told him to do. Let’s not lie, most family members would ask me how they can make their pain go away, and when I would show them an exercise, they’d nod and never do it again. With Lolo, he would do all the exercises and show them to me when I came to visit. He made me feel that what I was doing was pretty cool.
After I got engaged, I would visit Inay and he would make it a point to talk to A or if A wasn’t with me, Lolo would ask about him and his family. He always asked about my future in laws even if he’s only met them once or twice. A’s dad really admired Lolo. They can’t even understand each other because A’s dad doesn’t speak much English, but Lolo made him feel like they were the best of friends. They would literally sit by each other, say something to each other, and laugh like old buddies. I was so confused as to how they could do that. He just had a way with people.
When I got married, Lolo and Mikey walked me down the aisle. He was 86 years old. At the time, I didn’t think anything of it. I thought it was pretty cool. But now I realize, that at the time when I would be missing my dad the most, Lolo was there. Instead of the overwhelming sadness that I would’ve felt – not being able to experience walking down the aisle with my dad – I remember feeling honored and happy that Lolo supported me and made me feel invincible that day. Lolo was there. Just like it has always been.
When I had kids, I would try to visit as much as I can so that they could be with Lolo and Lola and feel the love that he’s given so many people. I’m so happy that the kids did get to meet them both. E especially loved seeing him. Every time we would facetime my mom, E would always ask for Lolo. That was just the type of person Lolo was – he appealed to all ages.
I know that life is short. And this year has really reminded me of that – losing both Lola and Lolo. Both of them lived their lives to make our lives the better. They literally gave up their lives for their kids and their grandchildren. Lolo was selfless, kind, lovable, charismatic, and just a pure joy to be with. I will miss him and Lola so much.