• "Everything is a grace, everything is the direct effect of our Father's love—difficulties, contradictions, humiliations, all the soul's miseries, her burdens, her needs - everything, because through them, she learns humility, realizes her weakness - Everything is a grace because everything is God's gift. Whatever be the character of life or its unexpected events—to the heart that loves, all is well."
  • - St. Therese of Lisieux

Sunday, December 11, 2016

My Grandmother's Greatest Ambition

This post has been a draft for almost two weeks now. My grandmother is still in the ICU as of this writing. She has suffered a massive stroke about a month ago, a few days before her 94th birthday. So today, I have decided to publish this post - without much editing because it is too painful to read again. 

I remember Christmas 1988, I was twelve. I got a slam book, something every tween had that time, but had no friends who would write on it. Not that I had no friends, but it was Christmas vacation and so I was stuck with two younger brothers, who had no interest in sharing about what love is; and with family and relatives.

My mama told me that I could ask my uncles, aunts and other cousins to write on my slam book at our annual family reunion. And so I did. I also asked my lola Remy (grandma) to write. Her answer to the question, "What is your greatest ambition?", anchored me more to the Catholic faith. I just did not know it that time.

I remember lola's room in Paranaque, it had its own bathroom which I thought was pretty cool. The curtains were heavy and it was dark even during the day when the curtains were shut. Lola had a round table with an intricately patterned, yellow-gold table cloth. There, were her images of the saints, Mother Mary and other relics and mementos of her trip to the Holy Land. I remember standing in front of that altar, looking. I remember the plastic bottle with Holy water in the form of Our Lady of Lourdes. I remember Lola Remy's rosary with a relic of a saint on the crucifix (I completely forgot whose) maybe because I did not know what 'relic' meant. She told me only someone with the purest of heart can see whats inside. She asked me if I could see it. And, I was so happy that I could. I only realized later on that everybody could probably see it. I will always be grateful for that moment. My Lola Remy showed me how exactly Jesus saw me.

I remember my parents commend me, jokingly, because that's how they would do it, that they noticed that I was being very polite and kind. My Papa said it must be because of the book Lola Remy gave me. And it was true! I did not want to admit it but I really wanted to follow all the lessons in The Little Children's Bible.

Lola gave me several books. In all of them she wrote a note on the front page. I remember one book she gave me about the Ten Commandments, she wrote 'Dear Weena, Always be a good girl. Love, Lola Remy.' 

I remember going to mass with her. She and Lolo would remain in the pew long after the mass was finished. I did not understand this practice at that time and I must confess, I thought was silly. Now I realize that during those times, there were no adoration chapels yet, and Lola stayed to pray and adore Jesus in the Eucharist.

I always thought of what Lola Remy wrote on my slam book. As a child, I took it literally and thought, 'that would be a difficult thing to do.' I probably forgot about it during my teenage and college years. But when I joined CFC Singles for Christ, I began to have hope that IT may be possible! Now that I am married and raising a boy, I have come to realize that every Catholic should have the same ambition. I try my best nowadays but fail again and again. I run to Jesus for forgiveness through confession and resolve to try better.

I remember asking Lola if she wanted a 15 decade rosary. I remember looking for blue beads so I can craft her a rosary. I remember making that rosary, and giving it to her. I remember how she took it out of the pouch, looked at the cross and the beads lovingly, and then carefully cupping the rosary with both her hands. I remember feeling joy in my heart. I remember seeing it hung on the post of her bed last year when I came to visit her at their home. 

I remember arriving at Lola Remy's house but without them home. Mama always explained that she was still at Anihan Technical School, run by her Catholic community, Opus Dei. I know she has helped a lot of women transform their lives. My memory is failing me, but I know she did lectures too. Her example also fueled my desire to teach.

I remember asking my mother if Lola Remy's answer to the question on my slam book was true. Mama told me that it was. As I look into her life again, I realize that all the memories I have of her point me to Jesus. Her greatest ambition is now also mine. I don't know if many know this, but I'm sure those close to her see it through her actions. Her greatest ambition - 'To become a saint.'

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