Thursday, November 17, 2011

In His Time



Time. It’s something we think we have control over, something that’s measurable, a component of life in which we feel we have an infinite supply of. But in reality time is fleeting, it’s unpredictable, and at any given moment it can be taken away from you in a single breath… 

In all of my years, I have never experienced a death in our family that has deeply affected me until recently, when my one and only grandfather, our beloved Lolo as we call him in Filipino, died. We were very close and he was the only grandfather I’ve ever known. The memories I have of him are still fresh in my mind, as if they only happened yesterday. But in actuality, the last time that I saw and spent time with my grandfather before he passed was about a year ago at my son’s first birthday. 

At first we were separated by land and sea with about 8000 miles spanning between us. This was when we were continents apart. Then last year when my family and I moved to the Philippines, that distance dwindled down to less than 200 miles by boat ride to the provinces, and sometimes to a mere 20 miles when he would visit my relatives in the next city over from where we lived. I thought for sure, this would allow for more opportunities and occasions for us to get together with my grandparents. Since I last saw my grandfather at my son’s birthday, I’ve wanted to see him again but would always miss the opportunity when he’d be in town. His visits were short, unannounced and usually due to handle some business or personal family matter. I’d find out too late and would miss him by a day or so once he’d gone back to the province. My sentiments would usually be, “Well, there’s always next time.” 

On October 12th, my grandparents were back in town and due to heavy rains and possible hurricanes all fares to the provinces were cancelled the following day. When I found out that they’re departure would be postponed till the 14th, I made plans to visit them along with my husband and children. The next morning I tried contacting my grandfather on his cell phone, but didn’t get any response. The weather then turned from pleasant to grisly as heavy rains began to pour down. My husband and I thought over the one and a half hour trip (yes, it takes that long to travel less than 20 miles if not longer, in Manila traffic) and decided, for safety as well as convenience, to just stay in for the day. After all “there’s always next time.” 

But little did I know that after this visit there wasn’t going to be a “next time”. That following weekend my grandfather died of heat stroke. 

I missed him again, and this time it was for good. As I’d mention before, time is not in our hands. Time cannot be governed by wishful thinking nor human desires, it is and will always be the most precious yet perishable possession we have. 

I found out on the morning of October 22nd that my grandfather had just died a few hours before and at that moment a plethora of emotions filled every inch of my being. I was in disbelief, overwhelmed, confused, saddened, regretful and angry. As I let the news of my grandfather’s passing settle in, I couldn't help but to shed outpouring streams of tears throughout the day. I immediately called my parents and sister in the US to break the news to them. My voice was shaky and I couldn’t hold back the tears from falling as I spoke to my father and then sister, on the phone. My mother, who was my grandfather’s second eldest child, took the news the hardest. She hadn’t seen my grandfather in three years and was looking forward to seeing him in the next seven months at our family reunion. We have one every four years on my mother’s side, but this coming reunion we’ll be missing my lolo. 


I was blessed to have been able to grow up with my grandfather. He and my grandmother lived with us for eight years back in the US when I was just a kid. He was a great man, hard working, God-fearing and humorous as well. One word I would use to describe my grandfather, oddly enough, is child-like. He was a bit mischievous at times, where he would blame broken figurines or half eaten desserts on me, thus getting me in trouble with my mom. He also loved to laugh. His laughter was so distinct and so unique, you could pin point it in a lineup of a hundred laughers. It resembled a cross between Donald Duck’s voice and a machine gun fused as one and was very infectious. 

My grandfather also portrayed child-like qualities in his faith. He was a prayerful man, deeply rooted in the word of God, and depended on it like no other. His faith in God brought him through and out of hard times. It made him a better husband, father, and human being. He never hesitated to give God the glory for everything good in his life. I’m very thankful for such a Godly heritage.   

During my grandfather’s week-long wake and viewing, hundreds of people came out of the woodworks to give testament of how my lolo touched their lives. He gave to charities and families in need; he helped support widows of close friends who passed away, paid for other families’ children’s schooling, and gave to whoever asked. He did all this without our knowledge. My grandmother didn’t realize the extent of my grandfather's philanthropy until people spoke at his eulogy. He truly defined the very essence of compassion and love. 

My grandfather left such an incredible legacy. We would often refer to him as Father Abraham because of his many children and great faith in God. In his seventy four years of living he achieved; 57 years of faithful marriage, 7 children, 16 grandchildren, and 6 great grandchildren. We will forever remember the life that this wonderful, jolly old soul lived… 

It goes without saying that I learned my hardest lesson about time the day I found out my grandfather died. I thought I still had many opportunities to see him. I thought he had many more years left in him. I thought that time was on my side. I thought that there would always be a next time; but I was wrong. We should live our lives to the fullest every waking moment. Cease the opportunities that are given to spend time with those who matter most to us, take time to love those who are near and dear to our hearts and make time to be with those who you care for, because you never know when that time will be your last time with them. 

In the midst of solemnity, a bit of irony is displayed in the photograph below. The framed picture of my grandfather on his coffin was taken at my son's 1st birthday, which was our final moment together before he died. I never realized that the next time I would see my lolo would be through a glass coffin. I hovered over his lifeless, yet peaceful body to give him one last hug.


 “In truth, people can generally make time for what they choose to do; 
it is not really the time but the will that is lacking.”
                                                 ~Sir John Lubbock 

My dearest Lolo, oh how I miss you so much. I know one day we’ll see each other again. Until then, I take comfort in knowing that you’re in the presence of our Creator. Don’t give the angels too much of a hard time while you’re up there, remember God sees everything ;) I look forward to the day when I can hear your Donald Duck laugh again. In His time. I love you Lolo...


EC Writes
To read more stories of those who have loved and lost, visit The Golden Sky Blogfest.

31 comments:

  1. This is a beautiful post. I experiences similar feelings and emotions when my grandfather passed back in August. My heart is with you, girl. I think we all take time for granted. We all think we have more of it, when truly we don't know how much we have. Therefore, it is important that we make the most of every minute. You and your family are in my prayers.

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  2. This was one of the most beautiful, epic and touching tributes I've read today. WOW. Your story captivated me and I am happy to read about your grandfather, and his life, through you. You are an amazing wordsmith, Miss Cool Bean Momma.

    You rock so much, I'm happy to run across your blog.

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  3. awww, I'm so sorry for your loss. Your Grandpa sounds like he was an amazing man. I have no grandparents left and I miss them so much. Always treasure the memories about your Grandpa and pass them on to your children. Your family will be in my prayers!

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  4. He sounds amazing. The picture of that last hug--so much beauty and emotion.

    Thank you for all of your support and kindness! :0)

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  5. what a wonderful tribute to your Lolo. This post was beautifully written! I have no doubt that your grandpa loved you just as much as you loved him!

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  6. Once again, Rachel, I am very sorry for your loss. Your Lolo sounds like a bright spirit. I wish I could have heard his laugh!

    Thank-you for sharing your story, and for the message it holds. Act now, for there is no guarantee of a tomorrow.

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  7. Rachel, such a good story, and he sounded just amazing! You're so right on the precious time. It's nice we have the internet to help more with this, but it is so easy to take things for granted, and let time slip away. Now, you have this post forever for your children and grandchildren to read someday. Thanks for sharing it!

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  8. Really sorry for your loss.
    I´ll have him in my prayers since you call him Lolo & that´s my name ; )

    Thanks a lot for stopping by my blog. You´re always coming back and it´s really nice of you to do so.

    CongratZ on your weightloss!!!! Wish I could do the same... I´ve been trying for more than 3 years....but I just loooooove to eat and I´m always hungry...

    Lots of kisses and my best wishes for the bday boy and a big, big hug for you

    Your friend,
    Lolo

    www.detodounlolo.blogspot.com

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  9. Oh Rachel...this made me so sad.
    I never knew my maternal or paternal grandfather's ~ you are fortunate.
    Hugs.

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  10. What a beautiful tribute to your Lolo. I am very sorry for your loss. And thank you for the reminder to seize time.

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  11. A beautiful man and a beautiful family.

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  12. What a poignant tribute to your Lolo.
    My condolences to you and your family, Rachel.
    I

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  13. He sounds like an amazing man. You were so lucky to have had a relationship with him, though I know right now your heart is broken. So very sorry for your loss. {hugs}

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  14. Rachel, your post for your Lolo was written so well...so beautiful. He should be so proud of you for summarizing your relationship in such a profound way. My thoughts and prayers to you and your family.
    -Steph
    www.pendantsbysteph.blogspot.com

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  15. I'm so sorry for your loss and for all your missed moments.

    This was a beautiful tribute.

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  16. What a beautiful tribute to your "Lolo" I am sorry for your loss. Love the quote from Sir John Lubbock.

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  17. sorry to hear of your loss

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  18. What a beautiful way for you express the loss of a loved one like your grandpa. It's never easy and the void can never be replaced. Thanks for sharing this wonderful post.

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  19. This is such a touching post!
    I'm so sorry for your loss, Rachel! I've lost my grandparents and my mom years ago so I exactly know how you feel.
    I pray that you and your whole family will find comfort in the wonderful memories your grandfather left behind. My prayers are with you...

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  20. I had to come back and read the comments.

    Your grandfather must be so proud!

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  21. Aww... this is so touching Rachel. Lolos are so beautiful aren't they? Mine died a few years back, but I still remember every bit of him. I'm sure you made yours very proud though. My prayers are with you and your family.

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  22. Thank you all for your kind words. And thank you Elisabeth Hirsch for such a wonderful opportunity to share our stories along with yours...

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  23. This is really touching. I'm sorry for your loss. *cyberhug* Wherever he is, I know, he will forever be proud of you.

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  24. Oh Rachel, this is such a touching story! I'm so sorry to hear about your loss. Like you said, your great Lolo is now in good hands with our Creator. And he has lived a long happy faithful life. I agree about the preciousness of time.. I have one lolo left alive too and this post reminded me so much to visit him the next time we go for a vacation in Phils. Have a great day!

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  25. I'm sorry for your lost! I'm sure you will keep his memories alive for your family..you will have moments when "remember than time when Lolo...", I have those moments too. xox

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  26. I'm so sorry for your loss. You have written a beautiful testimony to a fantastic man.

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  27. I'm sorry for your loss. My heartfelt sympathy goes out to you and your family. hugs!

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  28. Thanks everyone. It was great letting it out, and having it written down will forever be a reminder of how awesome my Lolo was...

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