04 august 2000 | back | archive | forward | girl | sign | e-mail

{a letter to grandpa}

Dear Grandpa,

Writing comes fairly easily to me, but this may well be the hardest thing I ever write.

You see, one of my earliest memories of you is sitting together in our backyard patio, learning to read and write with your handmade flashcards. I must have gone to kindergarten better prepared than the rest of my classmates, because I had the best teacher: You. I have to say, as difficult as this is, it also seems fitting that I ended up writing this letter to you, because it is the least I can do to say Thank You.

You taught me more than I could learn in flashcards or books. You taught me dignity, hard work and humility. When we slouched, you insisted we stand up straight. When we showed any disinterest in our studies, you helped us get the work done. You demanded we treat others with respect, because that is what everyone deserves. You were tough, but you always acted out of love. You always knew best.

And that's not to say you were all about discipline. There were so many good times. I still remember how you would mysteriously disappear during weekends in Las Vegas. It was always when we were about to go home, and often in the wee hours of the morning, mom and dad would realize that you were nowhere to be found. After hours of frantic searching, they'd find you sitting contently at a slot machine in the furthermost corner.

I remember watching you tend to the tomatoes and eggplant in your vegetable garden, which were inevitably ruined by our mischievous dog, Rocky. But somehow the crops would bear fruit and we'd get to enjoy fresh salad at dinner. I remember holding your hand, discovering how loose the skin around your knuckles was, and giggling because it was so cool. I remember your beaming face last Christmas when you wore the Santa's cap and Dutch wooden shoes, sitting on your chair outside with your leg crossed, of course.

I remember I even got to teach you something, once -- I taught you and grandma how to play mahjong and we would spend summer afternoons in the laundry room, shifting the porcelain tiles around on the tablecloth. That's how most of my memories are: Slices of time spent together. You were a major figure in my childhood and remained constant throughout my life.

When I went to the Philippines as a child, I remember being overwhelmed with the difference in culture, language barrier and dozens of relatives I'd never met. I was always being told how to behave and what to say. Once, somebody told me that the proper way to call you was Lolo and Lola, not Grandpa and Grandma. I returned with my adolescent logic: "I have many Lolos and Lolas but only one Grandpa and Grandma." It was my way of saying that you two were special and near and dear to my heart. That will never change.

I know you are already in Heaven watching over us. You're probably shaking your head at my bad posture and my brothers' hairstyles, but I am sure you also are looking down with love and pride at the family you built. You can rest assured that we will never forget what you have taught us and that we will pass down those lessons to our children and grandchildren.

I know I can speak for all of your grandchildren -- Tom-Tom, Ricky, Emmanuel, Mary Beth and myself -- when I say we miss you, but we will never forget you, because you have imprinted yourself permanently on our hearts. We love you.

Until we will meet again,

{in memory of conrado micaller, feb. 2, 1911 - july 30, 2000}

before my grandpa died, my mom asked me if i would write a eulogy in his memory. at first i didn't want to. who wants to think of such things before the person is even gone? after he died, she asked me again, and as much as i didn't want to, i knew it was the right thing to do. it was the best way i could honor him.

while i had no reservations about sharing it, i wanted my family to hear it first. i am posting this just hours after the funeral in the philippines, where my heart certainly is right now.

thank you to everyone who has sent warm wishes and support in the past week. it has spoken volumes.

i don't care what you say: you inspire me.