Monday, October 31, 2011

The Best Reunion for the Saddest Occasion - My Eulogy for Nanay.

I'll miss those cuddles forever. Nanay 1920 - 2011.
The last little while has been a very intense and thought provoking time for me filled with all the emotions of loss pervading all facets of my life. I feel that I'm unfortunately getting to know the process of grief a little too much right now - the not so up moments, its downs and everything in between where in a fleeting moment it feels like you're going to be ok and fine, right before another emotion grips you into the throes of sadness or anger or resentment. To be honest, it's terrible. It absolutely sucks and I'm exhausted and I certainly don't enjoy being all over the place. I despise not being able to trust my own reactions to things - I hate, hate feeling this way - the emotional vulnerability and the rawness. I thought it'd be over now but it's not. I am impatient. I am angry. I have the shortest fuse I've ever had and I'm still crying at a blink of an eye. I feel unbalanced, unstable, homesick, sad, lonely and I have the frustration of not knowing what to do with myself. I know it's a phase and it too shall pass but I really would like to feel like myself again. Thankfully, I do have an amazing support system around the world and I am truly appreciative of that.   

One of the things that I am very thankful about is making the last minute decision to go to the Philippines for Nanay's funeral. I bought a ticket at 4pm on a Saturday for an 11:45 pm flight bound for Manila and 15 hours later I was with my family. It was one of the most whirlwind weeks of my life. Although it was a tremendously sad occasion, I can't begin to describe how wonderful it was to reconnect with my family (BFFs included). There was certainly lots of tears but there was boisterous laughter as well.  It's those tight comforting hugs, the loving shoulder to lean on and the smiles that come with reminiscing fantastic memories that are truly priceless. We were all very close to my grandmother. The loss is simply devastating. However, like two sides to every coin, it was also the most touching and heart warming reunion for us as a family. I would not have traded anything in the world for those moments. 

I was given the difficult task of eulogizing Nanay and as promised am now posting it since between my apparent inability to hold the mic close enough to my mouth, the construction work outside the cathedral, my incoherent sobbing and difficulty breathing - most people did not hear it (yes, I can finally laugh about that now). 

Our hands - can you actually tell which hand is mine and which is Nanay's?
She loved taking pictures with the iPod.  
Ya think maybe I took after her a bit? I hope I'm like Nanay at 90 - Loved and still looking goooood!
Best back scratcher ever!
The day Nanay found out she doesn't like wine! LOL!
Her legacy = Our Family (not all are present here but all are definitely loved).
The Santos/Lamucho/Cruz cousins 

She'd have been happy we were together and smiling.
*** The Eulogy ***

Gusto ko ho magpasalamat sa inyong lahat (I want to Thank you all). Your presence, well wishes and prayers are truly appreciated. On behalf of our family Thank You all for being here with us. Today, I would like to honor Nanay's memory by sharing what she meant to us, our precious memories with her and most importantly by celebrating the life that she lived. Words can't describe how much we will miss Nanay. It is truly one of the saddest days to lose someone you love so deeply, admired unfailing and to us, the epitome of everything good and fair and beautiful in the world. 

Before Nanay was our Nanay, she was a Reyes daughter, a caring sister to her 12 siblings, a good friend, a supportive wife to Tatay, a loving mother to her daughters, my mother Thelma Cruz and my Tita Vicky Lamucho. She was the best grandmother to us, Charmaine, Cheryl and me, Charina, to Sunshine, AJ, Dindo and Moonbeam. And ultimately sa kanyang mga apo sa tuhod (to her great grandchildren) si  Marshall, Dawson, Dean, Kalli, Cheyenne, Aili, Jaiden, Jed, AM, and Sky. 

Nanay means everything to us. She is our one. She is our all. We are who we are because of the love she gave us and values she taught us. Somehow, she was always there for us - through the most difficult times in our life, our challenges, hardships, heartaches and specially through all our times of happiness and triumphs.  She was our supporter, our cheerleader, our rock. She was extremely loved by all of us and most of the time nagkukulitan kameng mga pinsan kung sino ang pinaka faborito at mahal ni Nanay (The cousins would all tease each other about who she loved the most). She would always say, "Mahal ko kayong lahat" (I love you all). Nanay was always so fair. Masyadong fair nga eh (Too fair in fact).

Imagine ha? Kilala nyo ang mga familia namin (You all know our family). Meron sensitive, may happy go lucky, may poet and artist, may mga strong willed and matapang, may mga tahimik at mahiyain (quiet and shy). Pero si Nanay - Pinalake nya kameng lahat (But Nanay, she raised us all).  She was the rock that stabilized the foundations of our family.  She was our protector and the glue that made us strong. Nanay was magical because she managed to love us all in a way that was exactly what we needed. Ang galing nya (She was amazing), because she always knew what to say and do to make the world right again.   

Among many things, She was also loving, funny, wise, supportive, giving, kind, thoughtful and truly selfless.  Lahat ng puwedeng niyang ibigay binibigay nya (Everything she could give she always did). She lived her life with admirable grace and dignity. Nanay was a woman of Faith.  Of Compassion. Forgiveness. Of Gratitude and most impressively of  tremendous STRENGTH. She has been and will always be our beacon, our moral compass and a source of strength and love that will never be forgotten and will always live in our hearts. I believe that she will always be there to guide us in spirit and in love.

To me, she was honestly the perfect Grandmother - Nanay was very traditional in a non-conventional way. She was a devout Catholic who let us be spiritual in our own way. She was fearless and brave. She had the best perspective on life. She taught us to have a zest for living, to take things with grace, pride, humility and face life with a smile and hope despite whatever trials or tribulations may come your way and to have faith that God will provide. Ang favorite saying nga ni Nanay was "Bahala na ang Dios." (Her favorite saying was, It's up to God.) We thank God that he blessed us with Nanay, that she lived a good life and that  He ultimately took her painlessly.

Her legacy is us, her FAMILY. She lives through us - our values, our hopes and dreams. We embody everything she taught us. In many ways,  we are all different versions of who she was. She taught us that family is the most important thing in life.  Nanay instilled the values of love, acceptance and support. She was and will continue to be the ultimate example of virtue and strength. All of our memories of Nanay ends with her always smiling, or laughing and saying the perfect thing kahit pinanagalitan na kame (even when she was getting angry at us). She was full of the kind of wisdom that we all aspire to have in our life, the kind of advice that will never steer you wrong or ever regret taking, the kind of knowledge that comes with a life fully lived. 

Nanay aged beautifully and gracefully. Stricto raw siya noon (She was apparently strict). Pero sa tutuo lang (But to tell you the truth), all I think of when I think of Nanay was how amazing she was, how beautiful she sounded when she hummed, how peaceful she looked when she prayed,  ang contentment nya when she enjoys her pagkain and mierienda (how content she lwas when she enjoys her food), the way she would light up when she played with her apos (grandchildren), how wise she was when we asked for her advice and opinion. Mostly, it's her joyous laugh I will always remember. Grabe ang sarap tumawa ni Nanay (Did she ever love laughing). 

I'm so thankful to have had the opportunity to have spent so much time with her in this last year. She never lost her sense of humor. 

Me: Nanay, I love you. 
Nanay: I love you too...3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 ! Comes complete with laughter.

Me: Nanay, sino ako? = Who am I?
Nanay: Bakit, di mo ba kilala ang sarili mo? = Why don't you know who you are?

Or she would say: 
Nanay:  "Galing ka sa akin" = You came from me. 
Me:  Nanay, apo mo ako. = I'm your granddaughter. 
Nanay: She'd look at me and smile and say "O, pareho yun diba?" = Same thing isn't it?

Me: Nanay ilan taon ka na? May 70 ka ba?  = Nanay, how old are you? Have you reached 70?
Nanay: Wala pa naman. Mga between 61-65 para sigurado. Baka sabihin ng mga Tao na nagpapabata ako = Nah, not yet. Uh, somewhere between 61-65 - just to make sure. I wouldn't want people to think I was trying to be younger than I am! (Said at the young age of 90)

Me: Nanay, Ganda mo naman... Nagmana kme sa iyo = Nanay, you're so beautiful. We all take after you.
Nanay: Kinuha nyo na lahat! =  Ya, you all took it from me! 

Q: Kumusta Nanay? = How you doing Nanay?
A: Nahihilo ako. = I'm dizzy
Q: Ano Nanay? = What?
A: Nahihilo ako. = I'm dizzy
Q: What? = What? :)
Nanay: "I said, I'm dizzy."

Me: Nanay, what would you like?
Nanay: What your like is my like. 

Q: Kumusta ang tulog mo Nanay? = How was your sleep Nanay?
A: "To be continued..."

And with that, I pray that she may continue her sleep in heaven...I know she will always be with  us, smiling as she watches over us. Thank you for everything Nanay. We love you.

 Best Grandmother Ever!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Thankful Down Under - Canadian Style

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday ever! To me, it basically comprises of everything I LOVE – it comes with a long weekend, you get to spend quality time with friends and family (without the stress of commercialism and presents), early day drinking (cause who doesn't like sipping on wine early and waiting for the turkey to cook), it's not religious in nature and of course the ridiculously gluttonous yummy food. Basically, it's a time to be completely thankful and appreciative of everything that you have in your life...What's not to like?

This is the time when I get really homesick and miss everything that I love in Canada - the coming of a new season, the beautiful golden hue of a clear autumn day, the smile of pine, the changing color of maple leaves. I wish I was there with everyone - It makes me sad that Vancouver was almost a lifetime away – certainly it feels like it’s been too long. So, I made sure that I had a phenomenal Canadian Thanksgiving this weekend! I ended up having 8 people over for dinner – I have never cooked that much in my life! The whole prepping/cooking took something like 14 hrs. But I was so proud of how the whole thing came out! I must say, I was quite impressed with myself - if I may say so! Not sure that’s going to happen again (at least I won’t cook everything! Although everyone offered to help, I just wanted to have things exactly the way I wanted it and what I was craving. Anyhow, you guys would have been proud of my impressive effort.

Menu – My piece de resistance:

  • Turkey – I actually brined it for 12 hours with a salt, garlic, fresh herb before I stuffed it (homemade) and cooked it. For 6 hrs! I can not believe how moist and perfectly brown it came out! 3.8 kilos – I was hoping for more left overs but it was devoured!
  • Homemade Stuffing – whole wheat bread, Italian sausages, celery, fresh herbs, apples and cranberry
  • Chili spiced gravy
  • 2 types of potatoes – Scalloped and chive and parsley mash
  • Sautéed cauliflower, beans, carrots with a balsamic, honey soy sauce
  • Glazed carrots with almonds
  • Garlic roasted Squash and Pumpkin
  • Red Wine Apple Crumble with Maple Walnut Ice cream

Things that I’m THANKFUL for:
  • Having friends and family that are truly amazing!
    • My family for being insanely intense, funny, amusing, brilliant, strong and supportive about everything
    • My best friends - despite living in different countries/locations – still managing to be there ALL the time! How impressive are they?!
  • Skype, Facebook, my iPod, net book and all forms of technology to help – although I’m disappointed that we are not in the “Beam me up Scottie” days yet.
  •  Being able to explore options in a different country
  • Having the opportunity to travel and see new places and meet amazing new people
  • My new and growing Brisbane crew - especially Nick, my adopted lil bro that makes me feel I have family here.
  • The Hub & Natsuki - Awesome place to live and an excellent roommate!
  • Being able to start a new tradition and introducing Canadian Thanksgiving
  • Day drinking with awesome company during Thanksgiving and being in bed before midnight
  • Australia’s relatively strong economy & appreciation for recruiters
  • Having the necessary skills and experience that companies seem to want
  • Being healthy & strong (working out to get even stronger to follow...)
  • Caffeine - without which I would not be effective or survive at work
  • Earning money again
  • My grandmother continuing to fight and be relatively healthy
  • Medical technology and it’s ability to help people find cancer (it’d be better if we can finally find a cure though)
  • Having the opportunity to seek personal and professional happiness (still working on this)
I hope everyone had a great Happy Gobble gobble day and had the opportunity to be Thankful for all the wonderful blessings in your life!