Sunday, March 23, 2014

*365. LETTER TO LOLA

(In January of 2009, my mother, Estrella del Rosario Castro or simply, "Imang Ecteng" to many people, was diagnosed with a terminal illness. After learning of her sickness, her first-born grandchild, Charisse Diane Hamada wrote this letter to her Lola Ester. Charisse had grown up under her watch in Mabalacat, while waiting to be reunited with her U.S-based parents. Before Ima expired in June, she had the pleasure of seeing her first great-grandchildren-Mia and Ethan-twins of Charisse, who flew them home in March 2009 to see their 'Lola Easter' for the first--and the last time. The picture accompanying this article shows my young Ima with daughter, Celine, mother of Charisse, in 1952)

January 29, 2009
10:14 PM

 My Dear Lola,

As I put Mia and Ethan to bed this evening, we said a prayer for you. We prayed that your illness will not cause you unbearable pain. We are saddened that you are going through this Lola, but we know that you are a very strong person and can face what's to come.

I often wondered how you managed your life with 8 children! Edgar and I have 2 and already we are saying "no more". Reflecting back on the years we lived with you, I want to tell you how forever grateful we are for your love and support (and Lolo's, too).

 I know you made a lot of sacrifices for my family. I remember that you had to build an extension to Sta. Ines to house our family of 6! I remember you helped us out financially, tirelessly tried to help us get visas to come to the States, raised Charmaine and I while Mom/Pa were in the States. That must have been so taxing on you. You never complained about the responsibility. I also remember giving you so much heartache growing up.

So Lola, I want to take this opportunity to say how sorry I am for ever hurting you. Who I am now is a reflection of how well you and Mom/Pa raised us and I am proud to be your oldest apo. As an adult - a mother like you - it's all very clear to me where my independence, resourcefulness, perseverance, drive and loyalty comes from - it's from you, Lola.

You have set a role model for your children and your apos. I will remember you always as being generous of yourself - so selfless and devoted to your family, always putting your family first before yourself.

You love and you give unconditionally, Lola and this is how I strive to live my own life and hope my children do the same.

Lola, I am honoring you by bringing Ethan and Mia to meet you and know you even for a short time. You are not a stranger to them as you might think. They give me and Edgar laughter and love and that is what I'm hoping they would bring to you during our short visit.

When God calls you, remember those you are leaving behind as we remember and cherish you. Know that WE will be alright. Know that it is okay to let go and be at peace. You will no longer have to feel pain or worry as you've done all your life.

We will all be OK, we have each other no matter the distance. Lola, we love you - we always have and we always will. Thank you for everything you've done for us, from the bottom of our hearts. Give our love to Lolo and Tito Eric and to all our family who have gone before us. May God Bless You and watch over you.

Your apo, Charisse

P.S. Lola, how could I forget to mention? Your cooking! You've shown us love through the food you've fed all us these years. We will never forget you... I just wished I learned (even a little) how to cook like you...

2 comments:

Aldrin said...

This letter moved me, as I myself lost a dear grandmother who raised me in the best way she knew how. The manner how she left us will always cut deep and the wound will bleed 'til eternity. Somehow, this letter has expressed all what I feel. Thank you Alex.

alex r. castro said...

You're welcome, Aldrin. We celebrated my mom's 5th death anniversary this week, and we miss her much still.