20 November 2008

My Lola...Random Musings

Just felt like talking about my Lola. ("Lola" is what Filipinos call their Grandmothers)

My Lola is my maternal grandmother who's 94. She was born on Valentine's day,which is pretty appropriate for her personality. She's a very loving person...her world was about taking care of her family. She was all about taking care of her 10 children and later, her 32 grandkids. Her initial stroke was a pretty bad one, back when I was about 17. It left her paralyzed on her right side. The damage to her brain was such that she can't really speak very well and what does come out is Tagalog. This isn't to say that she doesn't understand us when we're talking in English to her. She really does, and at 94, there's still a whole lot of mischief in those eyes.

Lola has been in the hospital since Saturday. Apparently her blood sugar got very low, and I'm not getting the full story, but she ended up at the hospital. Long and short of it is that I found out about this on Tues, but couldn't go to visit her til yesterday. My mom had been worried about her eating, and though the staff at this hospital is A LOT better than the last hospital she was in, Mom said she felt better if I could help feed her. Lola has a way of tricking people into thinking she's eating, but she's not. I'll get to that later.

When I initally found her in her room, someone had propped her up in a chair w/ a bunch of pillows. She didn't know I was there until I was standing right in front of her. Once she realized I was there, her eyes lit up and she kept saying "Talaga? Talaga!" which means "Really? Really!" From then on she was all smiles. She tried to ask about my girls. She does this by motioning w/ her good hand what she thinks their height is. Our conversations are always like that...hand motions, broken tagalog, me trying to interpret what she wants to communicate.

I refuse to play the "Who Am I, Mommy?" game that my mother does with her. I KNOW Lola's cognitive function is completely intact. You can see it in her eyes. If you tell her a funny story from when you were a kid, she'll laugh and shake her finger at you, as if to say, "oh I remember that. You were a handful". Besides which when she sees me, she's able to sometimes get out "Lehhhr...Ler...LERNIE!" Personally, and my sister confirms this, I believe she's messing w/ all 10 of her children when she acts like she doesn't know who they are.

For example, on my 39th bday, we were walking around the Descano Gardens when I got a call from my sister. She told me Lola had had another mild stroke, but that she was asking for me. I asked her how she knew that, to which she said, "She's asking for you and Chris (my cousin who shares the same birthday with me). She keeps saying 'Lernie....Chris....birthday'". Lola is really big on remembering EVERYONE'S birthday. She will make sure that each and every one of her kids and grandkids gets a birthday card. She'll even try to sign the card in her shakey writing. My sister went on to tell me that our mom, uncles and aunts were all crowded into the hospital room doing the "Who Am I MOmmy?" game. Lola kept shaking her head and shrugging her shoulders. Finally my mom pointed to my sister and said, "Mommy, who's this?" Lola laughed and replied, "uh...um...LUCY!" My mom got all excited and asked her who she was again, to which Lola laughed again, "Uh...MOMMY SE LUCY!!!" (Mommy of Lucy)

See? Pure mischief. So here's where her mischievous side comes into play when feeding her. She tucks the food into her cheek like a chipmunk and when you least expect it, she spits it up. I kid you not. Then she looks at you like "ah-HAH! gotcha!" Yesterday, I'm happy to say, she ate all her soup, half the chicken and a bit of mashed potatoes. When I asked her if she wanted any of the carrots, she gave me one of her squishy "I don't want it" faces. I laughed a little there and told her, "Hey, Lola! When we were little, you wouldn't let us get away with that!" She just laughed back at me.

As I was feeding her, I just kept looking at Lola's face. She's still really beautiful. Yes, her hair is now mostly white and there are a few wrinkles around her eyes, but for the most part, her skin is very smooth still. I thought about how as each of her children had their own first child, she embroidered each layette with "Baby ___". How her and Lolo would always make a point of spending several weeks/months w/ each of their children's families to help take care of Grandkids. I remember how she was an amazing cook. How she always knew just what favorite Filipino dish each of us kids liked.

Lola should be going home today. I'll call my mom to find out more later. I just wanted to share my thoughts about her. Thanks for reading...

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