Lolo Emiliano may go home to Jesus any time now. His body has significantly weakened in the past days. He repeatedly shares that he could see Lola Juana, Tito Mar, Kakang Cesar, Lolo Donying—loved ones who had passed on years ago. He says they are inviting him to join them. He sometimes succumbs to hallucinations; seeing ants and things on fire, removing his clothes. He talks non-stop at times about their life in the farm, even telling mommy not to forget to take care of the carabao (which used to be her assignment when they were still in Quezon). Yesterday, he was mostly staring at us, listening to conversations, raising his right hand, as if reaching out to someone or something. Sigh. It is just a matter of time.
And I’m preparing my heart for the blow. I’m quite sure mommy and her siblings are also doing the same, as well as my siblings and cousins and nephews and nieces. We’re trying to spend as much time with him as we can. I’m learning that there can never be a substitute for the gift of presence.
When grampa goes home, he’ll be free from his ailing body. He will perhaps ask Jesus for some tools so he can go back to carpentry, which he’s so passionate about but had to give up because of his weak body. He’ll be reunited with Lola Juana. Oh what a sweet, glorious reunion it will be! And most importantly, his faith will be sight. He’ll be seeing Jesus face to face. Face to face. What joy, what glory it must be!
But he’ll be sorely missed here. Like Lola Juana.
The Lord, in His goodness, has blessed us with godly grandparents. I pray that I will live out and never forget the values they possess. Strong faith in Jesus, love for His Word. Value of hard work and industry. Living simply and contently. Finding joy in all things. Importance of family, no matter the differences. Forgiveness and love. Always love.
I grew up in an evangelical community. Christian home. Christian church. Sunday School. Children’s choir. Youth fellowships. Church organizations. Bible studies. The works. And with the works inherently comes the script.
This kind of background begets a culture, which also begets a certain lingo—standard responses to topics, concerns, or issues. Script. I’m not exactly sure when I started using it. But I remember I was the kind who always had answers to anything. And my kind of answers were the ones expected from somebody who grew up in my kind of community. It would follow that whenever I would be with people who were of different upbringing (not evangelical), I always had ready comments for their questions, musings, and opinions—solicited or otherwise. I remember, I was not gracious. I just had to say what I felt was needed to be said. Script. The people I talked with, they were the gracious ones for I could not remember a time when they walked out on me nor slapped me with sarcastic reply.
Fast forward to the present. I realized I have friendships that drifted apart through time. And it occurred to me that these friendships might have suffered from my ungracious attitude and bigotry. I was too dogmatic, very Pharisee-ic. I did not know how to listen. I did not know how to get along with people who have different background or perspective from mine. I was too keen on sticking with the script that I did not care about the hearts I could have been hurting nor the egos I could have been wounding. I did not realize then that presence is more important than the script. That grace is more compelling than dogma.
I know that a little bit more now. It was only in the past few years that I began to understand how lavishly I’ve been given grace. Should God give me another shot at those friendships, I am hoping that I will show more grace and more love. I am hoping that I will be a better friend—sans the script.