memories and a secret

I was out of the loop for a few days. Or has it been weeks? This was because I had to go home to the province and grant a dying grandmother's request to see her favorite apo -- and pressure him for the last time to get hitched and settle down. This was then followed by my joining the family in its moment of grief over the loss of its matriarch and helping with the burial preparations, and then reading and processing her last will and testament (Just kidding about the last one, although it really would have completed the picture in your head. Romanticism, I know. Or should I say soap operaish? No, my lola wasn't exactly a filthy rich haciendera and I think whatever piece of land she used to own had already been divided and distributed among her heirs years ago).

Anyway, Lola Meding (for Remedios), was a woman with an iron fist and admirable intelligence. She was also extremely beautiful in her younger days, judging from those brittle and yellowed photographs taken ages ago. She was the "belle of the ball" during her time, my mother -- who took after my granfather in terms of looks -- used to tell us.

I'm not the eldest grandchild, but I have reasons to believe I was her favorite and that she doted on me in her own strict ways. My older cousins went to live in Canada and Australia, and my older sisters and younger brother preffered tugging at my mother's skirt, so I was the only one who really grew up with La Meding. That should go without saying that I was also the one who playfully slammed on the keys of her precious piano and broke it. Sure, I got the scolding of my life, but the fact that La Meding didn't get the thing fixed made me think she wanted it to remain broken as a reminder of my youthful mischief. I also did crayon hieroglyphics on her white living room walls, and earned myself a special one-hour alone-time at a corner, where the antique grandfather's clock stood, as punishment. But Lola refused to repaint those walls some years after, even when there already was a major renovation going on in the house. She wouldn't dare say it, but I know she loved my art.

I was also the one who sat (and stood, sat and stood) on her rocking chair and sent it swinging so hard, it tumbled over and hit her gigantic porcelain vase (while I fell and had an injured arm). Add to that my catching a tiny toad and trying to dissect it alive using her bread knife (good thing my aunt caught me before things got really messy), and then drinking half of whatever's inside those miniature gin and wine decorative bottles displayed on her shelves.

And once, when I was around four years old, I went to church with her. She and her old lady-friends were talking after the service at the parsonage. I was holding her hand and listening to them. Their topic was about the moles on their bodies. (Uh-huh.) One of the ladies discreetly raised her skirt and revealed a huge mole on her inner thigh. I don't know what got to me, but a few minutes later, I raised that lady's skirt (and revealed her beige panties!) and said "Where's your mole again? Lemme see!" Imagine my grandmother's horror! Not only did I get the well-deserved spanking for that very ill behavior, but I was reprimanded by every adult member of the family as soon as they heard about it. Lessons learned: Moles on intimate parts of your body is not a good after-church topic. Don't discuss, much more show, titillating body parts in the presence of a male, regardless of his age. Raising women's skirts without her persmission is impolite.

Yeah, I have a handful of fond memories with La Meding. These were usually connected with things I did that caused me a welt, or a red ear, and tear-filled face, but when I look back, it now makes me smile. I had a very great childhood, thanks to her.

Rest well in heaven, La Meding. Don't worry, I'll marry Althea when she comes back. (So don't go about appearing in her dreams and spoiling the secret, okay?)

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