At 95 years of age, she now lays her tired hardworking body on the bed. Her six living children have just visited her to comfort her aging body. I called my mother and asked how grandma was doing since I’m more than 12,000 miles away from home. She said that she sometimes shows moments of strength whenever she is cared for by her family. Her family has grown to more than 36 grandchildren and 20 great grandchildren.
Blessed be my grandmother for she has endured the test of time. Many years ago she would blow air on my head and utter prayers and blessings before I had to go to another island. I remember now why I value the old and hand made things in life.
I can still see her sewing a quilt by hand from remnants of clothes she had asked for from the neighbor’s shop. She would smile and proudly present to me her only hand-made quilt blanket and tell me that she will make pillow cases for my family. We did use her pillows and pillow cases for a long time.
Blessed be my grandmother who takes care of the old and used and made them into valuable items. She would sleep with me and give me a massage whenever I had a fever. That may be the reason why I don’t have to take medications when I have a fever now. She wets me with warm compresses all over my body and massaged me with coconut oil. For different kinds of ailments she would use boiled herbs, chewed plants, incense, chants and prayers. For hours she would stir coconut juice into oil in a hot burning wooden stove.
Her strongest potion was her loving hands that would knead and roll my body and heal me like no other. Like a salesperson for many afternoons she would bring breads and snacks to the farmers in the fields. Blessed be my grandmother who heals and makes every time an important value never to be lost.
Her laboring hands and feet are strong, short and old. She was an apprentice midwife whenever any one of her daughters and daughters-in-law were having a baby. With her strong and commanding voice, she would coach them to bear down and push their babies. She was there to wash them and their babies after birth. Her healing hands provided infant massage and postpartum bliss for a new mother. She was their teacher in the first few years of mothering. Blessed be my grandmother who values herself as a woman and mother.
She would tell us stories of her adventures during World War II. Every day her family had to move to another hiding place away from the Japanese. She would be carrying two pots full of cooked yams or rice and chicken adobo. She would also feed the evacuating friends and family from the city. She made sure that she comforted her children every minute of the day. It took 40 years before her younger son left her to marry. But even then, her younger son would always see her everyday and give her bread and snacks. Blessed be my grandmother for her caring ways.
Every time there was someone who needed to be prayed for, she is summoned. She prayed and chanted in Latin and Visayan. She led the prayer meetings. She taught us her grandchildren how to respond and pray with her while we giggled at the foreign words. She never spanked us her grandchildren but her voice propels us to follow her just like our mothers. Maybe she was the other mother who mothered us when our mothers were busy. She was there when we are young and helpless. Blessed be my grandmother who taught us how to kneel and pray and sing vespers.
When everyone in the family is afraid she shows her strength and courage. When friends are mourning she prays with them and when one is sick she lays hand on her/him. When one is in crisis like quarreling husband and wife, she is the mediator. She made sure that we respect the old people. She made sure that we have said our prayers. Blessed be my grandmother Claudia Defensor Poral for she taught me how to cry, be strong, be a woman and now be a mother.