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.