The whiff of brewing coffee in the afternoon takes me back 5 years ago to an old hospital by the hillside, as I watched my grandpa in his bed, immobile and in deep pain, fighting his life to the very end.
The sky was pale that day and everyone in the family shared a hazy mixture of a familiar sadness from long ago but I couldn’t quite understand.
But despite that eerie sensation of watching the person you love in agonizing pain, his sun-kissed face and sunny disposition somehow took away all our worries and cushioned them into soft layers of comfort and ease.
“A talent that never fails to amaze me,” I thought to myself.
When a loved one passes away, of course, there’s always a strange and confusing mingling of emotions — especially when the person we loved was the only one who existed in our universe.
I knew that his timely death, though tragic, was something he’d hoped for. Perhaps, because of the fact that all of us were there, an episode in the family that happens rarely. I knew that he loved that we were all together, even for that short time. Ironic, really.
From what I remember about grandpa, he was medium built. His skin toned; his voice stern and deep. We spent the afternoon in the province together; my task, a melancholic habit, was to prepare his coffee to kick-off our afternoon “sessions”. His words, which were then music to my ears as I eagerly listened to his youthful stories in the battlefield (yes, he served the military), gave me a whole new approach for a solution to my doubts (I had a lot of issues in the past), something that would console me and give me inner peace. Afternoons in the province were the best episodes of my childhood days.
“God has been really kind to me,” he said in prayer with his grandchildren three days before his death. “I may not have been good in other things, but I make up for it by providing the intangible and material things for my family.”
He made me realize that I alone can never have everything I want in this world, that in order to cope with life’s challenges, we need to value the people closest to our hearts. He taught me not to flip a coin when in trouble. He made me aware that in this world, little acts of kindness go a long way; that everyone is suffering, and that I should refrain from judging people harshly. He taught me to cherish the gift of years and to pass good will onto others.
I have with me some of the photos that tell a story of a “lolo’s” unconditional love for his “apo” — a love that transcends the sands of time.
I was 18 when he died and it gave him great satisfaction to realize that I was able to carry on most, if not all, his wisdom and teachings, although I will still miss the part of us enjoying our coffee together.