“Tilyambong (name of endearment) you are special and smart,” grandpa Anselmo always complimented me. Only Grandpa gave me a nickname and addressed me with it. I do not know what and why he used such name instead of Lilian. Whenever he shouted, “Tilymabong bring your basket here.”
I ran because I knew that he had goodies for me.
Grandpa’s home stands on several acres of coconut farm surrounded by creeks. Grandpa carved steps on a steep hill going down the streams. We fetched drinking water from the crystal springs using a bamboo poles. He made a small bamboo poles for me to fetch water with him. Grandma carried the dirty clothes on top of her head in the big basin. He bought a small basin for me to wash the clothes like Grandma. He prepared a washing spot on the side of the stream with neatly arranged stones, bamboo beams and roof from coconut leaves.
Varieties of fruit, vegetables, and spices garden surrounded the farmhouse like a paradise. The wooden pegs and bamboo strips fence had creepers bearing pumpkin, white squash, and string beans.
The chickens roamed in the compound. In the morning we gathered eggs from the man made nest under the home and in the grassy area. Grandpa taught me how to chop coconut meat into feeds for the chicken.
My grandfather was an extraordinary farmer, handyman, and generous to his family. He influenced me to love gardening and planting trees that led me to become a Forester.
His home was made of wooden beams, wooden panels and with bamboo slats as floor and wall with galvanized iron roof. When it rained you heard the trickling rain on it.
My grandfather sold the farm produce to the town flea market by walking and seldom rode on a water buffalo.
Grandpa would give me a ride on his shoulders from the farmhouse to the town and back crossing the rivers and walking about 10 km (approximately 6 miles) with poles on his shoulder with a bundles of coconut charcoal on each side. He delivered it to my auntie for fuel.
My Lolo (grandpa in Filipino) whistled and walked as if he did not carry anything. The faster he walked the tighter I held on his forehead. I could not imagine how he walked in the river with strong current in the afternoon when the hydro-electric dam opened.
I enjoyed shopping with him at the toy stores, groceries and eating in the restaurants in the capital town. Riding on a public transport was luxury for me.
My cousins loved to take vacation in the farmhouse during summer break from school or visit the farmhouse during weekends. Grandpa cooked rice cake and other delicacies made from sweet rice or flour. He gave me double portion of any food he’d prepared.
I laughed whenever Grandma’s reprimanded him, “Anselmo you are like burning our home when you lighted so much firewood in that wooden stove. Slow down!”
He giggled, “I want to cook fast. Kids are waiting.” Lolo moved like a lightning flash.
My aunties, uncles, and some of my cousins whined about Grandpa’s favor to me. They labeled me as “Grandpa’s Princess.”
Grandpa ignored their complaints. When he bought treats from the town he gave them all to me and instructed me to distribute it to my cousins.
One day, my Dad spanked me for not sharing equal portion to my cousins of the treats that he bought for me. That taught me fair sharing.
I learned writing my name and reading the alphabet at the age of four with my mother’s instruction at home. Grandpa was my cheerleader especially when the school official made an exemption for me. They required all first graders to be seven years old but my persistence as six years old persuaded them.
As the school year progressed, my academic performance got me to the first honor position. My classroom teacher visited my family and broke the news about my success as the youngest of the first grade during the school year 1963 to 1964.
Grandpa was proud of me and shared my excellent performance at school to anyone he talked to. He bought his new clothes in preparation for my awarding ceremony on March 1964.
In September 18, 1963 early morning, Grandpa could not move his body nor speak. Grandma called us. Relatives and neighbors came in the farmhouse. One of my uncles rode a horse and called a doctor (Grandpas’ nephew) from the town to treat him.
My father insisted to rush him to the town hospital but the doctor said, “Uncle’s body is rejecting the medication and the dextrose that I administered. There is no reason to confine him in the hospital.” After two days he passed away.
Relatives and friends in our community mourned with us. Grandpa had a grand funeral interment. There was a musical band that played his favorite songs. Word of comfort, gifts, money, and appreciation showered us. His death shocked us.
My young mind grieved and wondered, “How can Grandpa die before my awarding ceremony?”
During the school closing ceremony my heart and mind longed for Grandpa’s presence.I reflected on his dream to go to the stage with me to pin my ribbon as first grade pupil with honors.
I owed my self-confidence to grandpa Anselmo’s love and his constant affirmation. I will cherish his immeasurable love till my last breath on earth. When challenges bombarded me the loving support of Grandpa helped me realized that God’s love and power is greater than Lolo’s and would carry me through one day at a time.
Recently, we were recalling his loving and funny way of entertaining us in the farmhouse. His usual commands to family members, “Gather eggs, harvest the ripe papayas, avocados, vegetables, coconut vinegar and honey, and rice delicacy to take to your home.”
Grandpa’s kindness expressed in love even with imperfections taught me the joy of sharing and value of hard work. Being Grandpa’s princess, I can’t help but chuckling about my treasured good old farmhouse memories.
God bless you and your loved ones. Feel free to contact me for any prayer concerns or comments you have.