I have been back in the U.S. for a few weeks now and my itinerary was set to take me to Haiti this week for a 3 month clinical internship. However, due to circumstances at the birthing center in Haiti that trip has been cancelled. I went ahead with the first leg of the trip though so I would be able to see my daughter along with some of our friends in the Charlotte area, (which by the way was most eXcellent!!)
With my trip to Haiti canceled I decided to take a few weeks and decompress and investigate other possible options for clinical internships and so I had planned to stay in Charlotte during that time. This plan did not work out either, I am back out west now, we buried my grandmother on Tuesday.
During my flights to Utah I thought a lot about my grandmother, I thought about one of my last conversations with her, I wanted her to know how much she meant to me, how thankful I was for her, the inheritance of family, heritage and the love she had given me. I wanted her to know that I loved her.
When I was in the Philippines I visited the Sisters of Charity Mission for the Destitute and Dying. The ‘lola’s’ or grandmothers there, were well cared for and loved in these last seasons of their earthly lives. While thinking of my grandmother my mind kept drifting back to this place, to the lola’s….
Walking through the small garden with tropical flowers and past the chapel where the women go for morning prayer every day. Into the main area that houses the lolas. The room is large and airy filled with antique iron beds.
There is no glass in the windows that are high on the outer walls and one can see the courtyard on the opposite side of the room. Sisters wearing white cotton saris with blue stripes walk gracefully past going about their day, and out into the courtyard. This common room is sparse of furnishings, I can breathe slowly and deeply here, it has a calming effect on me.
Many of the women sit on their beds chatting with one another. They are clean and well fed, they are peaceful and look relatively healthy. Sweet and gentle, and a few of them wish to talk with me.
Sitting on their beds with them they ask me questions; what is my name, where am I from, do I have children, am I married, why have I come to the Philippines? Most of the conversation is translated by one of the sisters, although one of the women speaks very good English. I sit with these women only a short moment in time on a rainy day.
I sit and chat, hold their hands…I think of my own grandmother while I speak to these women , she is loved and well cared for I know. I wonder how she is doing, which member of my family will be visiting her today, who is holding her hand and chatting with her…..
My grandmother turned 90 last fall, she had lived independently until then. It had only been in the last year that she needed help with meals and cleaning. She was strong in every sense of the word. Although short in stature, she stood out with personality and character with a sharp mind and wit to go with it. She was the daughter of Italian immigrants and the first generation born in the U.S. I loved hearing the stories she would tell about her childhood, or the ones from her 20’s during WWII, her and my great-aunt had many shenanigans together back then. She has left the family now for a new season, one that only gets better and better and is everlasting, but while I am still here, I will miss her.