Nanay Torang was your typical old Lola: she wore dasters and slippers, walked slowly and quite often forgot the names of her children and apo.
She took care of most of her twenty-five or so "apos" during her younger days. I remember those times when I miss her because she was in Cebu, having a vacation, while taking care of the little ones.
A cousin reminded me that she used to steal photos from our photo albums. We would only discover the loss when someone would fix her things and see the photos safely tucked between documents and clothes, or when we visit her home in Balamban, Cebu - for there in one wall in the bedroom are some of the stolen photos of her precious apos, stuck in between woven nipa leaves.
She loved ice cream. Whether it's the dirty ice cream from the "mamang sorbertero" or the more creamy and costly ones, she loved them. My parents would send her allowances whenever she was in Cebu. And during her birthdays, their instructions to my aunt (one of Nanay's children) where Nanay stays , would be to buy ice cream for her. We often teased her by giving her only a spoonful of ice cream on a big mug and she would make face and say, "Ang konti naman!"
Nanay's feet were the smallest feet I've seen on someone I know. She is only a 4 1/2. We love buying her sandals because they really looked cute when she wore those tiny shoes. She has the nicest nose in the family - small and pointed, not the typical nose of the clan - flared and flat. She is also petite. Like me, she did not reach 5 feet at all. And I sometimes think that physically, I got my genes from her.
Oh how she loved playing solitaire! She could sit for hours in a corner, with a flat board on her lap to hold her cards and play solitaire over and over again. And what's more amazing is that she continuously hummed or sung all throughout her playing session. Her repertoire would range from the old Visayan songs to the never-before-heard tunes because she just created some tunes as she hummed.
When people ask me if anybody else in the family sings, I always point to her first, then my Papa, as the only ones in the family who sing. And when people ask me where I got my height, or the lack of it, I always answer: Nanay Torang. The same applies to my baby fat (though my fat have now turned into "oldy" fat).
I admire Nanay Torang for her carefree attitude. When we were very young, she put rice on a pot, put the pot on the stove, opened the stove and suddenly we heard a crashing sound. It turned out that she did not raise the transparent/colorless glass top cover of the gas range. When Papa asked her what happened, she just said in her typical carefree attitude, "Ay sorry." She would often just shrug her shoulders and say sorry when she makes a mistake.
It is this nonchalant attitude that endeared people to her. With her, everything should not be taken too seriously and I believe I got this trait from her too.
Over the years, her memories faded to the point where she did not know who we are anymore. Although she recalled the names of her family, the faces that go with the names were altogether forgotten. She started thinking of herself as a young girl. She even fought with my little cousins, thinking that they were only her playmates.
But she never forgot her home in Aliwanay, so that was where she would go to whenever she would sneak out from the house. It had become a necessity to assign a family member to guide her wherever she was for fear that she would sneak out and get lost in the streets, or get hurt, which, for several times, had happened. Sometimes, pedicab drivers would bring her home because she was seen walking home to the next town, all alone and not remembering where she came from.
This was the reason she never visited us in Cavite, or my other cousins in Project 8 and in Laguna anymore. And we missed her so.
Last week, after a stroke, she was comatosed for days. Operation was not recommended due to her age (she was 89) and her frail and emaciated state. Her children were told by the doctors to just wait for her to give up.
And she did. Yesterday. Before lunch.
She had touched our lives so deeply that her absence left a big hole in our hearts. To borrow the words of a cousin, "Nanay, you may not remember us anymore, but you will always be remembered... and missed."
Happy flying with the Angels!