My maternal grandmother and my last surviving grandparent, passed away at 4am today in a Philippine hospital from complications of pneumonia. She was 98. She is survived by 6 children, 20 grandchildren, and 25 great-grandchildren.
When she was alive, she used to say that she was comforted by the fact that at least two of her grandchildren would remember her when she was gone (As if the rest would not! She was definitely dramatic…I see where my mom gets it from.) because one is named after her and because the other shares the same birthday with her. The grandchild that celebrates the same birthday with her is me.
I will never forget a beautiful memory I have from 2001. I traveled back to the Philippines to co-celebrate our birthdays: I turned 25 and she 94. Early in the morning before the big party, our whole extended family came to her house to greet her happy birthday. She was showered in kisses and hugs. I waited until the crowd subsided and I went to give her my own well-wishes. When I was done, I began to walk away from her when she called my name. I turned around to see her waving her hand and signaling me to return, so I did. When I looked into her face, she said, “Don’t let me forget to greet you because it’s your birthday too.” And then she held my face in her hands and kissed me on both sides of my cheecks. I started to cry, overwhelmed by the poignancy of the moment. She was startled and asked me why I was crying. I told her that I was so happy and I felt so honored to share the same birthday with her. And she smiled.
(These pictures were taken later that day at a birthday party in our honor. The top pic is right before we left for the restaurant. The bottom pic is me blowing out my “25” birthday candles with grandma and mom looking on. There we are, three generations of the D women. I love this photo.)
I love you Lola! May God welcome you home! I look forward to the time when we will see each other again in a place where no pain or sorrow exists.