I don’t know who my grandfather was; I am much more concerned to know what his grandson will be. -Abraham Lincoln
Stared at his picture taken when he was younger, on his wedding day, with my grandma. And I asked myself, what could’ve been on my grandpa’s mind in the moment when the picture was taken. Have you noticed what I notice in photos taken sometime during 1940s, men usually don’t smile when their pictures are taken or at least they smile conservatively. So I was wondering, “Was he truly happy on this wedding day?” and I answered myself, “Must be of course. But what I am more sure of today is that my grandpa was serious and true with his commitment, his devotion and his vows to his wife, my grandma.” Photo ops of weddings today have couples grinning ear to ear with celebrity-like smiles but how many of these marriages lasts longer than their photos? “Time will tell…” as grandpa quotes.
Two years ago, also in the month of November, I wrote a tribute about my grandma (find her story here: Roses have thorns: A tribute to grandma) who passed away. Now same month, two years later, I’m writing a tribute about grandpa. I wish I had the inspiration to write this tribute stories when they were still alive but I hadn’t, why now? Maybe writing this now helps me cope in my mourning. Even if I’ve written this before, it won’t matter much anyway because my grandparents can barely read or even know how to read. Moreover, grandma was losing her hearing and my grandpa was losing his eyesight and memory too. My grandpa passed away at a good old age of 96. I praised God for his life and the time I have grown with him.
My grandpa (mother’s side) or we call him Tatay Edong from his real name Alfredo was the last among my grandparents who died. I had the privilege of wonderful times growing up as a kid under his wings. My own father died early when I was still five years old. I have not known much of a father-figure in my life as close as to Tatay. He was the typical father with strong leadership quality and responsibility over his family. As a farmer, shepherd, merchant and the village well-known cook, he raised his six children of which 5 are girls and one son as the youngest. My mom was his second daughter. And I was his first granddaughter.
As told by my mother and some stories my grandpa shared with me, he originally came from a rather faraway island and migrated to the south of the country. He and his mother survived the World War 2 with the Japanese. His father was unknown (that’s another story). With the pressing poverty and depression brought by the ruins of the war, grandpa, his mother, his stepfather and stepsiblings stepped on the ship that brought them to the “promise land” down south with a hope to find greener pastures. The land was indeed green as a literal jungle and very primitive. My grandpa has known leadership from taking on and resuming responsibility for his stepfather who became an irresponsible father and then died leaving young children. My grandpa toiled in the land with sweat and blood with his mother and for his step siblings. Time came when he became so much capable to build his own family, he married my grandma (check out more on their lovestory in my post about grandma: Roses have thorns: A tribute to grandma won’t retell it here). He was known to his children as a hardworker, wise and responsible but very strict father. How would he know of parenting when he did not even know his father? By the grace of God, I believe he fathered in the way that he would want his children to have the father he did not have. It is interesting to know that my grandpa’s name is Alfredo meaning “wise or counselor” and he was, true to his name. My mother said, my grandpa became wise because he was a humble man who loves to know the way of wisdom. He does not have a father of his own but he takes time to sit among the wise old people of the village and listen to their proverbs. He, even as a young man does not enjoy sitting and tolerating the nonsense of his fellow young people. One could find him sitting among the elders and learning as much practical wisdom in life.My grandpa was a simple man but his experiences in life were very deep that is why his wisdom is precious. He has been so-called in town as the “Man with Tearfalls”. He was known in town as friendly, outgoing and helpful but he was also strict in a good way man. Most village people know that when he shares his life-story and trials in life to whoever among the village people, his tears fall like a stream… he was also a sentimental man. Up to this day some people name-call/refer to me (and us his grandkids) as “the grandchild of The Man with Tearfalls”.
My grandpa perhaps have not read and known how to read a bible, he did not even completed his grade 2 because of poverty and the war. Now, I had the privilege of being able to read and even write. I owe this so much to him… (my tears falling now…. oh yes I am the granddaughter of ‘The Man with Tearfalls’ see my previous post about this WhenTearsFall ). And whenever I read the bible, I can find some of the sayings he passed on to his own children and even to me as his granddaughter. I can remember his care when I was still 16 years old and leaving my family’s house to study college faraway, he talked to me one on one, and gave me points to remember.
Some people in his town wished there was a record of all his wise but actually a matter-of-fact simple sayings. I try to recapture here some but I think most of these you will find in the bible. Here are few of the many sayings which he has tried to instill to us:
1. Do not sit among the youth talking about nonsense but sit among the old wise people whom you can learn ways to handle life.
2. Do not ‘do things’ at night in the dark, those who do will surely stumble and find harm.
3. Be always ready and sure to have your own stock of rice, salt and matches in your household. Do not be a burden to other people of your basics. Take care of your own basics. Look at the ants who take care of their own stocks and burden.
4. A good tree bears good fruit and bad tree bears bad fruit. A mango tree will not bear a guava fruit. Be careful about the people whom give your trust and confidence.
5. How you think is how you move. Quick mind=quick actions. No idleness & sluggardness.
6. Plan tonight what you want to do tomorrow. Do not plan early tomorrow.
7. God knows. God knows how to give justice, to provide and to order. Do not overrule what God knows best. Let God be God. Do your part and remember you are not God!
8. Stay close-knitted as a family. If your own family is scattered and do not care and respect each other, why would other people care and respect you?
Well, these are few of Tatay’s wisdom. I hope to list all his nuggets of wisdom to share. But I think his life itself tells it. And Tatay captured in his life one of my favorite verses which I consider actually as my life verse found in Proverbs 3: 3-4 “Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man”.
When we had the memorial service in the church upto the cemetery where grandpa was buried, there were so many people who were present and paid respect perhaps people not known anymore to grandpa’s children or to us his grandkids, but people of the town and from afar who know my grandpa because he touched their lives in a way through the 96 years. I don’t like comparisons but just to point out how much favor and good name a man can have like grandpa- there were many people who filled up the church during his memorial service more than in a normal Sunday mass service and more people walked sympathetically to the cemetery than a parade for a high official of town. My grandpa was honorable though he earned no title nor degree, he was not the town’s minister nor a mayor…he was a just a humble husband with one wife, a father to 6 kids, a grandfather to 12 grandchildren and great grandfather to 5 great grandchildren and to some people in town, he was just the “Man with Tearfalls” and those said it all.
Dear grandpa, how I did desire that you would have been able to see in life your great-grandchildren from me as you always have asked me about it… well as you say it, ‘time will tell’… For now, it is just me and my tearfalls yet I smile confident of the wisdom and ability to write you left me with, strength in the sentimentality of allowing tears to fall as I suppose your great-grandchildren would also be called… the great grandchild of the Man with Tearfalls. 😉 In loving memory of you Tatay. In the everlasting arms of Christ finally your soul rests in peace.