Thursday, May 05, 2005

My Grandfather

My grandfather was born, Pio Castro. He grew up to become a doctor, during the Japanese-american war he hid among the mountains with the guerillas, after the war he went on to put up The Grace Christian Clinic in Surigao.

These words, the bare facts cannot even begin to encompass the man that was my grandfather. My memories of my grandfather are dim with age, like the sepia-colored photographs that my mother keeps in her albums. Because of the distance between Banaue and Surigao, we didn’t see my grandparents often enough. I do remember that they came to visit us when we were little, and that my grandmother planted orchids in the back of the house where we lived.

My mother says that when I was little, I was my grandfather’s favorite, because I was a roly-poly little girl with big eyes and a round face. In a photograph that my brother scanned for me, my grandfather is holding me in his arms and I am looking seriously into the camera. It saddens me that I cannot remember my grandfather as I wish to remember him. My brightest memories of him are his smile, the curl that fell over his forehead and his big, black eyeglasses.

My youngest brother, Joash, looks a bit like my grandfather and I imagine that my grandfather must have been like that when he was younger. There is a patience and a grace in his manner that cannot be learned. It’s something you’re born with.

When I was a little older, I came to know my grandfather after he already had his first stroke. I see him sitting on the balcony of their bedroom, his cane beside him, basking in the sun with that look of patience on his face and his voice that sounded so soft, it was like listening for the leaves falling onto the ground. When I think about it, there is so much about him that is reproduced in my family. In my uncles and aunts who inherited his eyes, in the slow and patient movements that must have their genetic source in him, in the goodness of heart and the kindness that they exude, and in their just being who they are.

Sometimes, we are so careless of what we have in the moment. Like the tide, we rush onwards impatiently, forgetting to savor the moments that count.

This are the things that I want to say to my son: I want to tell him to hold on fast to these precious moments, to keep his memories like treasures in a box so that he will not be like me, always yearning to go back so that I can hold on fast to the feel of my grandfather’s hand, to the scent of his cologne, and to the sound of his voice.

Stop, I want to say. Stop and treasure each memory because this time will not come again. Our words break and fall against the wall of time, and the young must learn this on their own.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

That is exactly how I feel, it is as if you have been a theif, stolen my deepest regret and desire in my heart and poured it out on this vast blank canvas.

thank you. You are not alone. and neither am I.

01 March, 2007  

Post a Comment

<< Home