My grandmother Maria (father’s mother), is officially 90 year old. She is frail looking, with salt and pepper long hair that has always been in a bun. When I was younger she reminded me or a witch, with long hair (still in the infamous bun) and bad teeth. Growing up in the Philippines didn’t gift her with dental care.
She smoked tobacco and not cigarettes and not cigars you bought from the store. She made her own cigars and would buy tobacco leafs from someone in the Philippines and had it someone pack it with them when they traveled back and forth from the motherland. I remember her unwrapping the dark brown leaves and she would iron them out flat before rolling them up into a fat cigar and letting me strike the match that she would use to light one end of the cigar. She would sit on the stairs in her old woman duster dress, long hair in a greasy bun at the nape of her bony neck. She would smoke that sucker and spit like a man.
My grandmother had a rocky almost nonexistent marriage to my grandfather, Filemon, may he rest in peace. I never knew the full story of their doomed marriage, but they stayed married, but separated since their generation didn’t believe in divorce. Together my grandparents created 10 children, 5 boys and 5 girls, of which 1 daughter died soon after being born. My grandmother birthed 10 children, without a hospital in the Philippines. See, they don’t make women like that anymore, and if they do, they live in 3rd world countries.
Tonight, we all came together. Five of her children, 2 are deceased, 1 is feuding, the others live on another island or the Philippines. A bunch of her grandchildren, once again, we are quite scattered, but at last count she had 30 grandchildren and even 30 great grandchildren. I wondered tonight as she watched of the gathering, did she think as I did? Did she think, wow, from my womb I gave birth to THIS. This life, these creations begetting creations. Her legacy lives on and will continue to because our family LOVES having children. But from her body a whole society has emerged. A-mazing. Really. Happy Birthday Grandma 🙂