Sunday, September 13, 2015

The Wilderness Awaits

When I was in fifth grade I had to live with my maternal grandparents in the province because my paternal grandparents who raised me went to Canada to visit my aunt. I remember this one particular afternoon when I came home from school after placing 2nd at an academic contest. I showed my grandpa the ribbon I got and as he was looking at my prize he got in front of my face and told me, "You know being second is good, but let me tell you what would be great...being first. First means you are ahead of everybody else. First means you're the BEST!" My grandpa was in politics so he was loud all the time. Not in a rude way, but he had this powerful voice that was both inspiring and annoying (at least to a twelve year old girl). Of course it was not his intention to discount my efforts but to challenge me. And boy, did I take that taunt like you would not believe. I was restless and annoyed at the same time. I had to prove myself. So, the next day I told my teacher I wanted to sign-up for the Spelling Bee contest. For eighteen months, I studied. I read day and night learning every word my mind could absorb. I watched my cousins play outside or in the fields, while I buried my head in the dictionary. I was obsessed. I had a mission and that was to prove I could be first. I won the Spelling competition 3x. As a matter of fact, I was the very first student our school ever sent to Regionals. I got that far. However, just like all things, my lucky streak ended and I eventually lost. I was so disappointed in myself. My grandfather with his very loud laugh told me, "Why are you sulking? You got the gold and you've made your point! Go out and play!" I had no idea at that time that those couple of years were going to be a defining moment in my life. From then on, each and every time I would doubt myself, I'd close my eyes and think of that twelve year old girl who got the gold because she worked hard and believed in herself. 

To this day I think one of the very few people who got me and knew how to push my buttons was my maternal grandfather. He teased and provoked me because he knew that I would get back at him by proving him wrong each and every time. He also knew that my obsessions usually had an expiration date. He knew that given enough time and once I got it out of my system, I'd lose interest eventually and that would be it. He gave my Spelling Bee obsession two years and he was right. I remember another time when I told him I wanted to become a fashion designer and instead of fighting with me, he just said okay. That fixation ended after eight months. I also dated this boy whom everybody said he and his family were only after our land. Our relatives told my grandpa to stop me from getting involved with him. My grandpa instead of getting angry and telling me to stop seeing the boy just grinned and watched it all end in a few months. He knew I am that way with things, people and hobbies. He told me one time that I would someday find something that I'd stick to simply because it will bring me joy like nothing else could. The other day as I was doing the dishes, it just hit me. This unexplainable ache and longing for him. I guess that's just how life works. No one really completely gets over a loss of a loved one. It could be a song, a certain smell or even a movie, a favorite dish, a particular month or date. It will just come to you at the most unexpected moment. How you wish you could get another chance to hear their voice, get a hug, see their smile or just hang out with them one last time. I wish he lived long enough to meet my children and to see how my life turned out. This post is for you, Tatay Mading. Happy birthday! I miss you every day of my life. 

Well, that's all I have for today. Thank you for stopping by. 

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