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I am a proud Filipina social worker. I take changing the world for the better seriously. I enjoy life while helping people. I love being an agent of change. Hopes up for humanity!
How do you let go of someone who had been with you for 60 years? Yes, I meant 60 years, approximately 21,900 days, or 31,536,000 seconds. In my previous essay, I mentioned about my parents who separated when I was still young. It affected me in a way that I doubted the credibility of love lasting a lifetime. But there was this couple who made me believe otherwise. They are our relatives, our grandparents. In January 2018, they celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary. As they renewed their vows and held each other's hands, I could still see the love and care they have for each other. I asked myself, "How does love stand still for 60 years?" During the celebration, they shared about how they started from scratch and earned they way up to success. I have heard countless stories about their struggles and trials, stuff that would make you wonder what made them choose to stay. They had mistakes and shortcomings that can never be undone. There are still consequences from wrong decisions in the past but they were standing in front of us, their love so intimate as if they met each other yesterday. In August 2019, grandpa was diagnosed with an illness. I can still remember the day I visited grandma in their house. It was Thursday. She was alone because he was in the hospital for a surgery. While grandma and I were talking, the phone rang and she answered. It was grandpa. She said, "Are you ready for your surgery tomorrow? You can do it." She was very calm and confident that grandpa would return after the surgery. As I was staring at her, I noticed that her hair was all white but her love never grows old. I smiled and told myself, "You are lucky to witness such rare love." It was Saturday. I woke up feeling uneasy. As I was preparing my breakfast, I received a call from my uncle. He said, "He did not make it. He's gone." I was speechless and I did not know what to say. I cried for a few minutes and thought about grandma. That evening my family and I went to their home. We were waiting inside her room. She went out of their bathroom, gave us a blank stare, and we ran to give her a tight hug. Tears started to fall from our eyes. It was pure silence and sadness. There were no right words to utter but I know we made her feel that she is never alone. Days passed by and I tried my very best to visit grandma regularly because I knew the following days would be very difficult for her. There were times we would laugh at things and memories, and she would cry seconds later. She still sleeps on one side of their bed, she still prepares two plates and two sets of utensils every meal.And I kept on asking myself, "How do you let go of someone who had been with you for 60 years?" I actually felt scared to invest so much love and time in a person just to wake up one day and realize you already lost him. As someone new to adulthood, I feel unprepared to go through life and witness significant people leaving us one by one, either by death or by choice. There is fear in my heart but seeing grandma doing the same things the she had been doing for grandpa, I realized that just because the person is gone and you cannot hear or touch him anymore, does not mean you stop loving him. I learned that it's not about the day you finally say goodbye, but it was about the sixty years you've spent together when it could have been just forty years or less. There will always be pain for grandma because he has been a big part of her, and life for her would never be the same again. But I realized that their sixty years of being together continuously inspires people like me to love fearlessly and stand by it firmly. If I will be lucky enough to live sixty more years, I will pass the love I have witnessed to the next generations and remind them to cherish every moment and to always choose love.
I remember the first day of showing Avengers: End Game in the Philippines. I have never seen such crowd in a cinema before. It looked like everyone left their homes to be the first ones to watch it. People are going crazy over superhero stories and I understand why. Superheroes make things easier; they turn the impossible into something possible. One of the best things that I like about them is they are mostly kindhearted, not to mention cool creatures. They are unique in a way that they have superpowers and use them for good purposes. Stories of superheroes can be very enticing and exciting. They have such dramatic origins that somehow capture the viewers. Besides their superpowers, revealing their weaknesses makes humans like us empathize with them. I have a superhero story which changed my life. It is one of a kind and something that I will keep forever. My birth was undesirable because both my parents were unprepared during that time. I was years ahead of my planned arrival and my birth changed their lives. Four years later, my brother was born. I remember having a simple life growing up with him. Our extended family had enough to survive and our life was nothing close to extravagance but we were happy. In September 2000, my grandfather died and it changed everything. Having lost our breadwinner, we had to make adjustments in budgeting and spending. It was also the start of misunderstandings between my parents which eventually led to their separation. We lost our savings because of an investment scam. Everything was not sinking in until when I finished my primary education. The consequences of those happenings penetrated our lives. I was angry. I knew I was because I could feel my teeth baring; I was feeling hot and flushed inside. I could not hear anything aside from my increased heart rate. I wanted to take revenge. During those toughest times of my life, someone stood by my side. She is my grandmother. When my grandpa finally succumbed to an illness, grandma assumed all his responsibilities. Honestly, when he was still around, I did not enjoy her company. She was always wearing a white coat with her thick eyeglasses on. She wanted everything to be in order, and her presence alone would scare anyone away. She, unlike grandpa, was very particular with house rules and limitations. As a kid, I didn't like how she was and I remember doing everything just to avoid her. Unfortunately, I had no choice but to stay with her. She was getting stricter as days passed by and there were some days I just could not handle. She had rules that were too good to be true, but the grandchildren needed to obey. One day, I was asked to accompany her at work. As we arrived at our destination, people have already lined up like those in supermarkets during holidays sale. Grandma wore her white coat and started talking to those people. She is a doctor. She would raise her eyebrows at parents whose babies were obviously not receiving the right care. She was fierce but compassionate in a way that she spent extra time and even almost skipped meals just to accommodate more patients. After that experience, I started to see her from a new lens and recognized those things she has been doing for us. She would provide for our needs and even help us with our assignments. She would encourage us whenever my brother and I had competitions, and would tell us how proud she is whether we win or lose. Her rules helped us understand and embrace the value of self-control and self-discipline. One day, I noticed a big scar on her chest and found out she is a cancer survivor. Her scar says a lot about how much of a survivor and fighter she is. The pain she went through is beyond my comprehension, yet she chose to live and overcome her own trials. My grandmother reminds me that sometimes it is good to fail and not get the things that I want, because failures keep me grounded, and influence me to work harder. She has taught me that the best investments in life are those that money cannot buy. Cherish relationships, value integrity, and do good. At present, my brother is a soldier and I am a social worker helping those individuals and families who are recovering from the ill effects of substance abuse. We are helping people in our own ways. My grandmother is still with us and we are doing our best as grandchildren to give her what she deserves, and to make her even prouder. Not all superheroes have superpowers just like my grandma. She can neither go through walls nor run as fast as a cheetah, but she has something extraordinary with her and I call it “love.” Her love saved me from those times I almost gave up; her love outweighed my anger and made me appreciate the brighter side of situations. Because of her love, I have learned to forgive and live a life that I can be proud of, a life that is of service to people. My grandma cannot fly, but she has always been and will always be my superhero.