TO BE 98

This grand lady is my Nanay. She is my paternal grandmother and she is 98 years old. She disagrees, however. “I am 99.” She claims. “I have a cedula* to prove it.”

She is in pretty good health.  For a  98 or 99 year old, that is.  She walks slowly, is hard of hearing and has a poor vision.

“Nanay,  we are here!”

“Who are you?”

“Med and John and our children.”


“Med, your beautiful granddaughter!” (There are exclamation marks because we are speaking at the top of our voice so that she could hear us.)

“Ah, Med!”  She said smiling.  I told you, she can barely hear.  Otherwise, she would have replied  “Uris-uris!”** as she used to  say whenever I teased her.

She was happy and chatty during this visit.   She even offered us refreshments.

The next one was  a different story.


She was lying on her bed, just waking up.  “Who are you?” she asked me and my cousin,  Sonia, her niece.  When she finally remembered who we were, she turned to Ate Sonia and asked – “Where is your mother?”

Ate Sonia  and I looked at each other before she replied – “She is at home, Auntie.”

We did not dare tell her that my cousin’s mother, sister-in-law to my Nanay, had been dead for a long time.

“How is your father?” Nanay asked my cousin again.

As you may have guessed, Ate Sonia’s father is also dead.

After some time, Nanay remarked “Everybody has left me.  I am now alone.”

Her eyes started to tear up.

These days, there is not much that she can do.  When she is up to it, she walks to the porch and watches people come and go.  She even indulges in one habit that she has had for as long as  I can remember:


During my first visit, I asked –  “Do you still smoke with the lighted end inside your mouth?”  She laughed.  She still does.

It may be ironic, but I hope this one hobby sustains her  when she is feeling alone and lonely and tired.

When I last saw her, she said “I am tired.  I want to go.”

“No, you will live to be 200 and we will have a big party on your 105th,”  I  replied.  That may be wishful thinking.   But it will be nice to see her again.


*Community Tax Certificate

** Crazy; deranged

I am linking with Jakesprinters’ SUNDAY POST:  BLACK AND WHITE.


34 thoughts on “TO BE 98

    1. Hi Truthaboveallreligions. 🙂 I wish I can tell her that – I am now half a world away from her. One day, I pray, I may be able to convey to her yours and everybody’s well wishes. 🙂
      I agree with you, they are wise and have a better life perspective.

    1. Thank you for the comment and visit, Diane. I think I agree with you. Somehow, I felt the loneliness and tiredness of my grandmother. It seems that there was nothing she is living for – but perhaps – the loved ones who visit her once in a while. Her husband, my grandfather, has been gone for 6 years now and my grandmother misses him a lot. One time, my cousin caught my grandma kissing a picture of my grandfather.

  1. Nice photos. You should get her to tell you about when she was little. I wish I had gotten the story of my grandmother when she was alive, but I didn’t think about it.

    1. Thank you, Connie T.
      Unfortunately, I was not able to do that when she was younger and had better memories and I was living near her. What an unfortunate thing – except that sometimes we realize it only at hindsight.

  2. This is beautiful. The bit of humor (smoking cigarettes backwards) offset the sadness and loneliness she felt when she realized the loved ones who had passed away before her. I hope she isn’t in a hurry to see them again, and you get to go to her 105th birthday.

    1. Thank you, Janna. 🙂 I hope so too, though she is getting more frail by the day. Though, that may not be too farfetched. One of her neighbors died at a 105. The latter’s younger sister is now 100 and seems to be fine for her age.

  3. Awww, how sweet. My Oma and Grandma are gone but how wonderful you still have your Nanay. I think sometimes getting older can bring with it such a bittersweet flow to life.

    1. Thank you for the nice words, Chelle. Yeah, it is nice to have a grandma. She is the family anchor these days – cousins and relatives gather for her birthdays.

  4. Oh wow. She reminds me of my grandmas. they were in their late 80’s before God took them. Each wrinkle, a reminder of the amazing journey they made with their families, of love, tears, joy and the many spectacles of life. Beautiful!

    1. 🙂 You know, I always thought that she is one of the most beautiful women I know. Of course, I am biased. 🙂 She is my grandmother – from my father’s side of the family.
      Thank you for the nice words and the visit, Madhu. 🙂

  5. My granny is turning 98 in couple of months, but she still remembers everything and has no trouble hearing and does not wear eyeglasses. She had some minor health issues in the past but she still can cope with a little help. I promised her a big birthday bash when she turns 100! Nice photos you have here… gives me an inspiration to visit my Mama Cing and take a portrait of her in B&W. Mabuhay ka Med! 🙂

    1. How wonderful! I hope your grandma has a fabulous birthday. 🙂 Pag-ipunan mo na ang 100.
      Thank you for the visit and nice words. Mabuhay ka rin, Kapitan. 🙂

      1. Yeah we are all hoping for the grand centenial bday of my lola. I’ll invite you to come by 2014! 🙂 Ingatz & God Bless po.

  6. wow. as far as old age, my kids have only seen my 1 aunt who was 90…they looked at her for a long time…and talked about her for a long time…and used her birth yr as a frame of reference. i wonder what life is like at that age?! she is very pretty.

    1. Thank you for coming by and the comment, Annemarie. I think she was happier when my grandfather was alive, but he died about 7 years ago. She misses him a lot and I think that contributes a lot to her tiredness and desire to go.

  7. Aww! I was at a 96th birthday party for my aunt the other week. Isa is in a nursing home and quite sprightly now, but she was very poorly before she went there. I can remember her saying “you can live too long you know”, and I have to agree.

  8. This is bitter sweet but a beautiful opportunity to learn more about her story… I hope you see her again… Interview her for the family archives… Poignant. 😉

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