Family,  Parenting,  Stories

The Grandest Love Lessons

Webster defines GRAND as follows: impressive; very large in scope; having more importance; foremost; inclusive; comprehensive; chief; principal; lavish; lofty; sublime; very good; wonderful.

The term grandparent, to refer to a parent of one’s father or mother was first used in 1632. Whoever coined the term must have had wonderful grandparents.

But it wasn’t the case for my siblings and I. I never experienced the love of grandparents. From my mom’s side she had a stepmother at a young age and had step brothers and sisters whom her father recognized as his ONLY children. On my father’s side, since my dad was adopted and never loved as a real son, again we did not know much about our grandparents except in the one visit we made to their hometown in Daet and when they came asking for financial support.

While my friends always had stories about how they had such beautiful weekends or summer vacations because of their grandparents, or trips abroad with them, or how their grandparents bought them the newest toys or gave them money, I had no such stories to share. On a first and only trip to my dad’s province in Daet, my stepgrandma was not in the mood and when my elder brothers and sister kissed her, she slapped them and when it was my turn to kiss her, my dad said I did something my siblings would continue to admire as a 4-year old’s act of gutsiness: hold my cheek and run away.

Since then, it was my hope that if I could not experience the love of grandparents, I prayed that God will allow my children to experience it. This hope I claimed from Romans 5: 3-5 “Not only that, but we even boast of our afflictions , knowing that affliction produces endurance, proven character, and proven character, hope and hope does not disappoint , because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the holy Spirit that has been given to us. “

And God who is never outdone in generosity gave my children 2 sets of grandparents from my side and Bob’s side that cared for them in ways that I never imagined before.

Bob’s parents grandparenting style became my inspiration on “being grandma”.

I could try to write out the many good things Lolo Vicente and Lola Lily did for my children, but I guess taking this from my son Ryan’s tribute to his lolo on his 100th birthday says more than I can ever express:

“I’m here to share a few stories about my experiences with Lolo.

Lolo has been a part of my life maybe more than any Grandfather has been a part of any grandson’s life.

1. Lolo was my fetcher.
From my first years in school, Lolo was the one who would pick me up from school when my parents were still at work. I remember being the cool kid because when all my friends had pictures of their drivers and yayas on their fetcher cards, I had a picture of my Lola and my Lolo on mine.

2. Lolo was also my storyteller.
Lolo was the one who would tell me afternoon bed time stories before my naps. He would choose from the more exciting and less popular stories from the Bible and he would read them to me as though it were a children’s book.

3. Lolo was my afternoon disciplinarian.
As a kid I was a nightmare for yayas. They left one after the other after I either teased them until they quit, or played practical jokes on them, or even ran after them with a kitchen knife. When all of them were gone, Lolo became my disciplinarian during the day. I remember one time I was being bratty and he knocked the bratty-ness out of me with his violin bow. That wasn’t the last time I misbehaved, but it was the last time I misbehaved in front of Lolo.

4. Lolo was also my advanced teacher.
When I had homework, Lolo was the one who answered my questions regarding school. I remember one time, when I was around 10-years old in grade school and I went to Lolo with a basic geometry question about computing for the area of a rectangle. After teaching me that it was length times width, Lolo took out a pen and started teaching me how to use sine and cosine to calculate the height of the tree based on the shadow it was casting and the angle of the sun.

There was another time when I was around 11-years old when he asked our helper to call me while I was playing basketball outside. Wondering what it was about, I came into his dining room to ask him what he needed. Right there he sat me down, took a piece of paper and a pen and explained to me how the suspension cables held up the golden gate bridge.

Since as far as I can remember, Lolo has been a part of my daily life. We greeted each other with “moning-moning” every morning when they came home from Mass just in time so the driver can bring me to school. I was the official taster of every batch of morcon, chicken salad, and paella he cooked for all our birthdays, Christmases, anniversaries and all other special non-working holidays. He asked me for daily sales figures of my first stores and remembered the figures even better than I did.

Lolo taught me a lot of life lessons that I cherish dearly. Although they may be too many to list down, there is one particular lesson that I feel is most significant to me.

One afternoon when I was around 6-years old, I asked Lolo if he could teach me to play the violin. He agreed and taught me the basics like how to hold the bow, how to use my jaw to grip the violin and how to press on the strings to make a clear sound. After this, I asked him to teach me more. With this he asked me if I REALLY wanted to play the violin. I said something like “uh… so-so…” Right there he told me that if that was my answer, then violin was not for me. He then put his violin inside its case, and kept it under his chair.

He explained to me how much blood, sweat, and tears it took him to master the art of playing the violin and told me that if I did not have the passion and dedication, then I will not have the strength to go through all this. At this time I was 6 so I thought to myself, “If Lolo thinks that violin is not for me, then I should go watch cartoons.” With that, our one and only violin lesson ended. But together with this came a very important lesson on how to succeed. Lolo had taught me the need for passion and dedication at such an early stage. He made me realize that things are not worth doing and not even worth starting if you don’t plan to put everything you have into it.

Today, as we celebrate Lolo’s 100th birthday and as I look at the person he has been in my life, I realize how influential he has been in my development. So much that when searching for what my passion is, I realized that it is maybe exactly the same as my Lolo’s passion.

Lolo had passion for life.

He lives with such positivity as he enjoys a good meal, appreciates good music, watches a good ballgame, or enjoys a good conversation.

I think this is the secret to not only a long life but more importantly, a HAPPY life. Lolo taught me the need for passion not only as a secret to success but also as the secret to true happiness.

Lolo and Lola left indelible memories in my children’s lives and in mine. They knew exactly when to be present and when to be invisible. They never interfered with our disciplinary practices even if we all agreed that Bob’s punishments were a bit too harsh, Lola and Lolo made time for the kids, served them by driving (Yes, up to age 85!) and cooking for them (Yes, yes, up to age 101!!!) One of the most unforgettable things Lolo did was when he climbed up the lanzones tree to get fruits for us while my son waited with the basket at the foot of the tree. He was 78-years old then. He came down the tree with a jump because he was bitten by red ants and my 5-year old son laughed so hard thinking his grandpa was dancing. Lolo went up the tree again to be bitten by ants again and to dance again because he found his grandson’s laughter adorable.

Lolo and Lola were my idols and mentors as grandparents. Grandparents’ role to us is never about spoiling us with material things. Instead they give us their time and service. They are often great examples of faith, piety and, integrity. In the case of Lolo and Lola, they went to Mass daily and interceded for all our personal intentions. Let’s never afraid to tell them to pray for our special concerns as parents and as husband and wife, just as I did. Whatever I had not experienced in my own life with grandparents, the Lord more than made up for this through the presence of my parents-in-law by leaps and bounds. The Lord has allowed my childhood suffering to teach me endurance and build my character. And He has placed in my heart a hope that has been fulfilled many times over — a hope that does not disappoint. Truly, God puts the “grand” in grandparents.


Aileen Serrano

Aileen Serrani is a beloved daughter of God. Also one of the forces behind the hit musical on the life of St. Pedro Calungsod, "Teen Saint Pedro." Mother to Ryan and his wife Lorce, and Jake, Aileen is also Rafa's grandmother.

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