Saturday, April 16, 2011

A Lola of Great Faith

“Tama na yang TV, magdasal na tayo.”

Nobody moves.

“Magdasal na tayo.”

Still, nobody moves. Eyes fixed on the tube. Ears as if plugged with giant cotton balls.

“Magdasal na tayo. Hindi natin dapat nakakalimutan ang Diyos.”

Much as I want to go on with the pretend-I-didn’t-hear-anything drama, I get up from my seat and turn off the TV, to the dismay of my cousins. Being the eldest in the bunch, I herd my cousins in front of the altar, where Inang had already been waiting for us.

This was how everyday family prayer would start when I was a kid. It was a struggle. Like gulping a spoonful of Tempra when you’re down with fever, you just want it over and done with.

But Inang seemed oblivious to the groans and sighs of her grandchildren come prayer time. She would ignore the dragging feet and the lousy answers to “Hail Mary” and would remind us that God is more important than TV. She wants us to value prayer and to always follow Jesus’ example in everything we do.

For that, I loved and respected Inang–for her faith, her wisdom, and her great love for family. But a greater testament of her faith was revealed in that day after my Tita Lyn was laid to rest.

It was mid-day. The whole family–Inang, my parents, aunts, and uncles–was gathered over lunch. We were talking about Tita Lyn’s death. We lost her when she was run over by a speeding bus. Pure hatred was the only thing we felt for the driver, and we were ready to avenge her murder.

Silent in the midst of the very emotional discussion, Inang suddenly uttered, “Hindi ko pa man sya nakikita, pinapatawad ko na ang drayber na ‘yon.” All eyes were now on her.

I thought, “How could you say that? Didn't he just kill your daughter? Didn't he just run over her several times, ignoring her loud cries for help? Didn't he just rationalize what he did? Why are you being like this? Isn't she important to you?” He had no remorse. He never asked for forgiveness. For that, I will never forget his face. His menacingly proud face will forever be etched in my heart.

As if she had read all the thoughts in my head, Inang burst into tears, "Ipinahiram lang ng Diyos sa akin si Lyn para alagaan ko at mahalin bilang anak, pero sa Kanya naman talaga sya. Kaya pinapatawad ko na yung drayber, dahil parati rin naming tayong pinapatawad ng Diyos."

That left me silent. I felt my eyes start to well up. She was right. Tita Lyn was, first and foremost, God's daughter; He must have already needed her up there. And true. If the God who made all heaven and earth could forgive sinners like us, how could we not pass on the forgiveness to others? Inang felt the pain of the loss, but she saw the bigger picture.

After that memorable day, I loved Inang even more and grew more respect for her. She is more than a daily Mass-goer, more than a prayerful lola, more than a forgiving mother. She is a true servant of God. And I pray to be like her, to be of great faith.


Me and Inang, my lola of great faith

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