Monday, February 09, 2009

In Purple and Full Bloom at 90

I want to keep reading and writing until I turn 90... just like my grandmother, my Lola. Here's a recent photo of us in our favorite colors.

Reading and writing have always been a huge part of my life. My dad would read us bedtime stories. My mom signed us up for Speed Reading and Creative Writing summer classes. Ate Kim and I would write love notes to my parents. I made mini-magazines and scrapbooks as gifts to grade school classmates. A friend and I attempted to write a mini-novel the summer before I left Manila. I read endlessly and tirelessly in middle and high school, and wrote snailmail several days a week. I wrote 10-page essays for Fr. David in Ateneo. I have written three children's books. I've signed up for writing workshops. I wrote a chapter and edited a book on Filipino leaders. I write my life's To-Do Lists. I enjoy reading blogs. I'm currently reading an amazing book. I've started keeping a journal again.

So I'll say it again: I want to keep reading and writing until I turn 90... and beyond.

We encouraged my grandma to start writing her memoirs to share her rich and meaningful life to family and friends. We also said it could make for a great Readers' Digest story; she liked this idea very much, considering she is hardly ever without a copy of RD. I gave her a nice notebook, a writing pad, and pens. Just write, Lols, I said. I can help you type. In her small, deliberate cursive, she created a beautiful story about her mother and the memories and life-lessons she holds close to her heart. I had the honor of typing it out, playing pseudo-editor with some suggestions, and sending it to Papa for him to review (we're a family of editors; I love it) and submit to RD online.
Helping her with her writing brought me back to a wonderful childhood memory of how she had helped me with mine. I had a writing assignment for my Creative Writing class, and I had to come up with a story using characters based on brand names. My 9-year-0ld self was at a loss, but Lols came to the rescue with super suggestions such as Aunt Jemimah and Mr. Clean. She was an English teacher so I had the best coach and editor (see? I told you it runs in the family!). I felt like I had a winning story.

When Papa told me the news that RD would print her story, I had one of those this-was-meant-to-be moments, punctuated with a pregnant pause, and followed by a prayer of thanks. It was a moment I celebrated for Lola, and I guess a little selfishly, for myself. What a milestone a month before she turned 90! I was really so proud of her and I was happy that I pushed her to write.
She was in full bloom on her 90th birthday, radiant in lavender (her favorite color!), glowing and giggly ("I feel like I'm 19," she gushed), and obviously thrilled to see her kids, grandkids and great-grandkids lining up to get her autograph on multiple copies of the January 2009 issue of Readers' Digest. I couldn't help but project myself 60 years into the future. If I were signing books as a great-grandma, I'd be just as ecstatic!
Now I've always admired my grandmother, but seeing her that night reeled me in much closer than before. She has always been our family's tower of grace and strength, and now she also enjoyed the spotlight as a rightful celebrity writer (though she said it wasn't a joke to be like a beauty queen, with all that paparazzi, flowers, and attention!). I love how I can proudly say that I'm a writer - just like Lola.
I had the perfect end to a beautiful evening when I turned to page 11 of my own RD copy. In her beautiful cursive, she had written: Nikki - you inspired me to write this. Love, Lola.
I love you, Lols! You inspired me to write once before, and you continue to do so today... and until I turn 90.


Julia said...

She is beautiful!!! What a wonderful blog entry.

Sana said...


This is so inspiring! Your lovely lola should be featured in local newspapers and magazines to inspire other people to write and read, regardless of your age.

Tell your lola she is indeed beautiful, more beautiful than a beauty queen! =)