She appears before me in the dark. Shredding through sleep, she forces me to look into deep, endless tunnels that reveal flashes of her face. Silver hair. Wrinkled brown skin. Laugh lines and smiling, mahogany eyes. Tribal marks that have been forever etched into her skin. These are my few and fading memories. I try to look away, but I can't. She holds me fast with the iron grip of remembrance. Her cries shudder through me, for we both feel loss. We realize once again that Time has robbed us, and its greedy fingers took her away to rice fields and huts. The mountain air reverberates with festival tribal beats, and it is here she waits for Time to steal us as well. 
This was a short writing originally done in honor of my lolo (grandpa) when he passed. However, earlier this week, I found out through a long distance phone call that lola has passed as well, and I decided to rewrite it to fit her. I feel a weird disconnect about this. She was never someone I was particularly close too, seeing as how the language barrier prevented any real bonding. But that doesn't mean she is any less to me. I respected her, despite the vast differences between us. She was a tough woman who lived a hard life.

Also, she was always...there. Whenever I visit the Philippines, the first thing I associate with these trips is the old woman I know will be sitting on the couch, wrapped up in layers of clothes, dozing off, and occasionally waking to regale everyone with tales from the past. She could go on for a long time, talking and talking in that unfamiliar language, and I would pester mom to translate. I still feel a sense of loss at not knowing everything she said. If I could, I would sit by her side for hours just listening to the amazing stories I know she had - if only I could understand! But I never did, and now I never will - not in this lifetime at least. That opportunity has been lost.

I still remember the one time she visited us here in the States, along with lolo. My favorite memory is one where my young self was squealing in delight as we had a beanie baby war. I ducked behind living room furniture and bombed away with my little stuffed animals, and that spunky old woman winded up and threw them right back at me! Ah man, I'm sitting here smiling just remembering her rasping laugh and excited chatter in her foreign language. There was also a time when she observed me discover a dead bird on the sidewalk. Instead of squealing and running off, I stopped, and gently scooped it up (with gloves on, don't worry) and buried it in a nice box I made. She never forgot that, and apparently, when she returned to her homeland, she told others about how sensitive and thoughtful her American granddaughter was. 

I may not have understood her very well, but I could swear she was the most intuitive woman I've ever known. She understood me even though she didn't speak English. 
She taught me you don't need to speak the same language to make a connection.

So this is for you lola - the woman I never understood, but learned about with my heart.
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:38-39


Color-Block said...

so sweet and emotional <3
i have no other words

Sam said...

Dear Linda, I am so sorry for your family's loss. Your words are so profound, emotive and meaningful, they speak volumes and beautifully describe your lola, she sounds like a truly strong and inspiring woman.

SaraM said...

Linda, I'm so sorry. That's so tough. But remember that you'll see her again. It'll be a while, but you'll be reunited. :) I know she's so proud of you in all you're doing. Doubtless she's watching over you right now. Stay strong, girly! Love ya!


Shopaholic said...

great blog!

Maiken said...

I read about the sad news from a comment under Katie's post and I'm so sorry, dear Linda. but I'm sure she's going to watch over you whenever you need it :)
it was a beautiful post to read though. so sincere and thoughtful.

Maikeni blogi - part of me

Tanya W. said...

I'm so so sorry for your loss. hope all is well honey! by the way, I following your twitter, hope you follow back to keep in touch on a twitter world @mustwearthat @attraction2fash

I use both accts and RT for all of you new post if I catch you post! ox


Anonymous said...

So Sweet!

I Love this old Tattoo!


Marsa said...

you are such an amazing writer! so are these pictures of her?
i remember losing my grandma. it was really sad. but their memories are still with us at least :)
and even though you didn't understand her stories, those times that you spent with her will always be with you <3

Kym said...

Linda, I'm so very sorry to hear about the passing of your grandmother. What you wrote is truly a special way to honor her. It brought a tear to my eye. If she could have read this, she would just be that much prouder of you!!

Also, I'd love to know the story behind her tattoos sometime. It's pretty rare to see women of that age with full sleeves :) Her tats totally rock!

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Jessi said...

Linda, this is such a beautiful post! I love the piece you wrote her and that powerful scripture at the end. I'm so sorry for your loss, she seemed like an amazing, strong woman just like you.

Dominika said...

I am so sorry for your loss. I remember when you first posted photos of her on Facebook; she looked like a really special lady with a lot of interesting stories to tell. I'm sure she's watching over you and your family right now, stay strong xxx

Mica said...

So sorry for your loss Linda.

That bible verse is particularly helpful in such a time. She sounds like a lovely lady and her memory will live on through you.

Away From Blue

dinda belle said...

So sorry for that, I knew how it feels when we lost someone we love and she's our granny :') cheer up !

shamuboo said...

What a moving tribute. I feel like a I know her a little now and certainly wish I knew her more. You are a powerful writer when you let your heart lead. Condolences, dear.

Kim Alston said...

Linda, I'm so crying right now! You just saw her! I remember you writing about her and the pictures of her. I am so sorry. Please give your family my condolences. Language may have been a barrier, but I truly feel you both connected on another level because the message did get across. I am so shocked! I knew she was older but she looked very strong. Cherish your memories and she will always be within you. ((hug))

Chai Chen said...

Sorry about your loss dear. She's in a better place now.

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Ilana Morgan said...

Linda I hope you are doing ok sorry to hear this
xo Ilana @ My Modern Vintage

Mira said...

I´m so sorry about your loss. I know this is a hard time for you and out of my own experience I know that words are not much helpful <3


Danny said...

so sorry for your family's loss. your lola sounds like a great and inspiring woman, who lived a full life.

Avi said...

It is a sad and wonderful story. I remember read your story of your grandma when you went to Philippines. I'm so sorry for your loss. I know this is a very hard time. RIght now, my grandpad is so sick :c

My best wishes for you and your family!

Mary ♡ Fashionbirds said...

I'm sorry for your loss and wish you and your familiy all the best.

Lots of love

Ali Hval said...

Oh Miss Linda, I am so sorry to hear about your loss. This post is such a lovely reflection and so well written. I am sorry that she will not be there in your life physically anymore, though I am sure she would not want you to dwell over her passing because she'll always be there in spirit with you. <3

Rory said...

Linda, this is beautiful. I love that you make your blog not just about fashion but about you. Thanks for always opening up for us! I am keeping you in my heart <3 <3 <3 Both your lolo and your lola seemed like amazing people!

Renae at simple sequins said...

oh Linda! So beautifully written. Your respectful voice is full of love for your Lola. I don't usually get on the computer on Sunday but I did today and am so glad I had a spiritual experience with you, today. (hug)

Katie Q. said...

This is such a sweet memorial to your lola. I envy your way with words, you were really able to portray your lola and your emotions and I feel so bad for your loss. Your posts from the islands were so fascinating partly because of her, I always always intrigued and wanted to know more about that amazing lady. I'm so sorry you didn't get to have more time with her but from the sounds of it, it seems like she really knew what an amazing, sweet, kind and caring young lady she had for a granddaughter.

Halie said...

May you grieve and accept. Stunning pictures.

Alexa said...

such a wonderful and touching post. Very sorry for your loss. This is beautiful and I adore the pictures. Much love

Alexa <3

erica marie said...

So sorry for your loss Linda, this was a beautiful post to write in honor of her. It really is true that you don't have to speak the same language to be able to know love.

xo erica

The Garage Starlets said...



aw sorry to hear about your lola, hope your okay x

-Tara x

Aga Guerrero Olesinska said...

So emotional.Thank you for your commment. I follow you at GFC and I would be happy if you decide to follow me back:-)

New posts:
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Joyce said...

So sorry about your loss. This post is such a touching post and i'm glad to hear that even with the language barrier, it was still possible to understand each other on a different level. And that's a really sweet story with the beanie baby war :)

Elsha said...

This is purely beautiful, I am so sorry for your loss and am keeping your family in my prayers

zoë said...

Sorry for your loss Linda..but rejoice for she is in a better place now.
i miss my lolo and esp my lola whom am close with. its really heartbreaking.
you have beautiful memories with her that you will pass on to your kids.
am amazed by your lola's tribal tats.
is she from Benguet?
You have an amazing ancestry. :)

czarianonuevo said...

I'm really sorry to know this Linda. It's very evident that you really care for your lola and i'm so pleased at how this language barrier didn't keep you from appreciating and loving your grandma :)

czarina :)
paint it stripes

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