Our dear Nanay Gloria (Nanay Glo) passed away peacefully in her sleep yesterday. While all of us know this would eventually transpire, none of us expected it to happen this early. I guess we can never be fully prepared for the death of a loved one. Our only consolation from this was that she was finally relieved of all her physical pains and sufferings. And her serene face at the time of her passing somehow eased our grief and struggle to let go.
If there’s one memory of Nanay Glo that I’d like to retain in my memory, it’s her younger, bouncy, feisty and spirited self, always on the go (you can’t really confine her in one space), uncowering, and ready to pounce on anyone who dared slight or hurt her family. Yes, that’s how protective she was of us when we were younger. Looking back, I realized I always had that feeling of security when I was with her. I felt safe and protected.
Nanay Glo was orphaned at a young age. She and her older sister learned to fend for themselves after their mother, our lola, became a victim of a hit-and-run car accident. I guess this was how she became a toughie. Nothing really scared her. If there’s one quality I would have wanted to acquire from her, it is this, living fearlessly and braving the storms of life.
Other people with similar situations would feel weighed down and would lack the motivation to continue living, but not Nanay Glo. She faced her problems head-on and reached this far because she had a goal in mind: to have a family of her own and to see her children living a life totally different from hers. So yes, she really was our source of strength, our family’s fortress.
Nanay Glo only finished Grade 4 in the same elementary school where I graduated. And would you believe her class adviser that time became my Araling Panlipunan teacher in Grade 6? In the stories she recounted back in the day, she remembered that teacher fondly. That teacher was kind enough to share her food with the young Nanay Glo who had no snacks to bring to school.
Despite not finishing her elementary education, Nanay Glo learned to speak and write in English. Her lack of education did not prevent her from earning her own keep and providing for her family’s needs. She sold anything and everything: isaw, her home-cooked food, vegetables, you name it; she isn’t ashamed to peddle her goods just to help Tatay put food on the table.
She’s a survivor.
As if her rough childhood wasn’t enough, Nanay Glo experienced more challenges in her later life in the form of illnesses. She had adult onset diabetes and had mild stroke in 2007, underwent quadruple heart bypass surgery in 2010, became a dialysis patient in 2019, and caught the COVID virus in 2020.
Before 2020 ended, she lost muscle strength in her legs and upper body that made her unable to sit, stand up, and walk on her own. She also had wounds on her feet that never healed and which gave gave her immense pain. If these are not what being a survivor means, then I don’t know what is.
That’s Nanay Glo for all of us: a dauntless and resourceful mother and protector and a valiant survivor. While we mourn her passing, we take solace in the fact that she is now in a much better place where love abounds and pain does not exist. Rest now, Nanay Glo. You Are forever in our hearts.