I don’t know if I can finish this blog post without getting too emotional. I just love my grandma so much that it pains me whenever I recall what she has been through in the past. But let me try it though and I hope I could pull this through. I need a lot of strength here 😉
Here it is…
Being given the life itself is already a blessing, how much more if you have live long enough to celebrate eighty years of it. Indeed, my grandmother is so fortunate to have reached 80 years old last November 3, 2013 and even more than blessed to have survived life’s challenges and difficulties. Not to mention, my grandfather’s delinquency and unfaithfulness (May he rest in peace).
She is without a doubt an extraordinary woman!
If I am to judge her life according to what I know about her, I can fairly say that her 80 years of existence is not a bed of roses – definitely not at all! She was blessed with 12 children but only a few of them have gone to college because life was not that easy for them back then. Others didn’t even get the chance to finish high school like my mother. With the family income that is inadequate to support their basic needs; my grandmother never had the chance to celebrate her birthday even once for the last 80 years of her life.
For her, a celebration of any kind is just a luxury and only for those who can afford it, so she never celebrated her birthday nor any of her kids when they were growing up.
All her life was spent working and thinking about her children, grandchildren and other people’s welfare. She seldom (almost never) think of herself that even with the smallest thing she has, she will lend it or even give it away to her neighbors or to those she thinks needed it the most. Yes, despite material and financial insufficiency, she remained generous, selfless, and very compassionate at that.
Each of her 12 children has a family of their own now and somewhat a little busy to even bother giving her a birthday party even once. It’s not that they don’t care about her but I guess maybe because they don’t grow up doing it so they think it is not necessary at all.
As her granddaughter, I realized the importance of throwing a simple party on her 80th birthday. I would like her to feel special on that day, after all not everyone is given the chance to be blessed with such age. I would love to see her delightfully celebrating LIFE even for once!
So after consulting my husband and my eldest brother, I started planning a surprise party for my grandmother’s 80th birthday. Since it was a surprise, only a few people knew about it (or so I thought) – only those who are involve in the preparation. I have also sponsored two round trip tickets for my cousins who are based in Manila as part of the surprise. Grandma hasn’t seen them for years so I thought bringing them along on her birthday will make her really happy.
… And here comes the big day!
When the big day finally came, I asked my aunt who are living next to her house to bring Grandma to Koronadal City and have her shop for clothes and spend the whole day away so she won’t find out what we are preparing for her.
We arrived from our 5-hour trip at around 8 in the morning (I need to pull Bella out of the bed as early as 3AM). What seems to be MY surprise for Grandma is not a surprise at all! I think it’s the other way around! LOL. I was told that she already have an idea of what’s going to happen.
All the while, I was thinking that we were the only ones coming from out of town but to my amazement, everyone was already there including those who are not invited (Pardon me for the word). Grandma’s children, grandchildren and relatives from all over Mindanao were all there. They actually arrived earlier than us! Good thing that Grandma went to the City a little early. They would have blown the surprise if it happened otherwise.
Well, seems like everyone is ready!
So the moment I stepped out of the van, I called all of Grandma’s children and grandchildren and told them about their assignments. Grandma’s children, headed by my mother, were in charge of the food and its preparation while the grandchildren are responsible for the program. And me? I am in control of whatever comes in between. Wish me luck! Hehehe
I don’t know how to describe what happened next since Bella has been very clingy and demanding of my time so I just trust that everything will work according to plan – making Grandma’s 80th birthday an unforgettable event for her!
Photos below will give you a true picture of my grandma’s first-ever birthday party at 80 years old! I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I do.
My Grandma was so amused with the people greeting her on video (includes my siblings and others who didn’t make it there) that she even spoke to them as if they’re talking face to face. Hehehe. I guess it’s also her first time to get acquainted with a laptop. Photo in the bottom right shows how surprised and happy my Grandma was when my cousins (Ian and Joeffry) from Manila surprisingly serenaded her from the back while she was watching their video greetings!
Talking about endless surprises, here are Lola’s first Lechon and Birthday Cakes!
The money, effort and all the hard work was all worth it because Grandma didn’t expect to experience “many firsts” in her life for just one night. We also prepared loot bags for kids (thanks to Doydoy and Grace for patiently packing and segregating the items) and also customized hand fans as souvenir for her visitors. I also hold a raffle for my cousins – my way of getting to know them
Aside from the physical and material accomplishment, what we consider the highlight of the celebration is the gathering of Grandma’s children, grandchildren and great grandchildren for the first time in history. Grandma was so happy to see all of us! I got to meet some of my cousins for the first time too.
Grandma was so happy and amazed with the turned out of her first – ever birthday party. She’s like a kid and a debutante as well. She felt like she was just dreaming and she never thought that it could be possible. She even admitted that it didn’t sink into her until the next day, when everyone was talking about it.
I am so grateful for the support of my husband and my brother that despite their absence, they have willingly shouldered almost all of the expenses. I am also thankful for my parents for the enlightenment especially during the time when I was doubtful whether to push it through or not. The effort and hardwork of Uncle Otong, Auntie Daday, Auntie Daing, Auntie Elsa and all my aunts and uncles are all appreciated. To my cousins who supported the celebration and have given their time for Lola’s special day, a special shout out to all of you guys! I hope we could gather together again one of these days. Ambag – ambag tayo tapos solicit tayo kay Manoy! Hahaha!
To our beloved Grandmother, we thank God for your life. We may not that fortunate enough to have material possessions but the example you have set for all us made us complete. You have given as a FAMILY we can call our own! Thank you so much for your love and sacrifices and for continuously working hard for your grandchildren even until now.
We love you very much and may God grant you an even longer life to enjoy not just the 4th generation of your lineage but also the generations beyond that. We will never get tired of celebrating your birthday and looking forward to share it every year with you.
Happy happy 80th birthday Lola. We love you very very much!
And yes, with teary eyes, I finally finished this post for my Grandma. This is also my first – ever blog post to reach more than 1900 words (another achievement I guess). Obviously, I got carried away! I’m sorry if it took up a lot of your time. Thanks for patiently reading. I do appreciate it.
Originally published on Feb 9, 2014.