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November 13, 2011

Remembering a Wise and Grand Grandfather

Here is a touching poem about a grandfather--a grandfather who was a gift in someone's life. I know that Cecil Rendon is not alone in having the wonderful, God-given experience of finding family that we are connected to by a kind of spiritual blood line. All too often, the world does not acknowledge our grief when we lose a friend who was truly a part of our family. All too often, the world hears that your "friend" died, and few stand ready to understand that grief for the loss of such a friend is no less than grief for those who were born into the branches of our biological "family tree."

In the note that came with his poem, Cecil wrote: "I had a great time with my grandfather. Even now I can hardly believe that he passed away. My friends and family helped me go through the grieving process, and community involvement and keeping myself busy at home helps a lot. I can now smile as I look back on those happy days with my grandfather."

Cecil lives in a small town near Cebu in the Philippines. This poem is the first one I've posted where the poet has written in a second language. It's a great example of how English can "stretch" and sound beautiful and be meaningful in new ways. When I first read Cecil's poem, I felt as though I could see his grandfather, Lolo Andot. Above all, I felt that I could see this wise old gentleman smile. Surely, wherever he is now, he is smiling about this poem and about having "inherited" such a special grandchild.


Image by raclro of iStock Photo

In Grandfather’s Memory
(a.k.a. Lolo Andot)

by Cecil Rendon

I could never have had a wonderful childhood without you,
A life full of memories to ponder,
And moments when we lingered with each other
As we shared laughs on our simple jokes.

Elementary years were tough,
But you were there to keep me smiling,
To show me the beauty of nature
And how blessed the crops were, nurtured by your hands.

Can’t forget how we fetched water
From the spring in Talamban to your house on the hill,
How excited we were to dance and play up in the trees
While you and grandma prepared our food.

The beauty of that simple lifestyle up the hill
Brought joy to your face as you welcomed us.
The bayabas*, butong* and buto-buto* we liked.
You were always happy to render service in exchange for
that indescribable feeling of being close to nature.

High school days arrived.
You lived near the street
For then you aged like withered leaves,
Yet the beauty of your heart captured everyone else’s heart.

Everyday you smoked tobacco
And in the afternoon sat on that street bench,
Smiled at those people who passed by.
Thus evening came—you went to your “office”
at your neighbor’s house and spent time playing  pong-baraha*.

I saw how your eyes glittered when you won that game,
For I stayed long at your house, even
Though you’re not my grandfather in blood,
Yet I highly respected you.

You spoke well in English as mirror of Spanish regime
I saw how you lost weight and life seemed to fade from your face.
Pain enveloped me, for I witnessed how you withered from
That full-bloomed plant you once were
The thought of losing you . . .

Death came…
Still I can feel the warmth of your body
As I undressed you--life in you finally fading.
I saw how bony your body,
Like those bare branches stretching through winter time

I shed tears, for I lost my grandpa
In my heart–to your families’ hearts.
Memories of you remain;
You’re a great grandfather to us and will stay that way.

I never forget how you smiled, Lolo Andot,
The care I had from you.
With all my heart I say, “ I love you, Lolo, and miss you.”
You’re always in our hearts and thoughts.
Rest in peace as angels sing.


* Bayabas means guava. Butong is a young coconut. Buto-buto is a kind of fruit, often eaten by birds, but one that humans may eat also. Pong-baraha is a card game.

Poem, copyright Cecil Rendon, all rights reserved.
Text, copyright Ysabel de la Rosa.

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