A couple of weeks ago we visited an elderly lady in her home. We have missed her for a few months, as she had grown so weak to attend church anymore.
This is a woman that made us feel right at home when we first arrived and became members of a church here, in Des Moines. Even though we have been in the US for several years, we were always been a part of a Filipino congregation. In New Jersey, New York, Florida, and California, we have been attending church composed mainly of Filipinos. (We Filipinos wherever we are, tend to conglomerate, you know.) However, when we moved in Iowa, there was no such Filipino congregation, and thus we became a part of a church that is mostly white, with a sprinkling of other races, like us.
Whenever this lady would see us, she would greet us so warmly and would ask my kids to give her a hug, and would say for everybody to hear, “Here’s my beautiful family.” Of course it was so obvious that we were not related at all, just based on the difference in the color of our skin. However she made us feel like a real family. And without a real family in the area, that meant a lot to us. We then called her Grandma Dorothy.
Several weeks ago, Grandma Dorothy was diagnosed with cancer, and it was in its advanced stage. However due to her ripe age, she chose not to receive any treatment at all. She said that she had lived a full life and was ready to meet her Creator. And as the weeks passed, she became weaker and weaker.
During our visit with her, it was by chance, also her birthday. She is 97 years young. She may be weak but she still looks happy. She was sitting in a chair eating her lunch of soup and crackers. Her digestion was not so good anymore she said, but she still had room for dessert, as she finished a scoopful of ice cream. She was thankful for the flowers that we brought her and wondered how we knew that she likes yellow flowers. My wife confessed that we really did not know that she likes yellow, but she just picked this color since she likes this too.
Grandma Dorothy’s body may have been feeble but her mind was sharp as ever. She called us by our first names and reminisced the earlier days we had with her. She told us that our church is like a garden of flowers: some are roses, some are daisies, some are petunias, and pansies, and gardenias, and lilies, and lavenders, and daffodils, and irises and tulips. (To this I will add sampaguita, ilang-ilang, gumamela, kalachuchi, katuray and kampupot.) She said that every one is beautiful in their own right.
Today, we learned that Grandma Dorothy passed away around seven this morning. I guess, people just like flowers too, will fade away and die. But she surely let her bloom radiated so beautifully and her fragrance diffused so eminently while it lasted.
We definitely will miss a very special flower in our garden.