Pictured: The Madrid family. My grandmother is on the top row, third from the left.
My grandmother, who we call ‘mama’, turned 95 years old a couple of weeks ago. She’s an amazing woman who brought up three children and a nephew as a single mother. She worked as an english teacher in the Philippines. Her husband was assassinated in the back of their home when my dad was just a toddler, during the Chinese invasion of the Philippines. My grandfather was a revered figure in the community at the time and worked as a pilot. My grandmother heard the shot as she hid with her three children. Shortly thereafter their home was burned to the ground, leaving a few pieces of furniture which we still have in the family to this day. Mama is the strongest woman I know, and I can only hope to live up to the path she has carved for her family’s future generations. Mama I love and miss you. Happy birthday.
"Mama is okay and we celebrated her birthday last Feb 1. She still remembers me and your mom but quickly forgets who we are by late afternoon, unless we remind her who we are. There are times when she remembers a lot of things vividly—even events that happened like 40 years ago. One time, she asked me where my father was and I thought she was referring to your Uncle Roddy because Ryan was also in Manila with his brand new wife Christine. So I told her who I was and that I am her son. She then said I know, but where is my husband, your father. I told her her husband, my father died a long time ago and she looked at me sadly and said—so my husband is dead?
When we bade her goodbye, she cried and said, please don’t leave me. So, I told her we’re coming back in May just to appease her. I really felt so sad leaving her like that. Except for her memory lapses, she’s ok and relatively in good health considering her age 95 years.”
- An email from my dad, returning from the Philippines to celebrate mama’s 95th birthday. Everyone in the family feels this may be her last one.