they keep asking me what triggered it, because i was with him when it had finally caught up with him.
and most times, i just shrug them off, and tell them that perhaps, this was an inevitability. that all of us are doomed in the end, because mortality is something that we need to confront as we age. but deep in my heart, i know when it happened, because i am convinced that i was the first to witness his surrender.
it was early evening, the distinct aroma of escabeche wafted in the room, and i was in my own, impenetrable bubble, hammering away for my online employer.
all of a sudden, the distinct sound of shattered glass sliced through the uneventful silence that night. i looked at where the sound came from, and there i saw him -- the glass had apparently slithered from his grip, and he lay there motionless, his eyes empty, and his ethos, that of a defeated man.
from then on, he spiraled downwards -- it started with his loss of locomotor skills, then his speech abandoned him, until finally, he regressed back into infancy.
my grandfather, at age 84, had just been engulfed by senility.
prior to writing this, i had a clear idea of what i wanted to write about: i wished to describe him down to his littlest endearments. how he looks for example, or how he is passionate about world war two and manny pacquiao, or how very lovingly he prepares his sliced papaya fruits for dinner, or how he always beams with pride when he tells his friends that one of his grandchildren is the batch valedictorian.
but each time i attempt to muster the adjectives that can paint a clear picture of him, i fail to do so -- because apparently, love is a beautiful abstraction, and words, sometimes, are never sufficient to encapsulate the dictates of the heart.
but one day, just as i was rummaging through his things, i found my heart silently weeping after it had seen how his affections were reduced to a few belongings that he had kept hidden from all of us.
being one to be drawn by sentimentality, he had a lot of items stacked in his room: on that day, I saw his favorite hammer on top of his drawer, a blue ball cap that was hanging in his graying wall, a vietnamese hat that my mom got him from bohol, a solar-powered flashlight that rested on a monobloc chair, a walking cane beside his bed, and empty bottles of menthol rubs that were just strewn in disarray.
he also had a wooden box that he oftentimes kept locked. but this time, it was unlocked. i carefully pulled the lid open and peeked inside.
what instantly caught my eye was a packet of papers that was wrapped in plastic.
when i meticulously loosened the packet from the rubber bands that kept it intact, i saw the two most beautiful things:
a yellowing love letter from my grandmother before she passed;
and the kindergarten test paper, dated 1990, of a cousin that had a perfect score.
lolo, even when most people think otherwise, i believe you can still come back. i love you, and we miss you so much.