Her song

We call her, Mama Liza.  I think she was a little shy of being five feet tall and it took her a while to recognize your face, but that didn’t define her loving heart and kind spirit.  She went on dates with my grandpa to McDonald’s and she wore her best outfit with red lipstick. She also did exercise activities with her friends when her strength and health allowed her to.  Mama Liza always encouraged my cousins and I to do our best and go to school; she said it in a way that instilled motivated rather than fear.  She learned to read, write and improved her English by going to night classes along with the support of her husband.  Mama Liza apologized every time for her “weak” English, but I told her that it’s perfect every time.

Her home was our haven and source of imagination.  My cousins and I filled that house with Barney tapes, Spice Girls songs, hide-n-seek games, blanket-made forts, and peanut butter sandwiches, Nesquik milk, and Yan-Yan.  We were more excited to sleep side-by-side on the living room floor rather than our own beds.  Her house was located in the perfect distance from the playground, bus stop, Fun Factory, and the mom ‘n’ pop store on the corner.  Most of my childhood memories took place in that house, which helps me to understand why family is such a great value in my life.

We grew up living by Mama Liza’s unique quotes and sayings.  In her filipino accent, she advised us to fart because it’s healthy for us.  Other common sayings would be, “Keep quiet,” “You behave,” and “Cheese is good for the eyes.”  Mama Liza claimed that cheese comment to be true, especially because she always had a word search book in hand.  She sang the same tune with different lyrics each time as she walked and danced around the house.  My sister and I call those moments as Grandma singing the blues.  My favorite song is about how she felt unloved whenever my grandpa didn’t listen to her, but little did she realize that my grandpa is hard of hearing.  I enjoyed sitting back and listening to their misunderstood conversations because it was the perfect harmony of a 50+ year long marriage.  My grandma’s song is definitely a Grammy Award Winner.

Her song

Siblings

Siblings

I’ve always wanted a brother as long as I can remember. My sister and I would usually complain about that around Christmas time when we’re struggling to put Christmas lights around the house. My auntie was lucky; she had five brothers that watched out for her, five brothers who loved her, and five brothers that carried her to her final resting place. Like any other family-oriented person, she loved talking stories and gossip with my mom and dad. Even though my parents moved out of the neighborhood, they were never out of the loop. Although we’re still feeling the lost of her physical being, we still feel the love and spirit that she brought to our lives. It’s been almost seven months now, but the emotions remain fresh and unforgettable. Rest in peace Auntie and “enjoy the view from heaven; beats the hell out of mine here.”

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Betty and Veronica

Betty and Veronica

My best friend and I were obsessed with Archie comic books to the point where we identified ourselves as Betty Cooper and Veronica Lodge. These two characters were complete opposites, just like our friendship. Betty (me) was a little more laid back and simple while Veronica (Tiani) was basically a diva. But through the many stories of Betty and Veronica agreeing and disagreeing, differences, and fighting over the same boy, they always seemed to hold that strong bond no matter what. Now, I know that it’s just comic book stories, but I like to think that no matter what Tiani and I go through, even the ups and downs and silent grudges, I can’t just flush a 22-year-old friendship down the drain.

So cheers to friendship. May the good times, girl talk, and dancing heavily outweigh the fights, gossip, and distance.

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