29 Days of Love · A.M. Ream Poetry · February 2016

To strangers, she seemed

a shy, quiet woman,

shades of silver

and milky white

in her long hair,

broken English

compensated by

many hand gestures

and animated expressions.

But to me, she was

another mother

who was there for me

with her calm demeanor,

similar to my mom’s

although they were only

related by law.

My maternal grandmother

also around to make sure

all four grandchildren

were taken care of.

Yes, it was a large amount

of bodies squeezed

into a small house

of three bedrooms

and only one bathroom.

But there was always

an over abundance of love,

a sense of security

and the opportunity

to learn more about

the country where

I was born, to hear

stories of what

it was like living

in a country

caught up in the

turmoil of World War II

My paternal grandmother,

affectionately called

“Apo Quidang” eventually moved

with my “Apo Santos”

to the apartment complex

where they worked.

It didn’t matter to them

how close they were to

the American age

of retirement.

It was a way to send support

to the seven remaining children

and their families who had

remained in the Philippines.

But for my siblings and I,

it was the location

of many fond memories,

enjoying the variety

of tv shows, especially

game shows that they

loved to watch,

my grandfather being

the main cook of the house,

usually making his famous

chicken soup with rice.

Oh, how I miss the days

of my childhood, when the

company of my grandparents

was easily accessible

first in our home

and later in theirs.

I will never forget that day

when I lost a part of my heart.

When my Apo Quidang

was gone from my life

forever, I found comfort

in two beautiful songs

which still bring tears

to my eyes:

“You Are Not Alone”

by Michael Jackson

and “Bye Bye”

by Mariah Carey.

Apo Quidang, know that

you are always missed

and that I have passed

the love and the heritage

of our culture to my

own children.

I’m so glad they were able

to meet you at least once.

 

–February 2, 2016

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