Dear Ninang

You were Pops’ oldest sibling and the one assigned to be my God parent,

I was aware of your presence on the family tree but interactions before elementary remained kinda fuzzy,

Met you for the first time five years after we’d migrated, I was eleven and English had become my first language,

Unrecognisable, maybe, from the kid you once knew, and the language barrier was a minor issue,

Back then you seemed kinda strict, not the type to be trifled with,

A veteran in the field of parenting, seen and heard every excuse and act of mischief,

Yet beneath it all lay a core of warmth and you were generous to a tee,

Granted us lodgings whenever we visited, unfazed about additional mouths to feed,

Cooked us meals during morning, day and night while attending to daily life,

Taking care of Grandma and running the home and family business, tell us, Ninang, how’d you ever do it?

Encountered obstacles growing up yet you knocked ‘em all, no wonder Pops spoke of you in reverential tones,

Clearly admired his big sister, the one who soldiered on even when the years took their toll.

Reunited five years later, another trip home in my mid-teens,

Your façade softened slightly, the disciplinarian replaced by one more grandmotherly,

Yet your generosity remained intact, the passage of time ain’t diluting that,

Still didn’t suffer fools, though, the grandkids found out fast!

I remembered the trip’s conclusion, you and Grandma shed tears,

Wondering, maybe, when we’ll return if ever, no such thing as guarantees,

We’d meet again, Ninang, but not until thirteen years,

Had plenty of growing to do, conquered school and university then joined the workforce, too,

A family reunion was on, 100 years since grandpa was born,

Grandma had passed, me and the grandkids had all grown,

You’d reached septuagenarian status then but remained sharp mentally,

Another surprise lay in store for me, that you’d learned a bit of English,

Also cooked up a generous serve of the dish that pops said I liked best,

Widened our lines of communication and kept me well-fed, tell me, what’d I do to deserve it?

Getting up in age but you remained and elite-level hostess, keeping us housed and comfortable while still maintaining the family business,

Travelled back two years later, this time for Grandma’s 100th

Glad to have spent additional time with you as you traversed through life’s sunset,

Another teary good-bye followed, perhaps more painful than the others,

The years are adding up, time’s forever marching.

Hoped to meet again, that was the plan anyway,

Caught up in life and ambitions, a health scare the icing on the cake,

Fate intervened just when it seemed all was in the clear,

Borders locked up by Covid 19, brought the entire world to its knees,

The beast still out there though significantly weakened, progress made in subtle ways but can’t be hasty when reopening,

Prayed for your continued good health, another meeting was way past due,

Then heard from folks back home, some not-so-great news,

The Lord had started calling, you delayed the inevitable for a time,

Before you earned your wings then ascended towards the sky.

But while we mourn your passing there’s a sense of comfort over the end of your suffering,

That it’s a beautiful world up there to where you are going,

It’s a testament to the way you’d lived, that your deeds would not be soon forgotten,

The kids and grandkids, they are missing you, the next generation, too, are missing you,

Rest In Peace, Ninang, it was your time to go,

Though face-to-face was limited, your love I’ll always remember it, glad it was you whom Mom and Pops chose,

Maybe we can chop it up sometime, catch up like we should have years before,

In a manner with no barriers, for now fly high and soar, happily up there with the Lord.

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