Elena Jurilla Bomban
May 28, 1940 – December 20, 2010
(This was my eulogy for my lola’s burial last Tuesday)
A person’s memory is filled with information and experiences that he or she can remember. Among my four grandparents, I would have to say that I’ll remember lola the most just because she was there during my adolescent years—the memories here are the ones that are freshest in my brain. I never got to meet my lolo Robert because he passed a year before I was born; my lola Victoria died when I was really young, so I don’t remember much about her; my memories with lolo Tomas are blurry—I only remember most of them when my parents and my titas share them to me; my memories with lola, however, don’t really need much storytelling because I remember them the most.
To be honest, I only became close to lola this year because I study in Iloilo, so I got the chance to go home here during weekends that did not have Saturday classes. She would cook me Cadios for Saturday lunch every time I went here because she knew I loved it. I actually remember my last real conversation with lola. I was telling her about the girl who doesn’t like me in school; the girl mentioned to our classmates that I would “just leave them” next year, when I get to transfer to Diliman, so they shouldn’t really hang-out with me much, so I told them “indi kamo da mag pati siya” (don’t believe her) which made lola laugh. She made me repeat the story about 2 or 3 times (that was up to dinner), just like mum who likes to make you repeat a story she likes.
A few days after that weekend, I received a text from tita Analee that lola was rushed to the hospital and that she needed to be operated on because her stomach ached after she ate the leftover Pochero which she cooked for me. I immediately prayed because I didn’t want our growing relationship to end. My mum texted me that lola needed to be in the ICU. I teared up. I scrolled down some more: lola has colon cancer, and they needed to remove the mass. I teared up even more. I felt so guilty because of that stupid Pochero which lola cooked for me.
I immediately came home that weekend to visit lola in the hospital. Entering the ICU was easy, saying hi to lola was a little harder because I had to make sure my voice doesn’t crack, but holding back all the tears was the hardest. I couldn’t last 5 minutes in the room because I didn’t want lola to see me crying; I needed to show her that I was strong so that she can make it. I went back to the hospital every weekend after that.
We never really got to talk much after because either she had an oxygen tube in her throat or she was just too weak to talk. One weekend, lola told Manang Rosie to cook Cadios and Valenciana since I was going home. After lunch, I went to her room and she asked if it tasted good. I said, “Yes, pero mas namit ang gina himo mo hehehe!” (yes, but yours is yummier) Then she smiled and went back to sleep. I didn’t bother her much because I knew she had to rest. Mum texted me a few weeks later and said that lola was back to the hospital and her cancer’s now stage 4. I started preparing myself for the worst, while always hoping for the best.
I think one of the traits I got from lola is her feistiness. I know that I am a strong, determined & outspoken person just like lola. She never allowed herself and her loved ones to be pushed around by other people. This trait has gotten me in to trouble quite a few times, but I believe that I was doing the right thing defending myself, my friends and my loved ones. They say I got it from my mum, but I’m sure that it came from lola.
Lola was a kind yet strong person. My mum shared a story about one Christmas when they were very young. Lola couldn’t afford dolls for their Christmas gifts, so she bought those strawberry pretzels instead. My mum saw her crying while wrapping the pretzels. Even our pet cat, Chowder, knows that lola was a kind person. After we gave him a bath, he stayed beside lola and cuddled with her. Although lola was makulit towards us—she would make tampo if we texted late during grandparents day or mother’s day—I know she meant well because she probably misses her grandchildren.
It’s funny how God’s plan works. I always asked him why I have to be in UP Visayas and not in Diliman where I can be close to my family and friends, but I guess He already gave me an answer to my question already—to be able to take care of lola. I was told to be strong for lola so many times; probably another reason why God put me in Iloilo to study.
We all have our own memories with lola Elena, and with all these memories about her, I’m sure that she will not be forgotten wherever she may be. Rest in peace, lola. I’m sure that you’re now in a nicer and more peaceful place with lolo.
To end this, let me read to you a part of a song by Jimmy Eat World:
What would you think of me now?
So lucky, so strong, so proud
I never said thank you for that
Now I’ll never have a chance
May Angels lead you in
Hear you meet my friends
On sleepless roads, the sleepless go
May Angels lead you in