While in Lipa City we visited my grandfather’s (maternal) grave. We didn’t know where in the cemetery it was and I had doubts we’d actually find it. But when we drove in, my mom recognized a man that had re-painted his grave a few years ago (because he had no teeth). He was with a group of men and boys just hanging out in the cemetery and they helped us with our search.
The cemetery was like nothing I had ever seen. Lots of stray dogs, a dozen goats and even a cow, just chilling in the middle of the cemetery. Graffiti, lots of overgrown weeds and no maintenance believed me to think it had become like a seedy park that you run by, not walk, when it starts to get dark (and not only because its a cemetery!).
During the search, the boys ran ahead while continuously looking back at us with curious and shy eyes. Our little helpers climbed to the top of the 10 foot high wall of tombs. And jumped across them like an obstacle course. When I asked them their names and ages, they looked straight down, overcome with timidness and spoke so respectfully. Many times I had to swallow the big lump in my throat but I couldn’t stop my eyes from watering.
We found my grandfather’s grave after about 30 minutes. He died when my mom was 9 so obviously I’d never met him and I still don’t know much about him. Unlike visiting my grandmother’s grave in San Juan (paternal side), it was hard for me to emotionally connect to the situation because I didn’t have any memories of him to recall. No mementos, only 1 picture of him, and I couldn’t recall any stories I’d heard of him. But this is where my family started, the root of my family tree. So I said a little prayer and introduced myself to my him. 🙂 And for the first time, I wondered, What he was like? Quiet, smart, was he a good father? Who in the Bosita clan is most like him (my mom is the youngest of 11 and last time I checked, I have ~ 37 first cousins)? Did he pass down the sense of humor that my most of my cousins appear to have in common?
While leaving, I was emotionally overwhelmed upon meeting the cemetery kids. They were dirty, their clothes were tattered and some were barefoot. Their future, both short and long-term, seemed so…hopeless. And I felt so helpless. Defeated. Sad. And as we drove away, I bawled because the reality of the situation of not being able to help someone no matter how much you want to, was heartbreaking. They live in tremendous poverty but there is no fundraiser to attend, no food drive, no tutoring session. We were on the other side of the world visiting a cemetery. I’ll never see them again but I’m so thankful I did.