YESTERDAY, my son's wife gave birth to their second kid, also a boy, in a local hospital in a coastal town in far south Negros. He is my second apo with them. I have two others, all girls, with my daughter somewhere in Luzon. Four apos in all.
I don't know how to describe the feeling of having apos. Some say it's the hallmark of being a lolo, a senior citizen. Others say it is the fruit of having well reared and productive children.
Whatever people have to say, to me it is simply a natural fact that becoming or being a lolo or lola is not only a historically inescapable reality, that even at the flickering years of our life, we still have a role to play in our families and grandchildren. And it is what makes it a gift, a grace, that gives additional meaning and happiness to our reason for being.
I remember an old quote from I don't know who says, "God created grandfathers because He could not be everywhere to take care of the children."
So true. The lolos and lolas have special place in Filipino families. Often, they fill in a lot of gaps, taking care of the apos while they are at work, providing them what their parents forget or refuse to give, nurturing their love and respect for their parents and the elders.
In many cases, the lolos and lolas are the ones being run to by the apos when they are not on good terms with their parents. Why is this so, because to them as their experience tells, the grandparents have everything they seek for, ears that listen, arms that hold tight, love that is endless, and heart that is gold.
For the apos, lolos and lolas are special people. They are more than just replicas of their parents. They are everything, from material, physical being to spiritual.
For lolos and lolas, apos also serve as the bridge when they are in some sort of conflict with their children. They ease the tension, they widen the dimension, and they simply make everyone feel what true love really is.
But more than anything else, more than utilitarian and selfish purposes, the apos give the lolos and lolas that feeling of belongingness, continuing connection, to a physical world slipping fast their hands. The apos provide that pulling hands that seem to say, "hey lolo, lola, don't leave us, we have more fun with you..." or sort of.
There are times of course when grandparents and their children-parents quarrel because the apos are closer to the former. But this should not be a cause for misunderstanding or jealousy because this is something natural. It doesn't mean that the apos love their lolos and lolas more, and their parents less. It is simply that they often find their lolos and lolas more entertaining and satisfying when their parents are not around.
There may be fathers and mothers who do not love their children, but there is no grandfather or grandmother who does not adore an apo.
Indira Gandhi once said, "my grandfather once told me that there are two kinds of people: those who do the work and those who take the credit. He told me to try to be in the first group, there is much less competition."
Whatever, lolos and lolas are shining gifts in our families; "they are someone with silver in their hair, and gold in their heart," so said an anonymous quote.
I am proud to be a lolo. it is a privilege to be one for many have not been given such.