Thursday, July 05, 2007

Milestones

On the 13th day of March 1926, my grandmother was born into the world. Christened Theresa and confirmed Martha, she is the 4th of nine siblings, 7 sisters and 2 brothers. She is the eldest surviving after the death of her elder sister last year. Her 2 eldest sisters and a younger brother had already passed on many years before.

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Despite living through the 2nd World War, the Japanese Occupation and in poverty for most of her life, she is a very hardy and cheerful lady, retaining a keen sense of humour and wit. The hardships that she and Alfred, my grandfather both went through, such as walking for miles each night to eat a 'cheap' meal, their only meal, which would dissipate in the stomach on the long walk home, only made them stronger and more appreciative of God's gifts and blessings. After the death of my grandfather 16 years ago, she has been alone in this world besides myself and Furry, our dog, a recent (about 4 years ago) addition to the family.

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As is the wont of people from her generation, she always keeps busy, always doing something or another and seldom idle.

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My grandmother is also a very kindly and generous lady, always keeping the interest of others above self and spending her time and money for the betterment of others. Although she has a bunch of useless nieces and nephews on whom she and my grandfather lavished their time and what little money they had, she is often lonely as they never visit (bunch of ingrates, may they burn in hell) and amuses herself by collecting coins for the vendors (who are always in need of change) and conversing with Furry, besides doing the household chores.

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She is also very concerned for the welfare of others and in doing so, has impoverished her finances and her health. She is a very strong lady, and despite suffering many falls, the most recent one just last week and hitting her head hard, she bounces back and is back to work doing household chores the next day such as walking to the market to buy food and walking to the dump to throw away the rubbish.

My family does not celebrate birthdays. But the occasion of her 81st birthday warranted an exception and a little party was planned despite her fierce protests and threats of walking off into the sea (she's very good at threats). So, having planned everything clandestinely, I spirited her off to Mass and went home to prepare the barbeque, marinade the meat and start the fire.

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The photo above shows the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of All China and India and the East Indies, the Metropolitan Archbishop of Penang, His Beatitude Marshall Fernandez, who also happens to be my parish priest blessing the Papal Blessing that I had requested from the Holy See for the occasion. I'm not sure whether you are supposed to bless a Papal Blessing, but hey, when in doubt, bless away!

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It says His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI cordially imparts the requested Apostolic Blessing to my grandmother on the occasion of her 81st birthday and invokes and abundance of divine graces through the intercession of Our Lady. Wow! How cool is that! And remember the Lord's promise to Blessed Peter 'Whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth will be bound in Heaven'.

The calligraphy and ornamented capitals are fabulously written on a parchment bearing the images of the 4 Major Papal basilicas in Rome.

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Here, Father Marshall confers the Papal Blessing on my grandmother after the evening Mass and her reaction below. =)

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When she returned home, the party began in earnest, with a few invited family(ok, it was basically me) and friends, whom, like the parable of the king, we invited off the streets, or rather, the Church.

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Grandma looks like she was having a good time.

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Here, she's apparently making a wish...wonder whether it was 'I hope these fools don't spill anything on the settee' Haha..

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The photo below shows our humility lighting the candles on the cake. At her age, it's a wonder we didn't burn the house down trying to meet the required number of candles.

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A joyous rendition of Happy Birthday to you rocked the residence.

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Hugs and kisses all around for the birthday girl, errr...lady.

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And of course, not to forget a certain other Lady, Mary our Mother, to whom my grandmother faithfully prays the rosary daily, at the temporary altar set up for the celebrations.

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It was from my grandmother and my grandfather that I learned to fear the Good Lord and to bless His Holy Name and have His praise always on my lips. From my grandfather, who read me one chapter from the children's bible each night, I grew to love the Lord and learned of the marvellous works of His mighty arm through which He saved His people and brought them salvation and redemption in Christ Jesus His Son.

Through my grandmother, who has always exhorted me to pray, especially the daily rosary during the months of May and October, on our knees before the simple family altar, I learned the faith from the school of Mary.

And so, on this occasion, I would like to pray for her.

I pray that the Lord Jesus Christ, who has been with her and sustained her all her many years, in good times and in the times that were not so good, may continue to overshadow her with His graces and His blessings all of her days.

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I pray that the Blessed Virgin Mary, who has watched over her after the death of her own mother so many years ago, may continue to protect her with the mantle of her favour and intercede for her before the Throne of Her Son, Jesus.

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I pray that the Lord Jesus may continue to give her comfort in her old age, solace in her distress, succour in her troubles, assurance for her fears and to always console her with His Divine Presence, now, at the hour of her death and forever more in the beatitude of Heaven.

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Thank you for sharing with me this special moment when I honour my grandmother for all that she has done and is continuing to do and for all that she is and all that she stands for. I thank my God for this precious gift daily, although I may sometimes seem less than grateful and I ask for your prayers for this grand old lady who is everything to me.

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10 comments:

Fr Tim Finigan said...

Andrew, that is a wonderful post - thank you very much. I will indeed remember you dear grandmother in my prayers today.

Archistrategos said...

What a wonderful post, Andrew! In a world where the elderly are being relegated to the margins of society, your devotion to your grandmother is a beacon of hope. I've interviewed a good number of the elderly in nursing homes last week, and theirs are some of the saddest stories I've ever heard (I'll post about this in the coming days; it's heartbreaking, gut-wrenching stuff). But there is still hope, despite the ugliness we so often find ourselves in. May the Lord continue to bless your grandmother in the years to come!

Dr. Peter H. Wright said...

Andrew,
Thank you for sharing this occasion with us.
Your grandmother is obviously a beautiful and wonderful lady who has led a long life of much tribulation, but has not lost her faith or her sense of humour.
And those are the two virtues we all need if we are to survive this world.
God bless her always !

Andrew said...

Thank you all for your very kind sentiments and best wishes.

Si Fractus Fortis said...

As the other commenters have said, a wonderful post.

As I am a new reader of your blog please forgive me if you have explained this many times before, but how did it happen that a Greek Orthodox Patriarch is the parish priest of a Catholic such as yourself?

Andrew said...

Thanks, si fractus fortis. I'm afraid that, though he has the looks, Fr. Marshall does not have an orthodox bone in him =)

The lofty designations were merely our humble attempt at some humour.

Si Fractus Fortis said...

Ah... humour. Yes, I've read about that somewhere.

Anonymous said...

I wish your grandmother much health!

Anonymous said...

+God bless your Dear Grandmother, Andrew! And you, too, for being such a faithful and loving grandson!+
My daughter and I enjoy your blog very much.
+JMJ+
AMR

Andrew said...

Many thanks, AMR.

God bless you too.