A life well-lived
Following my stay in the United Kingdom, I boarded a flight from Manchester Airport to Los Angeles. Some days before, my family received the news that my husband Rob’s maternal grandmother Sadako Hayashida (nee Katekaru) passed away at the age of 96. I was still in London when the text messages and phone calls started coming in. My flight plans had to be changed in a hurry, while Rob and our daughter Nicole’s needed to be booked (thanks, Josh Pultz, for all your help).
Once I got to LA, it was time to get started on plans for grandma’s service. Planning a funeral can be an overwhelming endeavor, but thankfully, every available hand was ready to go on deck.
Photos were scanned and presentations were put together. A trifold program was created and its text proofread. Restaurant and reception reservations were made. Songs were selected and a pianist hired (thanks, Tom Griep).
Family and friends then made their way from various points around the country to attend the viewing on Thursday, the 10th, and the funeral the following day.
Of course, the viewing had its share of tears and sadness, but also celebration. This was a woman who was resilient both physically (she thrived even after a heart attack, open heart surgery and a stroke) and mentally (she survived the deaths of her husband and two of her three children, one of whom was Rob’s mom, Beverly).
Being the wife of a farmer, she knew what it was like to nurture a crop for months only to have it wiped out by hail in minutes. But she also knew how to get up and move forward.
By her example, she taught her family about honor, honesty and strength. She wasn’t only a wife, but also a partner in her family’s farming operation.
She was a member of a bridge club and a bowling league. She knitted and crocheted, baked pies and cooked. She had a no-nonsense demeanor, opting to tell you like it was rather than sugarcoat things. She had a big laugh and a heart to match.
After the viewing, the family headed to Honda, one of Grandma’s favorite restaurants. Over plates of sushi, teriyaki, tempura, lobster and crab, as well as many shots of saké, we toasted Grandma and the life she lived. Everyone had a memory to share, and for those of us who were able to spend time with her recently, we felt fortunate to have done so.
Toward the end of the night, the staff of Honda remembered her well, and so toasted along with the family. “Kanpai!”
Goodbye, Grandma, rest with the angels. We’ll miss you, until we see each other again.
A woman well-loved
Just this past Monday, my mother Ligaya Salonga celebrated her 80th birthday! This is a milestone, so it was important for us to spend it with her.
With a simple dinner at the Marriott Café, the family and some friends, Ferdie Agustin, Sara Soliven-de Guzman, Gwen Jacinto-Cariño, GA Fallarme, Juan Sarte and Tin Samson, broke bread to celebrate this woman whom we love so much.
My mom’s been through a lot in her 80 years on this earth. Yes, she’s a homemaker and a mother to me and Gerard, but she was also a risk-taker.
She was instrumental in the early days of my career, able to see the forest for the trees. She recorded and released songs for kids by a child artist when the companies she was pitching the compilation to all said “no” to her face.
She was a proponent of wholesome, family entertainment and filled a void where she saw one. She willingly survived the sacrifice of packing up and leaving her life just to help see me through my own in a different country half a world away, and did the same for my brother when his turn came.
She did it all at full throttle.
Sure, she does at times drive us crazy, but which parent doesn’t?
To this day, she is the wind beneath our wings, our biggest fan, as well as our harshest critic.
She showers us all with unconditional love, makes tough decisions when they need to be made and doesn’t really care what the rest of the world thinks. If I end up even half as tough as her, I’ll survive this earth and whatever it throws at me.
Despite her exterior of steel, there’s a soft heart in the middle of it all. She cries at the drop of a hat when anything bad happens to any family member. And everything she does is motivated by love.
Happy birthday, Mom! We love you!