My grandmother is turning 86 next week.
She was orphaned quite young and was raised by her aunts and uncles in the Pangasinan Province of the Republic of the Philippines.
Instead of going to school as a child, she was put to work at the farm that her family owned raising onions and string beans among other crops. She traveled the island of Luzon peddling produce and acquiring several different dialects along the way to help her do so.
Money was meager. She married and moved to the city of Manila where she continued to sell produce while her husband drove jeepney to make ends meet and raise a family. They had 10 children; 8 daughters and 2 sons.
Her husband was ill for most of his life. He was only able to work so much before succumbing to his sickness. My grandmother for a good long time was the only source of income for her large family. She worked her ass off.
Bogged by illiteracy, raising 10 kids, working long hours with a sick husband, my grandmother was able to raise enough money to send all of her children through college.
About 35 years ago, a couple of her daughters moved to the States to raise their families. She followed them a dozen or so years later. The other 8 siblings stayed in the home country to raise their own families.
These last couple of years has her children slowly relocating to the States. With their own children all grown-up and starting their adult lives, they decided to be closer to their mother.
Next week, my grandmother will turn 86 and will be in the presence of all of her children for her birthday for the first time in over 40 years.
It’s gonna be pretty awesome because my grandmother is pretty awesome.