“It’s all hard work!”

Elderly couples with their hands firmly clasped with the other’s hand make having a relationship look easy. What if the couple is an elderly pair playing a most jovial show tune on the grand piano of the Mayo Clinic?

I saw this on Youtube yesterday and was considerably amused. Now, people connect through social networking sites, and bond over movies and television. In Frances and Marlow Cowen’s days, they played show tunes together and worked for the Salvation Army.

I have seen too many relationships fail to know that it isn’t easy at all. Add two or three children to the mix, and you have a house of cards just waiting for that one false move that will make it collapse.

My mom’s cousin, Uncle Barney, was the apostolic nuncio to Haiti when the earthquake hit. Many people died in Haiti, including some of his colleagues when their building caved in. 2010 is his 25th year as an ordained priest. And, he almost did not reach it.

Uncle Barney’s parents are Lola Mading, my grandfather’s older sister, and Lolo Meliton. They have been wed for sixty-five years!

I remember meeting them for the first time when they came to the Philippines to retire almost ten years ago. Lolo always had this calm, malambing tone whenever he talked to Lola. They also did chores together. She would be washing the pots, while he would be scrubbing the dishes. She would be watering the plants, while he would be digging out the weeds.

Uncle Barney officiated the renewal of vows of his parents (July 2010)

Even then, I have silently wished for a relationship just like theirs: content and loving.

This was why I went to Bohol last July even if I had been there only a couple of months before. I wanted to be part of the double anniversary celebration that figured significantly into the lives of my mom’s family.

After the wedding reception, I came up to Lola and asked, “What’s the secret to a long and happy marriage?” And because I was her well-meaning, makulit grand-niece, she answered, “Hard work! It’s all hard work!”

“So, you don’t advice us (her grandchildren) to get married?” I teased.

She looked at me seriously, “With a good and caring man, you should.” By the way, we spoke in English because she didn’t know Tagalog and I wasn’t comfortable with my knowledge in Visayan.

“But, it’s hard to find a man like Lolo!”

She just smiled, nodded and said something like “Tinuod gyud na! (That is true, indeed!)” with a resigned air.

With that, I just said, “Thank you, Lola. I will definitely keep that in mind.” She then gamely posed for a picture with one of their ten children.

I just love the details on her terno.

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