Genara Rubi (1919-2011) is a bastion of faith. She passed on last year at age 92, after a long haul of nine silent years due to a massive stroke that rendered half of her body dead and silenced her speech.
But she lived that long. My mother, her eldest child Jocelyn, took care of Lola Nara since she became bedridden. Together, they hurdled the most basic of life’s challenges…stubbornly clinging on to it despite a lingering disability.
In the rare times that I visited Lola in Stockton, massaging her, singing to her, feeding her, wheeling her to the park…I asked myself if ever she really would have wanted to just cross to the other line. For somebody who was feisty, noisy, a big time laugher (my word), hardworking, she may not want to live in silence and immobility for too long.
But I can only surmise that, because what is clear is her willingness and faith to live day by day, by the care of my mom and youngest brother, which lasted for nine difficult years. I would also take credit the amazing health technology and medical care accorded to her, without these my grandmother could have easily slipped away.
Genara Rubi’s life has always been that of hard work and faith. These made her as solid as a rock.
My aunt Linda, her second child, tells the story of how Lola and my dear grandpa Domiciano Rubi Sr. went through the most difficult time of their lives, the outbreak of World War II. I didn’t remember having known this at all…that Lola gave birth to Tita Linda when the Japanese invaded the island of Siquijor.
What could have been worse than being caught in an invasive war with your lives on the line and giving birth to a new life at the same time.
Faith must have pulled my grandparents through, larger than their fear and pain and exhaustion. My aunt was born during the war, and as my cousin Aldous Arbon (my aunt’s ghost writer) has put it…”against the pangs of war, there was a birth pang; the first brought death, the second brought life.”
Circumstances like these mold characters of people to be strong and unwavering. How lucky they were to have withered that through their faith, because there was nothing else could disturb them.
At one time, I saw Lola Nara easily relaxed my mother while we were aboard a rickety small boat in the dead of the stormy night on the way to Cebu. My mom woke up my grandma and frightfully said, Ma, it is so stormy and getting too rough. Lola just told her, just lay down there and pray. Mom obliged as the defunct Dona Magna was tossed by giant waves throughout the night. As a child, I innocently thought the big waves were all right, it made me sleep faster.
I saw my grandmother’s faith when she went through the painful process of letting go of my grandfather to lung cancer. She took care of him in those difficult moments, stretching money for his medicines and keeping him clean and comfortable in bed.
Grandma did not think so much there was going to be a miracle of life for my grandfather. At the time, she thought it was best to gracefully humble down in pain, and say God’s will be done.
Genara Rubi’s life is my anchor. She was a happy farmer and fantastic dress maker, and she glorified such humble life with faith.
Up to this moment, I can remember her laughter, her singing, her scoldings. I see her work efficiently as a housekeeper and dressmaker. Oh how she effectively delegated house chores to my aunts and uncles, making them responsible people in their later years.
Genara Rubi, you rock.