We call her, Mama Liza. I think she was a little shy of being five feet tall and it took her a while to recognize your face, but that didn’t define her loving heart and kind spirit. She went on dates with my grandpa to McDonald’s and she wore her best outfit with red lipstick. She also did exercise activities with her friends when her strength and health allowed her to. Mama Liza always encouraged my cousins and I to do our best and go to school; she said it in a way that instilled motivated rather than fear. She learned to read, write and improved her English by going to night classes along with the support of her husband. Mama Liza apologized every time for her “weak” English, but I told her that it’s perfect every time.
Her home was our haven and source of imagination. My cousins and I filled that house with Barney tapes, Spice Girls songs, hide-n-seek games, blanket-made forts, and peanut butter sandwiches, Nesquik milk, and Yan-Yan. We were more excited to sleep side-by-side on the living room floor rather than our own beds. Her house was located in the perfect distance from the playground, bus stop, Fun Factory, and the mom ‘n’ pop store on the corner. Most of my childhood memories took place in that house, which helps me to understand why family is such a great value in my life.
We grew up living by Mama Liza’s unique quotes and sayings. In her filipino accent, she advised us to fart because it’s healthy for us. Other common sayings would be, “Keep quiet,” “You behave,” and “Cheese is good for the eyes.” Mama Liza claimed that cheese comment to be true, especially because she always had a word search book in hand. She sang the same tune with different lyrics each time as she walked and danced around the house. My sister and I call those moments as Grandma singing the blues. My favorite song is about how she felt unloved whenever my grandpa didn’t listen to her, but little did she realize that my grandpa is hard of hearing. I enjoyed sitting back and listening to their misunderstood conversations because it was the perfect harmony of a 50+ year long marriage. My grandma’s song is definitely a Grammy Award Winner.