Yaya Shirley

this one is for you

This is for my yaya Shirley who died right before I left for Adelaide.

Cancer took her.  I am sure she is in a better place.

She is the first person who taught me  good-bye. Then hello. And good bye again.

I cried buckets by the black iron gate of our old house up north when she left.  She was forced to leave after some butcher knife taunting incident with another helper happened.  A scene straight from a Pinoy soap opera.   I was five years old.

She came back to us years later.   And stayed awhile.

In a creative writing class while I was taking my Masters, I wrote a children’s story with Yaya Shirley (and Pluplu) in it. It was called “The Great Afternoon Nap Escape.”  It had illustrations and was published in the Junior Inquirer that year.  Aside from the way the yaya in my story spoke, that character was based on her.

Don’t remember much after that except five years ago when she called asking for help after being diagnosed with cancer.  She had so many malignant tumors, she had lost count.  She was gaunt.  Sad and sunken, she looked old; crescent moons under her eyes.  But her love was the same.

She was in remission for a couple of years before the cancer came back.

And last month, she passed away.

Yaya Shirley was special. Don’t ask me to explain.  She just was.

She taught me that things come and go; that people leave but come back; that everything is fluid, seasonal, temporary, finite but always, hopeful.


Good bye again, Yaya Shirls.  This one is for you.

grateful slice:  unforgettable people

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