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Grandma Knows


My late maternal grandmother has shared to us her superstitious beliefs. Every time we would walk down the stairs, she would tell us as children to do the sign of the cross so that the 'unseen' wouldn't push us down the stairs. She taught me to not close the bedroom door if there's an infant/toddler inside because the 'unseen' might lock them in. She taught me to pray before taking a bath so that the unseen wouldn't drown me and now, my four year-old would do the same, though I didn't tell him why. And despite all of their arguments, my mom agreed when it came to these things.

My grandmother had two children: my mom and uncle. My uncle devoted himself to teaching and never got married, so we, the 11 kids of Mom, are her only grandchildren. Since my grandfather died in 1982, Gran left their hometown and would stay either with my uncle in Manila or with us in the province. She and Mom argued a lot, because Gran has her favorites: my eldest sister, my second oldest brother and the tenth child (I'm the eleventh).

When my eldest sister returned after eloping with her boyfriend, Gran suggested that the couple rent a flat near my uncle's (in Manila). So they did. Gran lived with uncle and my sister and her partner were just next door. Gran didn't like my sister's partner, but she was excited for her first great-granddaughter's arrival. To make the story short, Gran took care of my sister's two children. My eldest niece died because of thalassemia at the age of two. My sister's relationship with her partner went rocky. It came to a point when Gran would scold him always. A year after the death of my niece, my sister's partner was killed at work, so there's just my sister and nephew. My nephew and I are six years apart, so, during summer vacation, I would go to Manila with Mom and stay with them. My nephew always wore red shirts. According to Gran, red keeps the spirits away. One time, my nephew and I were playing and Gran was sewing. I heard her say: "Pinatawad na kita. Pumunta ka na doon sa paroroonan mo." (I forgave you already. Go wherever you will/have to go.) Then, I saw her looking at the empty space by the doorway, as if talking to someone.

Years later, when I was older, she told me what happened that day. My nephew's father was there, but after she told him to leave, she never saw him again. That time, I did not take her seriously. I was ten, you know. Also, I never told anyone about the horrible faces I was seeing at the foot of my bed.

Gran's second favorite was my brother, J. J was the only one who wasn't able to finish studies among the 11 children, because his thinking was so slow. He had to repeat third grade two times. Then, he stopped and helped Mom and Papa earn money. Gran loved J so much that I would get jealous when he's sick and being taken care of Gran when she's with us for a vacation (or she decided that she misses her grandchildren). J was in his late 20's already, but Gran would still assist him when taking his medicine and give him her supply of food. In 2001, Gran had to undergo an operation, so she left our home and lived with my uncle again, but uncle asked J to visit him and Gran in Manila. He gave J a tour to the historical places in Manila, bought him new clothes and gave him money. When he returned home, most of his clothes were new and he looked fresh, not stressed.

In 2003, Gran had an eye operation because of her cataract. Then, my brother J met an accident on the night of August 3, 2003. He was in coma, and on the 4th, he passed away. My six sisters were all working in Manila that time. They all decided to come home, but didn't tell Gran. They didn't want her to come because she would surely cry and she just had an eye operation. Uncle arrived just in time for the burial and it was the first time I saw him cry. Later, he told us that grandma knew where he was going.

He said, "I told Mama that my colleague gave me a plane ticket to Bicol, and that I will be gone only for a day."

But Grandma cried silently and sad: "I know where you are going. J visited me already."

That time, I knew that she was telling the truth about my sister's partner. Gran cried a lot in their flat with only the neighbors to look after her. She wanted to come 'home' to her favorite grandson, but she wasn't allowed.

After nine years, Gran and uncle moved back to Bicol. I visited her often, until she was bedridden and couldn't eat anymore because of old age. When she died in her sleep, I was the first to arrive, her least favorite grandchild.

Thanks for reading.

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The following comments are submitted by users of this site and are not official positions by Please read our guidelines and the previous posts before posting. The author, MysticFrance, has the following expectation about your feedback: I will read the comments and participate in the discussion.

MysticFrance (5 stories) (88 posts)
1 week ago (2019-01-14)
Hi Val,

Yes, I agree with you. Actually, I was fine with that - the feeling of being her least favorite. After all, I was getting all the attention in my father's side because I was paternal grandpa's favourite and was really pampered. I would get exta allowance from him while my siblings would only get what my parents gave them. My cousins tease me every now and then about being granpa's apple of the eye then.

Anyway, about the superstition, I remember my sister-in-law. She was pregnant when her aunt died and she was there during the five-day wake. But she wasn't allowed to attend the funeral. I asked her last night why, and she said she wasn't allowed in the cemetery because there might be entities, or in our country, 'aswangs'. You heard of 'manananggal' or 'fetus snatcher'? No, they aren't living in the cemeteries, but they might be there, around.

When I was pregnant, too. I wasn't allowed to visit the cemetery on All Soul's Day. In our country, many people (especially in provinces) believe that entities are extra active during All Saints and All Souls Days. Our friends actually experienced a lot every year.

Thanks for your wonderful comment. Regards. ❤
valkricry (43 stories) (2991 posts) mod
2 weeks ago (2019-01-13)
Mystic, there's no explaining why someone maybe someone else's favorite, or at least appear that way. Obviously with J he needed the 'extra'. But sometimes we're told we have 'favorites' and we aren't even aware that it looks that way, or even know it!😆 But, you DO know that 'favorite' or not, Grandma did love you, right?
The superstition about pregnant women not attending funerals; I know very early in my pregnancy, when my mother passed, my doctor only let me travel to the funeral if I promised not to get too upset. Apparently that could have brought on a miscarriage. I've heard in some cultures, it's believed that the deceased's spirit might enter the fetus to be reborn. No idea if that relates to your culture or not though. Just something I heard or read somewhere.
MysticFrance (5 stories) (88 posts)
2 weeks ago (2019-01-13)

Thank you for the kind words and I'm sorry for your loss, too. And you weren't able to attend their funeral. My grandma was recovering from her operation that time and we prioritized her recovery. Maybe that's why J visited her, to say goodbye.

But in my country, there are a lot of superstitious beliefs. For example, a pregnant woman cannot attend a funeral. I don't understand why and it wasn't really explained to me. That's really sad, not being able to attend your loved one's funeral because you're pregnant (even though you're healthy and there's really nothing wrong).
RCRuskin (8 stories) (494 posts)
2 weeks ago (2019-01-12)
May J's Memory be Eternal.

Many people I know regret not being present for a loved one's funeral. I myself missed both my grandmom's and grandpop's funerals for example. There is a portion of the funeral service in the church I attend called The Last Kiss. It really helps give me closure when someone dies.

I hope, going forward, that folks will allow all the deceased's family and friends to attend the funeral or memorial service.
MysticFrance (5 stories) (88 posts)
2 weeks ago (2019-01-12)
Hi Val,

J was maybe 10 or 11 when he stopped because he couldn't pass the tests anymore. My siblings have to teach him from time to time how to read the brands and goods at supermarkets. When I was in high school, he would ask me how to read some words. His learning was so slow because when Mom was pregnant with him, she had a tumor as well. Maternity clinics and hospitals in our place don't have ultrasound yet in 1970s (I don't know when it was first used in the Philippines). Mom had to undergo X-ray and the radiation somehow caused a damage in the fetus' brain. That was their explanation why J was a slow learner. So before, when I was younger I found this odd: When he was still in our mother's womb, X-ray was not allowed because it will affect the unborn child but when he met an accident, he needed to be X-rayed, but the hospital he was brought in didn't have an X ray technician that time. No ambulance, too, so our family friend offered his car and my two other brothers drove J for an hour to the provincial hospital. He died there.

Maybe you're right. Grandma paid attention to him more because he needed it. But for my two sisters, they were really her favourites and they know it. 😜

My uncle really paid him more attention because J was already helping Mom with our rice store and canteen.

He helped us a lot. He would provide us daily allowances when we were all studying and whenever he would win the lottery (it's legal in our country, run by a charity office), he would share his little winnings. My mother didn't know what to do when he died. It was J who was always helping her.

Thanks for reading.
valkricry (43 stories) (2991 posts) mod
2 weeks ago (2019-01-12)
Hi, Mystic. Perhaps, Grandma didn't really have 'favorites' but, more of a 'this one needs more' attention attraction. I am a little confused on how old J was when he quit school - "He had to repeat third grade two times. Then, he stopped and helped Mom and Papa earn money." Do you mean he dropped out at the age of 8 or 9? Or just didn't continue on after highschool? (I'm just curious on this.)
But my point is, if he was being 'left behind' because of being a slow thinker, maybe Grandma felt he 'needed' the extra attention.
I come from a big family too, 8 kids, and I know there were lots of times parental attention seemed spread awfully thin. With 11 of you, I can easily imagine that there were times you felt invisible. Although usually the 'baby' of the family gets most of the attention. If this was the case, Grandma and your Uncle may have thought J just needed it more.
MysticFrance (5 stories) (88 posts)
2 weeks ago (2019-01-12)
Hi Majarlika012,

Thank you for your wonderful comment. Yes, she was really kind and loving and God gave her 92 years to live.

majarlika012 (9 stories) (79 posts)
2 weeks ago (2019-01-12)
Oohh. That was a very touching one. Gran seems very loving. Btw, sorry for your loss.

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