(This article is part of a series, “A Mother’s Journey” – a collection of stories in honour of all mothers, and those who are a mother at heart and spirit. I hope this would inspire and help other parents in some ways.)
“I do nothing except thank the Lord,” these are the words of Rita Fabie de Ramirez, 102 years old. “What else to ask for, I can’t ask for more, I have more than enough.”
I met Rita, who I call Lola Rita, a few years ago and since then, whenever I think of amazing women, among them that comes to mind is Lola Rita.
This remarkable woman gave birth to 13 children – 6 girls and 7 boys – and with this, she now has 46 grandchildren and 63 great-grandchildren including one due at the end of this month.
The eldest on both sides of her family, and now the last of her generation, Lola Rita never ceases to learn. She is unstoppable in harnessing her memory and continuously takes care of herself. At this age, conversation with her is still among those entertaining and lovely ones you can have.
She is full of positive vibes and it really feels good to be around her. She has no angst in life, no grudge or complaint against anyone. She inspires me. She took away my fear of getting old. Lola Rita is a living example of ageing with wit and grace.
“My mom grew up with nuns in the Philippines, and we (girls) were sent to all-girls school too. She was strict with us girls. I remember going to the church and she would send an escort with me. I was not allowed to go alone. She’s conservative,” says Marita Ramirez-Lee, one of the six girls of Lola Rita.
Despite her strictness, Lola Rita is just and fair among her children. Marita shares, “She’s fair when there are arguments among us (siblings) she always listens to both sides.”
“She loves to have fun with the family. She would drive and take us somewhere all the time, it doesn’t matter even if it is just at the lake shore,” adds Marita.
Lola Rita shared during her earlier years that she keeps herself busy crocheting or knitting blankets, gloves, scarves, etc. for her grandchildren, friends (I got one warm blanket, thank you), reading books, playing computer games as well as number games. She was also busy serving the Filipino community and Canadian society in various capacity as a community leader and volunteer. Compassion for others is among the traits she is known for.
These days, she continues doing all the mental games she used to do and keeping herself busy playing games on her iPad. Now living at a retirement home — with frequent visits from family members– whenever the family are together the theme will always be a recreation.
Merry-making is how she spends her time with family members. Games will be the feature of the gathering where some will be playing billiards, puzzles, chess and mahjong, which she still wins even at her recent birthday celebration last May 22nd.
One important lesson Lola Rita has taught me is being grateful to the One above. Her gratefulness is manifested and obviously returned through her loving family, long life and ageing with grace and pride.
Judging from how she is loved by her children down to great-grandchildren, I believe that she succeeded in raising children who adore and respect her all through her life. The unity and close-knit relationship of Lola Rita’s family are incredible.