(by Bri and Aleya Howington)
Our grandmother grew up in the Philippines before marrying and moving to the United States with our mother. She always told us stories about the mango trees outside her bedroom window and the big family dinners that consisted of her parents and 13 siblings. The most cherished dish was pancit and lumpia (Filipino versions of rice noodles and spring rolls). Without fail, she would make this dish for every church potluck, school event, or friendly gathering. Others would try it and always mention how lucky we were to have such a good cook for a “mother,” not knowing that the food was always warmer than the affection we received.
Our grandmother felt it best not to tell us about our mother for years, nor clarify that she was in fact our grandmother. It wasn’t until we were pre-teens that we overheard a conversation she was having with a friend. Obviously we were upset. So we approached her and inquired about the whereabouts of our mother. To make matters worse, she lied—again. “Your mother is dead,” she explained, “and she was incapable of taking care of you girls, so I chose to be your mother.”