THE words selfless, benevolent and diligent describe my great-grandmother, 93-year-old Gregoria “Ina” Nicholas Rioroso.
Growing up in the province and being the eldest among four children, Gregoria, at a very young age, learned how to sacrifice for the sake of her family. Though poverty did not allow her to experience education, she never complained. Instead, she helped her parents provide financially to support her siblings’ desire for education.
At the age of 8, she started selling food prepared by her mother around the different barrios in Pantabangan, Nueva Ecija. Whether it was ice-candy, banana cue, kamote cue and other food, she carried the food she sold with pride and did not return home until she was sold out.
Despite being deprived of a proper education, life lessons taught her to be tough and skilled.
When she became a mother, she continued being a good help to her husband. She continued to sell goods and food to earn money. She was able to provide for the needs of her five children and even supported the desire of her granddaughter Betty to have proper education. In fact, she helped many of her relatives when they needed help.
But apparently, the good you do for others it not always reciprocated.
Just October last year, Gregoria, at the age of 92, was admitted to the hospital because of a mild stroke. She woke up unable to move half of her body. She said that was the saddest point of her life when people thought she was going to die, and even her children thought she was leaving them.
Gregoria felt abandoned, she whose back was hunched due to decades of hard work, trying to help her family and relatives alike.
But she thanked God because not everyone turned their back on her. Betty, her granddaughter, and my mother, who she helped put through school, had faith and took charge of her recuperation. Betty shouldered her grandmother’s hospital bills and took care of Lola Ina. After almost two months, Gregoria recovered. She regained her strength, and went back to Pantabangan to open her sari-sari store, which she claimed was her life.
Lola Ina continues to thrive. Though she felt abandoned during the lowest point in her life, she never said anything that would hurt her relatives’ or children’s feelings. Not a single complaint came out of her mouth. Instead, she focused her eyes on Betty, who believed in her and gave her back the love and help she unselfishly lavished.
Betty, who opened our hearts and eyes, continue your good deeds.
And you, Lola Ina, though you’ll soon be gone, your kindness and story will remain in our hearts forever.