For Mamia

My eulogy for Mamia, my beautiful grandmother, Merced Hernaez-Banzon. Written on the day she passed away, September 24, 2014, which I shared on Facebook. 

mamia and me

Mamia was never sentimental, so I have nothing to share like her saying, “I’m so proud of you…” and stuff like that. When I was taking my MA, she said, “What’s your MA about?” I said, “Art Theory.” She nodded and said, “But what use is that?” When I went home and made a point to see her this year, she said to me, “You should invest in a condo! Your Tito Baby will give you a good deal.” No “I miss you,” no “I’m proud of you.”

What she did instead was tell other people how proud she was of us, and, if possible, help us fight our battles. In college, because I couldn’t come to rehearsal, I was not included in a tour to China. When she saw Steve at one of the recitals, she said, “Steve naman, bakit hindi mo sinama si Joelle sa China?” If there was a visual representation of “Hindi mo kailangan magbuhat ng bangko, buhay pa lola mo…” there would be a picture of my grandmother. 

She watched my shows, always sitting in the front row to make sure she could see her grandchildren. After I failed to complete 32 fouettes in a black swan pas de deux, she said, “Hey, that part where you were turning many many turns was really impressive.” And she was talking about the double pique turns I did after I couldn’t finish the fouettes.

She once asked me if I was ever getting married. I said, he doesn’t want to marry me. She said, “Well, marriage isn’t everything. Have some fruit salad.” She asked only once and never asked again.


She taught me a lot about independence, racism, style, grace, how to enjoy your life. She taught me about forgiveness. She was the strongest woman I know. No, scratch that, the strongest person I know. Next to her is my Mom. If I am strong, they are why.

I miss you, Mamia. I know you were proud of me. I love you very much. RIP.


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