Lessons from Lola

What Lola says, goes. Here she is telling my mom and me that my mom wants grandbabies. (My mom doesn’t actually want me to have kids at this moment, but that matters zero percent to Lola.)


Do you ever encounter people in your life who give you a glimpse of your future self (or, at least, what you hope your future self will be like)? The kind of people who say or do seemingly peculiar things, and yet you know exactly why they do said things, because those actions and thoughts stem from a certain kind of idiosyncratic thought process that you recognize in yourself?

In my experience, I’m blessed to have a couple of people in my life who provide me with a glimpse of the kind of person I could become in the future. My mom is one of them; however, for this post, I’m going to talk about one figure in my life who, in particular, consistently inspires me and shows me what a lifetime of achievement could look like if I embraced my weirdness to its full potential. That figure is my Lola.

In the first half-decade of my life, I spent a good deal of time tagging along with my Lola and Lolo on their daily errands while my mom was finishing up dental school during the week. During my excursions to Vons, Home Depot, and her many boarding care homes, Lola dropped a ton of knowledge about life through her actions and selflessness that, as an adult, I’ve learned are truly valuable lessons that still continue to challenge me to this day.

Here are just a few of those lessons.

Lolaism #1: Don’t be a do-nothing beezy.

Okay, so Lola doesn’t actually use the word “beezy”, but she was never really one to be a fan of those females who sat around all day and never got their hands dirty. A little background info on Lola: in a family full of teachers, she went against the grain and became a nurse instead, paving the way for other family members to pursue careers in healthcare. Later in life, when she wasn’t raising her five kids, hosting freshly-immigrated family members at her tiny condo, or working her full-time gig as a nurse, she went to seminars and taught herself the basic principles of business, just because, y’know, she wasn’t enough of a boss yet. And now, at 84, she still never wastes a moment to stress the importance of hard work, goals, and service whenever she sees me.

Now, admittedly, I can be pret-ty lazy. I sometimes (coughcoughalmostalwayscoughcough) do only one load of laundry at any given time, and the idea of vegging out never seems all that bad to me. But I need only think of my Lola’s relentless work ethic and my lazy butt pops right back up from whatever seat it took in the couch grooves of sloth and hebetude.


Lolaism #2: Finish school and work hard. Then (in no particular order): have babies; find a man who is hardworking, not “too rich”, and is loving; and marry said man.

Up until now, I’ve been lucky enough to skirt the where is your boyfriend/when are you getting married/now is the perfect age to have kids/etc. comments. But ever since I approached my mid-/late-twenties, I can no longer escape my Lola’s not-so-subtle hints at the fact that she wants to see me settle down and start a family. (“You know, 25/6/7 is the best age to start having kids…” How subtle, Lola!) But, all societal pressures on females aside, I gotta hand it to my Lola for telling me what’s up in what to look for in a guy. I mean, she found a fantastic life partner in my Lolo, and her marriage formed an incredible example for my mom to follow, which ultimately led to my mom building an amazing relationship with my awesome dad; she must be doing something right, eh?


Lolaism #3: If you and your spouse disagree about something, don’t fight in front of the kids. Go into a room and talk it out.

This past April, we celebrated my Lola and Lolo’s 59th wedding anniversary. This year (as with each year), we ask what their secret is to such a happy marriage, and their answer is always, “Don’t fight; go into a room and talk it out.” According to my mom, my Lola and Lolo never yelled at each other when they had a disagreement; instead, they would go into a room, discuss the matter in private, and not come out until they reached a resolution. Talk about #communicationgoals…


Lolaism #4: Life’s more fun when you clown everyone.

There are few people who are better at the game of punking than my Lola. No one has lied to my face about the fat, sugar, oil, salt, etc. content of a dish more than she has (“Neen, this chicken has no oil, no sugar, no salt, no fat!” “But Lola, this is fried chic—” “No oil, no sugar, no salt, no fat…”), and I’m pretty sure she’s gotten out of more speeding tickets than my friends and I have combined. (Not that I’ve, uh, been stopped for speeding before… ahem.) But while her lying is impressive in its own right (albeit, slightly scary), what strikes me as most electrifying is her sense of DGAF attitude from which that playful clowning stems. She honestly could not care less if you call her out on her story; she sticks to her guns, and even if her story is completely farfetched, her sense of conviction is so strong you almost always end up believing her anyway. (Or, at least, settle for playing along.) #nevernotmicdropping

The scary part in all of this is that I’m slowly finding myself clowning people the “Lola way,” deadpan expressions and lies and all. I never really got the fun in it as a child, but boy, is it entertaining as an adult. Teheheh. (Jk, I won’t do that to you… all the time.)


Lolaism #5: Forgiveness is always better than holding grudges. And even if forgiveness isn’t warranted, it’s better to take the high road, rise up, and wipe your hands clean of the bulls**t so you can move on with your life.

*For the record, my Lola has never used the word “bulls**t” (or, that I’ve heard of, at least). But I think a lot of how she handles difficult situations is by cleansing any kind of bulls**t situation from her life by taking the “kill ’em with kindness” approach. No matter how wrong the other person is, she somehow finds it in her heart to forgive them and then moves on with her merry life.

This is probably one of the most enigmatic qualities my Lola possesses that I’ve spent a good portion of my life deciphering. I’ve seen people try to take advantage of her goodness, and yet, she remains unperturbed. Maybe it’s her uncanny ability to see goodness in all people. Or maybe it’s her inner-queen reminding her that’s she’s above people’s pettiness. But regardless of what it is, it’s something that I never forget when I’m encountering personal conflicts of my own.


I don’t know if I’ll be exactly like my Lola when I’m her age. Cultural and generational differences probably make my perspective a little different than hers (and vice versa). But with the lessons she’s taught through her selflessness and service throughout the years, I’m bound to always look up to her as an incredibly influential figure in my life.


4 thoughts on “Lessons from Lola”

  1. Wow!!!! Notes taken, Nina!!!! Lola is definitely a living saint, if you ask me. Great writing! Thanks for sharing darling. I miss and love you.


    1. Thanks, Ate! She is certainly saintly, although it does not come without a side of mischief every so often 🙂 Nevertheless, she remains an inspiration to me always! Thanks for the love! Miss you ❤


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