Garlic Rice and Longanisa

I was reminded of my grandfather this morning while I was riding the bus. I was on one of the few empty seats when it stopped to pick up additional passengers. I didn’t pay any attention and feigned sleep as an older gentleman sat down next to me.

The general uneasiness that accompanied the seat sharing dissipated with the faint linger of garlic rice and longanisa–one of the few memories that I have of my grandfather.

I was sent back to a two bedroom apartment in San Francisco, somewhere in Daly City. The one with the basement that scared me completely to death. Towels that hung on racks that never dried. It was crowded with my aunt and uncle there as well. My parents and I were there temporarily, I guess we had just moved over from the Philippines.

I remember him in the mornings, reading the paper, hair slicked back with Brill cream, ready to go to work as a security guard for Wells Fargo Bank.

My paternal grandfather, or “Lolo” passed away long ago, too young to see me go from grade school to high school to college and onward.

I regret that I never found out his story when he was alive. I was too young then to understand that there was a value. To me, he was my grandfather.

Looking at the older gentleman, I realized he was lolo to someone else–teller of corny jokes, spoiler of grandchildren, keeper of history.

And I smiled and said, “Good morning.”