Conversation with my manicurist {and a letter of gratitude}

I do my own nails. I splurge with an occasional pedicure every now and then. During pregnancy, I do not have a choice because I cannot reach my toes. Funny thing, my manicurist (John – name changed!) only sees me during pregnancy.

Just like my hairdresser, John pretty much knows about my life! I always request him to do my nails because he takes his time compared to the other manicurist. He also is very personable. I am not weirded out at all that a guy is doing my nails! Haha. Most of all he does a great job. I love how my nails turn out.

We talk about the usual stuff: when I am due, what plans we have for the weekend (that’s usually my mani/pedi time), the kids, when I am finally gonna start my “real” job etc. etc. But today, our conversation steered towards our grandparents. He is visiting his in CA. He said he is thankful that he speaks his native language or else he won’t be able to converse with his grandparents.

I told him proudly that my grandparents know how to speak, write and understand English. He was surprised. Things that I took for granted or things I “assumed” were the norm specially when I was young were obviously not the norm. So naive!

I am lucky to have grandparents who finished highschool. Just a little background, I am from a farming family. My maternal great-grandpa was a farmer and my greatgrandma was a homemaker. I am not sure how far they got in their education. My maternal grandma finished highschool in the 1950s. Since the US military had a big presence in the Philippines post World War II, English was taught in the school system. So that’s one advantage already there for my grandparents compared to other Southeast Asian countries.

But what I am most proud of is that my grandparents got my parents through college. Lolo P drove a cab at the Subic US Naval base (where he practiced his English) and Mama C had her own little business growing these plants to sell the citrus fruit. She’d tell us stories that she’d commute 2 hours to bring a whole week’s meal to my mom and uncle so they didn’t have to grocery shop or cook. She wanted them to focus on their studies. Plus, it’s obviously cheaper to have home cooked meals rather than eat out.

The sacrifices of my grandparents bore fruit. My mom and uncle are the first generation to achieve a degree in my family. The sacrifices of my parents also brought me where I am today.

At a young age, I saw poverty all over the Philippines. I saw hardships and hunger. My sister and I always had full bellies -- Thanks again to my grandparents and parents. Both of my parents worked overseas because compensation was better abroad. And again, thanks be to God, Mom settled here in the US. If not for that, I won’t have had the opportunity to go to private schools, obtain a degree or finish my MD training.

I see all my achievements stemming from the sacrifices of that loving mom who picked out calamansi under the heat of the sun, who rode a bus to see her kids 2 hours away bringing a basket filled to the brim. Mama C cooks really delicious Filipino food and I tried replicating those meals several times before and failed.

Oh how I miss my Mama. She raised me and my sister while mom and dad were away.

All this contemplation and gratitude came from my conversation with my manicurist. Who would have thought.

Thanks mama and lolo for all you’ve done. I miss you so much. I want to show you your greatgrandkids in person – maybe soon!

Thanks mom and dad for making that hard choice to leave me and Lady. I understand you did it for us and for our future. I don’t disagree a bit!

O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
his steadfast love endures for ever!

Psalm 118:1


  1. What a beautiful, inspiring post! Thanks for sharing.

    Beautiful nails too :)

  2. So sweet! And pretty pink. :)


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