DAVID GREENE, HOST:
It is StoryCorps time. During the holiday season, family is on the mind of so many of us. Grandma Crescenciana was no stranger to making sacrifices for her family. They called her Lola, and she spent her life caring for three generations. Recently, her grandson, Kenneth Tan, used StoryCorps Connect to tell his mother, Olivia, about the greatest lesson Lola ever taught him.
KENNETH TAN: Lola was my first roommate when I was a kid (laughter), so we shared a room. She would keep the light on every night because she would be up praying, and the light would still be on in the morning. I just always remember her in the kitchen making hopia, smoothing out the mung bean, making little pockets with the dough and stuffing them in pink doughnut boxes, and she would let me eat the duds. How did I not have, like, childhood diabetes?
OLIVIA TAN RONQUILLO: (Laughter) The kitchen was always greasy, and the electric bill was going up. But that was Lola's business, and she never stopped working. When she was little, she was the top student, but my mom did not finish high school because my grandfather passed away early. So she did all kinds of work to support her family. And when she had her children, she had to provide for us. There was nobody else. And then when Lola got older, she lived with us bringing up her grandchildren.
TAN: It was I think 2014, and I was in LA doing public health. And you called me. You were caring for Lola at the time. And so I wanted to come home to help care for Lola because she'd always been the one who took care of all of us. Before she passed, she'd tell me stories about her life. And I made a promise. I said I would record everything that I know about her and our family so that we know how we got here. I think I learned from Lola that there's a difference between your job and your work. Your job is something you leave behind at the end of a day, but your work is everything you leave behind at the end of a lifetime. Lola, she didn't have the most glamorous jobs. But I think her work was all of us.
TAN RONQUILLO: It's her love for us that I remember most. It was not so much of hugging or saying I love you, but it was all the things she did. You're right. We are her work.
GREENE: Kenneth Tan and his mom, Olivia, remembering Lola. If you and your family can't gather this holiday season, you can record cherished memories using StoryCorps Connect. Learn more at thegreatlisten.org.
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