Monday, October 24, 2011


My 80-year-old grandmother was assisted daily for one year by her 60-year-old godddaughter

A man recently told me, "You priests always talk about the duties of the godparent.  But I never hear you talk about the obligations of the godchild."

As a matter of fact, according to Chamorro custom, there are some obligations of the godchild to the godparent.

The obligations of the godparent get more attention because it is more often the child that needs help.  But here are some obligations of the godchild toward the godparent(s) :

  •  the godchild (often) asks the blessing of the godparent before a wedding
  •  the godchild (must) ask the godparent to be a witness at the wedding; this is not a Church requirement, but a cultural one
  •  the godchild seeks the blessing of the godparent before any significant life change or event
  •  if the godparent is old or sick, and the godparent has no children or family to care for him/her, the godchild must care for the godparent
I saw this last cultural value lived out before my eyes.  My grandmother was 80 years old and weakening, spending almost all day in bed.  Without anyone telling me who she was, an elderly lady showed up one day and spent all day with my grandmother until my grandmother's sister came home from work after 5pm.  All the adults in the house worked 8-5, so this elderly lady spent the day with my grandmother, feeding her, taking her to the bathroom, talking to her, making sure she was okay.

She did this every weekday (the rest of us were home during the weekends) for a year.  As far as I know, she wasn't asked to do this.  She was my grandmother's goddaughter, and when she heard that her godmother needed this kind of help, she stepped forward.

The photo above was taken on my grandmother's 81st birthday in 1980, and that's her goddaughter behind her.  It was she who was at my grandmother's side when she quietly passed away one Saturday morning.  Though we were all home on the weekend, by that time, we all knew grandma wouldn't live long because she was so weak, so the goddaughter decided to come everyday anyway, since grandma could die at any moment.

She was a good goddaughter.  God reward her.

This is the kind of thing that makes me proud to be Chamorro.  Yine'ase'.  Ginefli'e.  Hinimitde.  Kindness.  Love.  Humility.

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