Category Archives: The Lola Diaries

The Lola Diaries is a documentary of 86-year-old Pacita, better known as Lola (“grandma” in Tagalog) to her grandchildren, who is cared for by her youngest child— my amazing husband Romie. Lola suffered a stroke in 2007 and now lives with dementia, and we have been caring for her ever since. This new arrangement eventually led to me quitting my corporate job and made myself available to help care for Lola, and also pursue my photography business full time. As a family portrait photographer, I’ve been capturing other people’s families on my camera for over six years, but photographing my own family was almost non-existent … So I started pointing my [phone] camera at Romie after Lola was admitted in the hospital from a head injury. I had never seen my husband so scared as long as I’ve known him. Seeing the fear in his eyes at the thought of losing his mother was the reason I felt that I needed to take more photos of the two of them together. The Lola Diaries capture many of their moments together, good times and bad. When I first shared these raw images on my Facebook and Instagram accounts, the responses were overwhelming. The love and support from friends and family — and even total strangers from around the world — were nothing short of amazing. We thank you all for your kind, warm words.
 
//You can see more images from The Lola Diaries (#loladiaries) on Instagram; and videos on YouTube.

Our Family Pictures on Hawaii with Jonathan Canlas Photography!

When my husband Romie and I decided to be his mother’s caregivers — she would live with us and we’d take care of her every need — we never realized how much it would change our lives … lots of ups and downs. And patience. To watch someone you love slowly lose grasp of the little things the rest of us find so simple to do, like feeding yourself, is not easy and almost heart-breaking. Her name is Pacita, but she’s known as Lola to her many grandchildren and their children. This is Lola’s diary…

As a portrait photographer based in Portland, Oregon, I photograph other people’s weddings and families all the time; I document their precious time together … The laughter, the tears, the joy, the memories of it all. Sometimes I get so focused on creating memories for others that I overlook my own family— I can’t ever forget about my own. (I hope you don’t forget yours either.) Last fall, when Lola’s dementia seemed to have gone for the worst, my husband Romie hugged me in silent tears … We felt helpless because nothing we did was making any difference for her. She was a stone, zombie if you will. So, we vowed to do whatever it took (and immediately!) to get beautiful images by one of my favorite family photographers: Jonathan Canlas. I don’t have any professional portraits of my own grandmother to treasure; she passed away years ago yet the pain still runs deep and I wish to have beautiful photographs of us together before she was sick. Because I didn’t want Romie to miss on having incredible portraits with his mom… We made it happen even though we had no idea how we could really pay for it all. But, I’d rather make memories than regrets.

//You can follow her Instagram account for more posts on The Lola Diaries. (If Lola could still speak, she may say): “Want me to smile? Give me MONEY!!” 

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Helping Aging Parents with Dementia

When my husband Romie and I decided to be his mother’s caregivers — she would live with us and we’d take care of her every need — we never realized how much it would change our lives … lots of ups and downs. And patience. To watch someone you love slowly lose grasp of the little things the rest of us find so simple to do, like feeding yourself, is not easy and almost heart-breaking. Her name is Pacita, but she’s known as Lola to her many grandchildren and their children. This is Lola’s diary…

Today, she turns exactly one… The Lola Diaries, that is. But, Lola herself is 87 years young! And you know what, she hardly has any wrinkles!? It must be because of her complex to avoid too much time in the sun (like most older Asian generations). Currently, Lola is not very responsive; she sometimes won’t chew/swallow anything down (not even water) so Romie and I have been dealing with a lot of challenges lately. However, at the end of the day, she’s still stronger than we could have imagined she’d be over seven years ago when she suffered her second stroke … The entire right side of her face was so numb that she couldn’t communicate to us at all; she could only look at us as if she was desperately trying to tell us something. Yesterday, the doctor said that she has yet another bladder infection which is what we tend to overlook when Lola lapse into an “episode.” She’s being treated for it now and we’re starting to see her come around again … This morning she smiled for us!

On my own birthday this summer, Lola sang Happy Birthday to me so in a way this is her birthday song, too— but, you have to wake up, Lola! Let’s get crackin’ already!

//You can follow her Instagram account for more posts on The Lola Diaries. (A peek in to Lola’s life with dementia…)

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When Your Elderly Parent Needs You

When taking care of your parents in their old age, especially one who lives with dementia, it’s full of ups and downs— lots of ups and downs. When it’s up, it’s so fulfilling and we are reminded why we do what we do every day. When it’s down, you wonder if you will have the strength to do what you have to do (every day). On December 2, it will be a whole year since The Lola Diaries [officially] started … This photo journal, the documentation of Romie’s relationship with his 86yo mother, became something more than I had imagined; sharing snippets of our daily lives on Instagram and Facebook was just another post to me until I realized it would affect people in more ways— a lot more people. So much has happened in the year as well as so little, which will be detailed in “just another post.”

A description of how this online journal began: The Lola Diaries is a documentary of 86-year-old Pacita, better known as Lola (“grandma” in Tagalog) to her grandchildren, who is cared for by her youngest child— my amazing husband Romie. Lola suffered a stroke in 2007 and now lives with dementia, and we have been caring for her ever since. This new arrangement eventually led to me quitting my corporate job and made myself available to help care for Lola, and also pursue my photography business full time. As a family portrait photographer, I’ve been capturing other people’s families on my camera for over six years, but photographing my own family was almost non-existent … So I started pointing my [phone] camera at Romie after Lola was admitted in the hospital from a head injury. I had never seen my husband so scared as long as I’ve known him. Seeing the fear in his eyes at the thought of losing his mother was the reason I felt that I needed to take more photos of the two of them together.

In the last set of images, as soon as Lola was able to return home after two weeks in the hospital with a head injury, she was admitted again for severe abdominal pain — clostridium difficult, the worst kind that is usually contracted at hospitals — making her total stay in the hospital over three weeks! (It took a lot out of her fragile body.)

//You can follow her Instagram account for more posts on The Lola Diaries. (The first day of our photo journey…)

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