Anna Kharis: Living Life Grace Upon Grace

Karen Quiñones-Axalan
Posted November 2, 2019 from Philippines
Happy birthday to my sister-daughter, Anna Kharis!
Modeling A Dress Made from A Mindanaoan Tribal Fabric
Modeling A Dress Made from A Mindanaoan Tribal Fabric (1/2)

I have been told that parents should be mindful of naming their children for they will become what their name means. 

Anna Kharis, my fourth sibling, came to our family when I was twelve years old. It was always a momentous celebration every time my parents announced a pregnancy. Anna's arrival was more memorable for me because it was the same year when my father lost his well-paying job. It worried my expectant mother who gave birth to private hospitals to her first three children.

It worried me, too, that the moment I heard the news, I secretly went to my parent's room to check and count the remaining cash inside my father's wallet. I thought back then, we could only survive for a month or two. 

It was a year of utmost uncertainty for our family because since then, my father never had another source of income. When it came to the day that our new sister would be named, our parent's friend, tita Dinah suggest naming her "Kharis", a variation of Charis which came from the Greek Word Karis meaning "grace, kindness, and life".

We all agreed that GRACE was a timely message our family needed at that time. My mother added Anna to her name, derived from Greek meaning, " grace, favor, and beautiful". So we were all expectant of the arrival of our sibling carrying "double grace".

On November 2, she was born inside a crowded public hospital. According to my mother, it was her most traumatic birth story where she got infections due to unsanitary procedures done to her. But despite all those birth challenges, Anna Kharis came into this world via normal delivery as a healthy baby, weighing 8.8 kilos. She was our biggest baby! She has been a survivor since birth.

Kharis was our source of daily joy as we transitioned from prosperity to poverty. Just by looking at her smile or giggle made us happy even when it meant we skipped a few meals in a day. Because of her presence, we didn't feel the impact of living in want. When we see her, we remember our family receives double grace.

As a child, our grandma trained her to sell banana cue (a popular Filipino snack) to our neighbors. She would walk in the village calling neighbors to buy from her. They would go outside their houses and buy her snacks because they found her cute and adorable. This training helped build her confidence growing up. 

Years rapidly passed by. Our "double grace" became a teenager who developed grit and confidence early in life. She entered college at the age of 15 with no assurance of finishing it. Since I was the only one with income at that time, I had to budget my meager salary to give her and our youngest sister their daily school allowance (aside from giving financial support to our parents). However, what I could share was not enough, so Kharis looked for opportunities to support herself while studying.

With her height of 5 feet and 9 inches, she did some part-time modeling.  It was not easy for her to juggle her studies and her work schedules, but she managed them well. She finally finished college at 19 years old.

During her graduation day, I was her "parent" who accompanied her to her commencement ceremony. While we were marching together as "parent and daughter", I tried so hard to hold back my tears as my thoughts wondered how we survived that financial ordeal. I was so proud of my sister-daughter!

In Filipino homes, it is common for adult children to stay with their parents as long as they are single. There are numerous cases when even married children stay with their parents. As soon as she got a job, Kharis left home and rent a place on her own. She took two to three jobs in order to survive. As much as she can, she kept her problems to herself.

Since we are distance apart, she, together with my sisters, made a chat group that we called SIZZUMS (slang for sisters). It is through that space where we update once another and share our personal pains. I'm the eldest, with 8, 12, and 18 years ahead to three of my sister respectively.  We learn to communicate with each other (and even tolerate each other's quirkiness.haha.). We also try to heal together from past traumatic events in life.

I'm grateful that I'm blessed with biological sisters who choose to build our relationship stronger despite painful choices in the past that wounded us deeply. I'm grateful that we share an unbreakable bond. When the world becomes tougher, we turned to each other for love and support. Again, we see this as grace upon grace.

Today, Kharis turns 25 years old. She now works as a virtual assistant and a part-time model.  She has grown into an independent, generous, and caring member of the family. She and our other sister Kaycee are now supporting our youngest sister's college education. I see GRACE at work once again.

Dear Sizzum Kharis,

I am proud of you! Thank you for bringing a different flavor to our family. Stay authentic. Reach for your dreams. Soar, if you must! Life is tough, but you are tougher. Stay strong. Keep on going because you have no idea who you are inspiring. I love you, dear sister-daughter! 

Happy birthday!


Comments 23

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Nov 02
Nov 02

Happy birthday Kharis! Enjoy your day and have a blast! May the Lord grants everything that you desire in life. Love you!

Thank you, sizzum Kaycee! May God bless and keep you, too!

Dr Jackie
Nov 02
Nov 02

Hi Karen!!!! Guess what? I named my sister’s third child: Charis!!! And she’s so adorable . Your writing skills are really amazing!! I read each word till the end ! Thank u for sharing this story with us!!

Happy birthday Karis dear!!

Wow! That’s great to know about Charis! That’s the same meaning as Kharis. So cool.

Awww. Thank you for your kind words, Dr Jacky. I’m humbled.

Thanks for the greeting, too!

Jill Langhus
Nov 02
Nov 02

Hello Dear Karen:-)

I didn't know you had another excellent story up your sleeve. I agree with Dr. Jacky that your writing skills are amazing, and improving all the time, I may end, as your confidence and unique voice becomes stronger.

And, wow, Happy Birthday to Kharis. What beautiful photos you shared, especially the purple hair:-) You are so fortunate to have such close knit sisters. I'm jealous, I have to admit:-) And, it's so great that you all support each other financially as well as emotionally. She must be so proud, too, of your journey, who you've become, and what you have achieved thus far!?

Is Kharis on the platform:-) Ha. You know what I'm going to say!

Oh, how did she get so tall, too. Where they feeding her Miracle Grow:-) That's an American product for feeding plants, btw:-) I hope you appreciate my ever-offbeat humor:-)

Keep em' coming, dear!


Aww. Thank you, Jill. You know I’m not as confident with my writing skills so it really means a lot when you say that.

I post that purple for you. Haha. That’s to show you I have a sister who likes coloring her hair, too.

Oh, maybe she’s proud. I don’t know she doesn’t say it. Haha.

I’ve been convincing her to join World Pulse but she said she’s a very private person. I don’t know how she became so tall. She was our largest baby.

Oh I see on Miracle Grow. We don’t have that here I guess.

Thanks again!

Jill Langhus
Nov 06
Nov 06

You're very welcome:-)

We need to change that:-) I'm glad my feedback matters, though.

Yeah, I thought so on the purple hair:-)

Yes, I think she's proud of you.

Well, I hope she decides to come out of her shell, too, so we can support her, too, and hear her stories as well:-)


You're feedback always matters, Jill. Yes, I wish, too. I've been convincing her.haha.

Have a great day!

Jill Langhus
Nov 08
Nov 08

Well, thank you, ma'am:-)

I bet you have. Let me know if I can help... wink:-)

You, too, and weekend!!


You're welcome, dear. Sure. I hope so.

Jill Langhus
Nov 11
Nov 11

:-) XX

Anita Shrestha
Nov 02
Nov 02

Dear Karen
So nice writing story, wow, hugs. And very beautiful photo

Thank you our dear consistent encourage!

Nov 02
Nov 02

Dear Karen,
Your sister is such a pretty young lady, I will quickly get a boy so he marry her haha.
Wow, that is a nice birthday spacing I was thinking. Your might have started the process much earlier to have time for space I suppose.
I gave eight years birth space to my youngest sister, even with that we were like oh why haha.

Thanks for sharing and I hope she is having a nice day. Please you all take care of yourselves.

Thank you, sister Lizzy.

Haha. She already is in a relationship.

Yes, we have a large gap. People tend to think they are my daughters.haha

Thanks again, dear! Have a great day!

Nov 06
Nov 06

Narrow escape haha.

Nov 02
Nov 02

Happy Birthday to your beautiful Sizzums! How I wish I also have a sister.

Thank you, Mae Ann! Oh, you have all of us here as your sister.

Nov 04
Nov 04

Dear Karen,
Please convey my best wishes to adorable sister Anna Kharis on her birthday.

I called my only younger sister(daughter) to say I love her, just after reading your story.
Your story made me so emotional. I had a quick journey back to my personal life back, where together with my younger brother and sister, we made a beautiful and memorable life despite the various emotional hardships.
As you say, I am also like a mother to them and they are children after we lost our mother in our childhood. Till now the bond between us is very strong and we are there for each other all the time in our best possible ways.
Anyways, thank you so much for a very touching and inspiring story, my dear Karen. I can see your pride and love towards sizzums. wow nothing as satisfying as seeing your siblings growing and progressing, I know the feelings.

and the coincident, my both of the siblings call me Anna Di (sis) :):), a short form of Anjana ... and your sister's name is Anna .. oh i loved this coincidence...
Like Jill, i also want to see her in platform :) :)
Love and regards,

Hello, Anjana,

This is such a lovely feedback! Thank you also for sharing your relationship with your siblings.

I feel honored my story resonates with you.

Oh, interesting on Anna and Anjana. So cool!

Oh, I’ve been telling her to join World Pulse, but she said she’s a private person and is uncomfortable with sharing her stories.

Thank you again dear Ana!

Beth Lacey
Nov 05
Nov 05

Karen, I love to read your posts

Aww. How humbling that is. Thank you, dear sis!

Nov 28
Nov 28

Happy birthday to your sister Kaye

The Same my husband belief that the name must be according to the meaning so that they will become what their name means. All my children we calculate first there name and we look what is the meaning. Like my youngest Akshaya, meaning is wealth and she born during the celebration of Akshaya Lakshmi ( the hindu Goddess). Lakshmi is there goddess of money, we name our daughter Akshaya Lakshmi.