My Grandmother

She was an ever present constant in my brother's and my lives from the time I was about 3. My other grandmother (who took care of us from birth) had to go live with another uncle who had small babies to help out, so grandma came to live with us to help mom and dad out to take care of us during the day.

When Dave and I were old enough for kindergarten, mom would wake us up, make us breakfast, and then she would have to go to work. Sometimes my grandma would put our chocolate milk into milk bottles for us when we were waiting for the bus to take us to kindergarten, cos we wouldn't drink from the cups. I can still hear her cajoling us to drink it all up so that we wouldn't get hungry while at school, and then when we got home, she'd have lunch waiting for us. Sometimes the cajoling would turn into exasperations cos we just wouldn't listen. I remember how upset she'd be cos Dave and I would sit there with the bottles in our mouths but not drinking, and she'd threaten to call our mom!

We used to give her heart attacks with the viciousness of our fights.... and we fought ALL the time. She'd have just broken up a previous fight, and before she knew it, we'd be at it again. I remember this one time, where my brother got me so mad that I had grabbed a cleaver and (according to him... I don't remember it this way at all) chased him around the house with it. When I couldn't catch him (or so he says), I ran up the stairs, sat down right on the top step and yelled out "I'll kill myself!!!" Personally, I think I just did the dramatic "kill myself" bit. ^.~

I used to hate practicing piano, and on days that I didn't practice, when my mom asked, she'd lie for me so that I wouldn't get into trouble. Then the one day, my mom decided to ask the servant instead of my grandma or me, and the silly girl told her I didn't practice. Armed with that information, my mom asked me if I practiced, and of course, I said that I did. So mom packed up my bag, hauled me into the car and drove up this hill close by and told me that she didn't want a daughter who lied!! (not that she really would've left me there... we laugh about it now) Holy hell, I was all of 6 and scared shitless... and all the while I remembered my grandma chasing after us trying to stop my mom from putting me in the car.

My grandma had these tiny, tiny feet cos when she was a baby in China, they'd bind up her feet. She was from quite an affluent family, and I guess it was the practice in those days to bind up the girls' feet because it shows their status and daintiness. *roll eyes* I think she's wears like size 3 shoes or something like that and we used to have the hardest times finding her shoes.

As we all grew older, she would start to ache in her muscles and joints and many a nights were spent with me 'pounding' on her aching bones and chatting. She moved in with my uncle to help them out with his little kids when my brother and I were in our early teens, but we'd visit her almost every weekend.

I haven't seen her in about 10 years, the last time being when we went home to get married. She reminds every time I talk to her about how I promised her I would go home to visit and how I asked her to wait for me. I never did quite make it home. Something always came up, and over the last few years, with the 9/11 thing and immigration cracking down, it became a risk to leave, even though we had all our papers in order, because there was always a risk that our entry visa application could be denied. I call her every now and then, but all in all, I've talked to her way too little over the years.

Grandma has been going downhill health-wise in the last few months. She's 90, and while her mind is still very alert, her body was giving out.

They hospitalized grandma last week, and last night, mom called and said that her kidneys have failed.

This morning, I called mom's cell to see if I could talk to Grandma one last time, but she's in a semi-coma and they can't wake her up at will. They've been telling her that it's ok to let go, that we'll all be fine here, and that one day, we'll see her in heaven.

I knew I would be sad, but I really didn't think that grandma dying would hit me this hard or fill me with so many regrets about things that I can't change. I wish I could be there for mom... this has been really rough on her. Makes me think about the wisdom of building my life so far away from home.

I keep thinking of all the "I wish..." and all the "If only..." But at the end of the day, the bottom line is, barring a miracle, I shall never see her again, never talk to her again in my broken hokkien, never hear her say my name again, never hear her ask me how "Ah Tek" (that's how she pronounces Satish's name) is, never be able to tell her to wait for me to go home to see her.

She has had a full life... a good one filled with children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren that loves her. I know all that. I don't want for her to linger and suffer and be in pain. But it still doesn't make this hurt any less. My grandma is dying and there isn't anything I can do about it, but hope that I had been a good granddaughter and that she's proud of me.

I love you, Ah Ma.


Anonymous said…
What memories! I know my brother and I drove our Grams crazy with our orneriness! LOL! She was like a mom too us as our mom died when I was 9 and my brother was 6. My mom was Grams daughter. Treasure those memories sweetie.

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