A Farewell to My Grandmother
March 13, 2012 § 1 Comment
On Monday morning, I said goodbye to a woman who’s seen me grow up for the 26 years of my life. She lives in the apartment next to mine. In fact I didn’t really “say goodbye”. She left this physical world in the wee hours of the morning, when I was at my laptop typing away.
I can blame myself for not having spent more time with her, but I won’t.
I still remember that in the days of Chinese New Year I spent with her. No pesky distant relatives, the kind that only came once a year or not at all. Just grandma and me. Til the end she was reaffirming the things that mattered to her: having her grandchildren around her. If not for my dialect- incapability, I would have said more to her. All I could to was to affirm the belief that I was and always will be her grandson.
Towards the last few weeks, she was racked with depression: she refused to get out of bed at times, refusing to eat at others. Her mind fled her, before her body did. When visitors came on the first day of Chinese New Year, she didn’t get out of bed to greet any of them.
She was a proud woman. As her health deteriorated and her walking abilities declined throughout the past several years, we had difficulty getting her to accept the cane, then the walking frame, and eventually the wheelchair.
Growing old is a challenging process, even in this modern age of medicine and computers.
She had been around for much of my life so far, that it seemed an unspoken promise that she would be around forever- a foolish thought that I had, that I could keep her for long. It is such times that I ought to have been reminding myself that loved objects will surely leave us, or are already leaving. Whatever life has granted us, it is really loaned to us.
The typical eulogy will state that “he/she had gone to a better place”. Sure, I will allow myself to think that, but I’d prefer the analogy that she was freed from a prison of discomfort.
“Why forget” I ask myself, “that death releases one from suffering, where one returns to a peaceful state before birth?”
Tradition and superstition binds us to the belief that death is fearful and should not be talked about, but death needs to be talked about – all the time.
A friend said that in these moments, the mind will be filled with “But I was going to…” and “If only I …” It matters not how much I had spent time with her, or how much her absence will be felt. What matters now is the presence she had been in life, that she played a significant part of my existence. That my life would have been lesser without her.
The recollection of her memory will eventually become pleasant to me, even if it is bittersweet. I had the good fortune of having a grandmother close at hand, even though fortune denied me the presence of a grandfather.
“Fortune has taken away, but fortune has given”
The remembrance of my grandmother serves to remind me to cherish those with me while I have them.
I will look to the time when the recollection of times spent with her will become a pleasant memory for me. For now, these memories taste somewhat harsh even if there is some pleasantness in it
“as in extremely old wines, it is their very bitterness that pleases us”
And her passing tells me to love those around me as if I should one day lose them, so that when I have lost them, I would have them still.
forsan et hæc olim meminisse iuvabit