My grandmother who brought me up passed away two weeks ago. It was a tough time for my family. I realised three things, though.
1) I’ve always been an extremely emotional person, but when it came time to be strong because everyone else was breaking down, I realised I could. I never knew this before. But every time someone started crying, I would automatically stop and go and comfort and support them. It’s nice to know I can count on myself that way at times when it’s needed.
2) I’m a fairly independent person, actually, ferociously independent of late. And yet, at a time like this, all I wanted was to be in someone’s arms, really. I guess that’s when I realised, yeah, I really could use somebody in my life.
3) I had asked my mum if anyone was delivering the eulogy, and she had said there was no need for one. And then she asked me to write one at the last minute the night before the cremation. My mind was blank, and I was feeling pretty flustered. Maybe more due to the pressure of not being able to do a good job on such an important task. But now looking back, I’m really glad I had the opportunity to write and deliver that eulogy. I think, at the end of the day, writing really is my thing. And this was my way of saying goodbye to my Grammy. It’s really personal, but I guess I’d like to share it with you too. Maybe you’ve lost someone in your life too, maybe you might be able to relate as well. Anyway, thanks for all the condolences and support and concern you’ve offered me in the past few weeks. I really appreciate it all.
It’s funny because I distinctly recall when I was in Primary school and realised people would one day pass away, I asked Grandma, Can you don’t die can or not? She said I was siao (crazy), everyone has their time. She said when it’s time to go, it’s time to go. I guess this was just her time.
My Grandma loved me a lot. How do I know? Because she always made my zhang (rice dumplings) plain, no filling, and my pineapple tarts without pineapple, cuz she knows that’s how I like it. She always said I’m very gong (silly) cuz I dunno how to eat the ho liao (good stuff). But she also always just wanted the best for me, 开心就好 she would say. (What’s most important is that you’re happy)
Thank you for coming to not only pay your last respects to my grandmother, but also to support my family in our time of loss. It really means a lot to us.
I think every loss is heartbreaking and difficult but I think what makes this loss that much harder is because it’s so easy to miss her. It’s so easy to recall the days when Grandma was well, when she could still talk and eat and laugh and enjoy herself. I’m glad that when she still could, we got the chance to bring her out as much as possible, celebrate birthdays, Chinese New Year, go on holidays overseas, and eat durian with her when we can.
It’s so easy to recall how much we enjoyed being with her. It’s so easy to recall her singing hymns, cooking in the kitchen, and of course, scolding people.
Right? She always scolded us for all kinda things. Down to the last few years she was still tell the missys (nurses) at the nursing home: You naughty ah, I smack you.
I think when we remember Grandma it’s how jovial, cheerful, happy, and humourous she was. She was always talking nonsense, making everyone laugh. In other words, yi jin chu bee lah (she was really cute lah). Even one of the nurses also said it yesterday when they visited her at the wake – she said, she was the best patient ever that they ever took care of. Yes, it was so easy to love her.
But Grandma was also a tough woman. Not only how hard she fought to stay alive over the past few years despite strokes and ailments, or how even if limping she would take the bus still. This was a woman who lived through two world wars. She adapted however she could working for the British, she learnt Cantonese to work as a seamstress. She did everything she could with whatever she could to bring up her family. I don’t know about you but I think she did a fantastic job. Although she had no sons but they say five filial daughters are worth more than a distant son, right?
And family was very very important to her. She was very kiam (stingy) about everything but always generous to us. One thing my cousins and I will always remember growing up is our Saturday dinners. She would cook and all of us would come together to have dinner together. It was something we would always look forward to. She singlehandedly united our family. And you know what? It’s the reason why till this day, all her granddaughters are still so close. And why family also means so much to us.
There’s a quote that says “The love of family is life’s greatest blessing.” Today we say goodbye to someone who was a great blessing in our lives. But knowing that her memories and love will always, always live on inside our hearts. We love you Grandma. Always will.