My grandma passed away peacefully last Friday, 13 June 2008.
Few days earlier, she was already bedridden and doctor had warned us her "time" was approaching. Jeffrey (my darling) and I were on the way back to my hometown, hoping to be able to see her while she was still around. We did not anticipate that we would be attending a funeral. (Made me recall the two things that we should do without hesitation because there might not be second chance - 1) Visit those who are sick and 2) Attend funeral (or wake))
I was sad when I heard of the bad news. I started to think about Grandma, her presence and influences in my life. I hate myself for saying this, it was not a lot. The memory about her is frail. You see, I was not really close with Grandma since I was young. This included the rest of my family. Somehow, we just were not her favourites.
However, with her death, I let myself wonder why this could have happened instead of just accepting that it was Grandma's fault. My grandma and my mum had not been able to get along very well since they first met each other. My father, on the other hand, treated his second sister, who looked after him when he was young, more like his mother. I gathered my Grandma was busy helping her husband on their business then. It is also obvious to everyone that Grandma care for her youngest son the most.
According to my mother, when we were babies, my grandma did not help to look after us. It would be also my father's second sister who bathed us and looked after us when my mother was busy or sick. But Grandma had helped her daughters to take care of their children. All these always made us think her love was one-sided and it embittered us. That was why we were never really close to her. At times, I even thought Grandma was not a generally likable person.
I have not been offering Grandma any justice. Although Grandma may have been very forceful, deep inside, she is very likable and gentle. She often went out and spend times with her friends while most of the other grandma of her ages opt to stay at home at most of the times. Jeffrey met Grandma once, about few months ago. Surprisingly, they talked for a long time, even in different languages and dialects. They seemed to be able to understand each other very much, especially when they talked about God and karma. Jeffrey said to me he had taken a liking to her immediately then. When he said that again after Grandma passed away, I cried because I knew I was so wrong about her.
I also realize Grandma had lived her life very successfully. She was an orphan and adopted into a doctor family. She married and have 2 daughters and 2 sons. But her husband died shortly when the youngest son was just 3 years old. That youngest son was my father. She remarried again and had four more children, youngest being a son. She helped her new husband to start a business selling hardware/steel. Because of her excellent English, she was able to communicate well with the British back then. Their business thrived, and most people said she had contributed to sixty percent of the business success. She was also a very resilient and assertive woman. In fact, while she was sick, I never heard her complain about her predicaments at all. She had so many success attributes. She always told us that she wished to be cremated after her death, and her ashes to be thrown into the sea. She said she wanted to be free. She also did not want to create hassle for the people to visit and pray on her grave. She was really one unique lady!
At first when I heard about her death, I prayed for her and told her I would forgive whatever she had not done for me and I was just glad to be her granddaughter.
But afterwards, I prayed for her forgiveness for what I had not done for her. For I had not made the efforts to really get to know her. I was the one who failed to do things for her.
In my previous post, I wrote about how our parents shaped our characters. I feel in a lot of ways my mum had a lot of influences in me and my brothers being not close to Grandma. I could not blame my mum though because I know she just wanted to share her frustrations with her children since my Grandma did not like her. Unfortunately, I was too young to be able to see from multiple sides of the stories. I guess I also held some frustrations towards Grandma.
But, once I let go of my frustrations, the revelation came to me. I felt I just twisted 180 degree and suddenly, I was on the other side of the story.
I heard of this past incident from my mum last Friday. It just came out as a normal discussion between us about some topics that I could not recall. My mum said because she was protective of her children, at one time, she did not allow my elder brother to go on a cruise vacation with Grandma. Grandma wanted to bring my brother and my other cousin brother. But my mum could not trust Grandma of being able to look after two boys at the same time and worried that my brother may fall off the ship. So, it ended with just Grandma and my cousin brother going on the vacation. Although I could not settle on whether my mum had done the right thing, I surely felt it was a misfortune for my brother to be denied a chance to enjoy himself on a vacation as well as a chance to spend time and build a closer relationship with Grandma. To a greater extent, I gather the same misfortunes might have happened to me and my younger brother until eventually Grandma just could not bother with us anymore.
So, I have to admit that I had my head in the clouds for so long. It is actually not just on Grandma, but with everything else around me. But I am starting to feel the clouds are clearing, because I am surely seeing a lot more things than I used to see.
And finally, for the first time in my life, I see the other side of the story of Grandma.