I lost my grandmother on Aug 14. She's the only other grandparent I've lost, apart from my grandpa (her husband) when I was four. Back then, I suppose things were easier.
I guess I didn't even know what death meant. It helped that I didn't have to head out to the cemetery as mum was pregnant with my brother then.
Popo suffered a stroke 20-odd days before she passed on. I visited her twice (or was it thrice) before she passed on. First time I went back, she seemed pretty alert and happy, having being able to respond to my questions, even hitting my hand as I attempted to extract some blackheads from her face. Hehe.
Second time round, she didn't look so good and seemed to have lost the use of her tongue. Which is a bad sign for stroke patients. I held her hand and persuaded her to hang in there, for it's a lifelong dream of mine to have my grandmothers be present at my wedding. A very selfish thought on my part but on the other hand, we were getting ready to take her to our home but we first had to renovate the home to make it more wheelchair-friendly.
We were too late.
Close friends and longtime readers would know that Popo lived alone for a while until Aunt first got her a maid. Unfortunately, things didn't quite work out but we were lucky enough to get another maid for her, bless her.
I'm sounding incoherent as I sit in her home, struggling to pick up the pieces. After a prayer session today, we went back to her hem as the relatives sieved through her belongings in search of something else. I'm still struggling to come to terms with the fact that she's gone.
I'm still living in denial. Of course, a very dear friend managed to cheer me up by saying
“Time will heal all, as cheesy as it sounds.”
But you know what? I'm still reeling in shock. Being the overemotional crybaby that I am, not one night goes by without me crying myself to sleep. I may be editing copies at work and suddenly be overwhelmed with emotion.
I may well be doing the dishes and suddenly hear her voice going
“Ooi make sure your sponge picks up enough sabun (soap)!”
As the relatives went through her clothes, I recognized many of them and could quickly associate them with the places we went, all the good times we had.
Pink floral top – she wore this while we were sipping Boh tea and nibbling on English shortbread at the Boh Tea plantation in Cameron Highlands.
Black-red mandarin collared top – she wore this during one of her many visits to Penang, what made it memorable was the fact that she managed to catch up with relatives on grandpa's side. I think it was the last they saw of her, and her of them.
And the list goes on.
It hurts to think she's not here anymore. It hurts to think no one will be picking the phone up on the other end should I try dialling her number. In the past, I had to call a couple of times before she would breathlessly answer the phone.
Most, if not all of our conversations would begin as such:
Popo: Sorry, *huffs and puffs* I had to come from the back of the house (kitchen).
Me: Haha you pangsai (poop) again ah!
Popo: No! My life doesn't only revolve around pooping, okay!?!
In her later years, the loo became Popo's best friend. She would need it wherever she goes, before she steps out of the home and I used to get so irritated about it.
Here's an example.
Five minutes before leaving home, having already peed beforehand.
Teena-clad Popo: Eh, are we going out now?
Me: Yes, shall I load you into the car? (Inside joke that's not-so-inside anymore – I used to refer to her as cargo)
Popo: Wait I need to pee.
Me: But you just went!
Popo: I want to go again.
Me: Come on grandma, we are heading out. Can't you do the deed in your diapers?
Popo: No way. I need to wash my privates.
That's Popo for you.
She was beautiful, kind and filled with a wicked sense of humour. She brought so much joy into our lives.
Now, all that's left is silence. When will the hurt go away?