Monday, February 7, 2011


My grandmother passed a few weeks ago. This is the grandmother whom I loved very much, and I remembered vividly growing up with her nagging, cooking, etc. When I was younger, I remembered despising her for "being annoying", or in other words, "caring".

Born into a wealthy family, her first predicament was probably the fact that she was born really pretty, and she was known as the flower of the village. Thus, her being sold at a high price to the wealthiest man, who is my grandfather, as his third wife. Imagine her hanging out with the children of my grandfather's first wife because they are of the same age, it feels pretty weird.

My grandfather then passed, I'm not sure why, but I'm guessing it was due to illness, and everyone including all the relatives, cheated my grandmother of all the wealth she has, while she has to take care of eight children, though some are already grown up by that time.

I remembered my grandmother living with us in Jakarta for a while, I'm not sure why, because when I grew older, I remembered her not wanting to live with us because her traditional mindset will not allow herself to live with her daughter instead of her son. When I went to Singapore at a young age, school has started before my maid's documents were approved. There was no one to take care of us, and my grandmother volunteered to be with us. Perhaps that was the first time she cooked and cleaned on a daily basis.

She was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer early last year. It was a miracle that she was able to live a year after the diagnosis without chemotherapy and only oral medications. We did not tell her about the illness, but I'm sure she guessed it at the end of her life. She looked well when I went back in the Summer last year. She was able to talk to me and walk around; she looked happy. In December, she was all skin and bones, and was not able to get up at all. She was hospitalized so many times. I could see that she was in pain. It was heartbreaking to see the disease sucking the life out of one of the most energetic lady I know.

Close to her parting, she said to prepare a bowl of salt and light so she could walk in the dark when she moved on. She said a young boy said so. It was probably her oldest son that did not survive long in the world. It was the most heartbreaking thing she could say, yet she said it with such a calm heart. It was as though she did not fear facing this life that had given her a hard time, and when she was finally able to enjoy life once more yet life did not give the chance to her, she smiled anyway.

My Mom said that she would rather her own Mom leave in peace, rather than go through all this pain. That was the most mature and strong-willed words to say, which made me admire my Mom so much more. She was calm, taking care of many things with the funeral and all the other necessary things to be done, although I can imagine her breaking inside. She was the strong one, and she had to be the support, and I could only image the facade she put on while handling these matters. It breaks my heart.

When I heard the news, I was having a 2-week intensive in school, leaving me with no time to think about this at all. I thought about going home to join in the funeral, but I would not be able to make it in time since I am 2 days late due to the time difference, and the others have left to her burial place. Also, the superstitious side of my family requires me to not join in the procession because of my birth zodiac of a tiger, in which if I were to attend, it would not be good for both the dead and the living.

I thought that was good, for if I were to have a breather and had time to think about all these things, I would break down. I love my grandmother so much for all the things that she has done and given to my brother and I when we were young and did not know better. Unknowingly, now that my intensive is over, my emotions come back all at once.

I guess avoidance does not work as a long-term strategy. I guess the best way to mourn is to face this pain that I have tried so hard to avoid. I have yet to cry a single tear for her, and yet as I write this, I feel my heart giving way. I'm not even sure if I am strong enough to talk to someone without crying. And I don't know which side she has ended up at, though I surely hope that I will be able to see her again in heaven. I trust that God knows the heart, the deeds, and all the noble things she has done to bring His Kingdom to this family, though she was not a believer.

My mourning has just started, and I don't know when it will end. I guess I shall take my time.


  1. Thanks for sharing that here. With you from NY.

  2. Condolences to you and your family, Karlin.