I have always found people to be extremely lucky to be able to share their lives with their grandparents. Grandparents play an exceptionally important role in a child’s upbringing, as a chinese saying goes “家有一老，如有一宝”,which means having an elderly in the family is like having a treasure.
The above picture with me my grandma and my baby sister in it was taken during my sister’s 1st birthday,back in the year 2000.
In 2015, just a day after the mid autumn festival, (the 16th day of the 8th lunar month), grandma lost her battle to lung cancer aged 77. In a blink of an eye, she has left us for more than a year and i would like to cease this opportunity to say a few words about this amazing woman.
From what I’ve learnt from her over the years, she had always led quite a difficult life. She was abandoned by her birth parents but luckily, she was adopted by a spinster. She never had the chance to go to school due to poverty, but she managed to self-learn chinese characters up to the extent where she is able to write and read. She once told me that she learnt chinese characters by acquiring old newspapers and trying to figure the words out herself, and when doubts arise, she would then ask around for guidance from the people in the association they joined. ( her adoptive mother came from 顺德，shunde, china to Malaysia and had joined a Shunde Association, set up by shunde people to help each other)
Fast forward to after she married my grandfather who drove lorries transporting construction material for a living, life had improved to a certain extent but they were still struggling with funds to make ends meet sometimes. They had 3 children to bring up, my two aunts and my dad. According to my dad and my aunts, grandma has always been a very strict mother, everything must be prim and proper. Maybe it was this attitude that makes good well behaved children.
There was once when my grandfather had to undergo surgery, and when the breadwinner of the family was unable to work, my grandmother had to go our and work to feed her children. She went to learn from one of her friends’ mother, who was a Thai lady, how to cook Thai laksa noodles and started selling noodles in a local coffee shop. Until this day I have failed to find a Thai laksa recipe which is compatible with hers.
In 1992, my grandfather died in an accident, caused by construction materials falling from his lorry onto him. Another hard time for my grandmother but luckily by then her children had already grown up and started working.
5 years later, I was born and I had always loved her dearly. During school holidays I would spend the week staying at her place during which I would accompany her to the park for her morning walks, follow her on bus trips to the market, have this little small chats with her when both of us fail to fall asleep. And these sweet loving memories will be there to accompany me though my grandmother has left.
As a Buddhist, I know that nothing is permanent and all of us will pass through the stages of birth, old age, sickness and ultimately death. Bearing this thought in mind it mitigates the sadness and grief of losing someone dear.