Sunday, May 27, 2007


She stands there, old and stale. Wrinkles mark every chapter of her life in a definitive way. Darting around the room, her eyes make a desperate attempt to put names to the sea of faces in front of her:

The fat one. Hmmm.. must be Jeremy.

The one with Ang Kongs. Hmmm.. Justin? Cannot be, my grandson won't so "pai" one.

There you have it. My Grandma, stricken with Dementia and Alzheimer's. Her memory fails her every now and then, but if it happens to be her day, she remembers every single thing that has happened in the past 80 over years of her life.

I love my Grandma. Though she always whacks me and forces food down my throat when I was a child. And I know she loves me too. I recall the period when her memory first deterioated. She began to forget who is who in the family, but she always remembered me. Whenever I pick up her call, she'd instantanously know it's me upon hearing my voice.

"Ahhhhh.. Justin ah? Your mother leh?"

Sometimes being the black sheep of the family in the past is not a bad thing; people tend to remember you more than they do of others.

Although Grandma has taken the back seat in managing the family, her presence is still very much felt in the decisions the uncles and aunties make. Family gatherings are, in a way, centred around her. Which makes me think: would it still be the same when she passes on? Will we still meet, feast and be jolly when the hour comes for her to go?

I have my doubts, but I have my hopes too.

My cousins and I have talked in depth about this a couple of times and we believe that the best thing to do now is to start building bonds that are based not on responsibility - think: oh this is my family, therefore I must be there to show face -, but rather on the love that we could have for one another. We tried that out within our clique and realized that, yeah, we do love one another very much, even though we don't express it in the best way. We concluded that we'd organize gatherings among the cousins and make it a point to look out for one another the way our uncles and aunties have done for decades now. I mean, we're a family after all aren't we?

Still, the thought of losing Grandma chills my spine. I'd hold my breath each time I think about it and every year, I'd wonder if it'll be her last. I know what to do when Grandma is still alive; I'd embrace her, kiss her, hug her and joke with her everytime I see her. But it is when she departs that I'm at loss. I wouldn't know what to do then.

I love my Grandma.

I love you Grandma.

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