My grandmother is 94 this year and while her mind is still very good, she is getting frail and needs a walking stick to get around for short distances and a frame to get about. She’s got a full time carer and it’s good to know that the family can afford it and that she can continue living in her home.
My grandmother had pretty much raised me. I haven’t really seen her more than a few times since I moved to Australia but she’s still one of the few of my blood relatives that is actually family on a fundamental level.
I didn’t spend all that much time with her while I was in KL. I visited every day for a couple of hours, looked at some photos with her, translated for SG whenever I could. Even though we can communicate with Cantonese, my grasp of the language isn’t that good and there isn’t much of my life to talk about anyway that she would understand.
She said the usual grandmother things: that I should cut my hair; that I should save money and not waste it travelling the world; that I should be careful and not go to Africa or India because they were dangerous and filthy places. A long time ago it would have bothered me but these days, it comforted me to hear her familiar advice. At least she no longer needed to tell me to find a partner.
I didn’t really think about what my visit there really meant until the last day when I got up to go, said goodbye and saw how sad she was, how thin and small she had become with age. It struck me then that this would probably be the last time that I would see her and I knew then that that she felt the same way.
I found saying goodbye and leaving a lot more difficult than I expected. Sitting on the bus going back into town, I thought about why it has taken so long for me to value my grandmother and how much she means to me.