by Timothy Sam
Remembering the life of my grandmother
|The trip home took less than five minutes. But to sit there and watch him sob and squeal like a baby--it definitely felt more than a mere three hundred seconds. The news came in as an unlawful shock since it occurred when things seemed to turn for the better. She was regaining her original figure. Her skin was back to its original tawny shade. Gone was all the crying and fear which had lingered on for the past few months. High hopes and dreams were the main topics of discussion in the family again; some of us were even planning a big family vacation. But like most deaths, my grandmother's demise on the morning of October 9, 2016 was entirely unexpected.
I've heard many stories about this anecdotal 'sense of doom' people felt before their loved ones pass. It may be a slight chill down your spine. Or an uncomfortable nudge in your heart. But on the morning of her death, all I felt was an overpowering indolence which kept me glued to my bed--just like every other Sunday morning. The phone rang thrice, but I ignored it. I assumed it was a routine wake-up call from my mother. It was a foolish thing to do, since minutes later my father was yelling at the door, ordering me to wake up and get dressed. Grandma was unconscious, and she is being rushed to the hospital.
Less than two hours later, I was in a car with my grandfather, heading to my grandparent's house to fetch some paperwork for grandma's Death Certificate.
Visiting my grandparent's was always something I took extreme pleasure in, especially since it usually involves spending time with my aunts, uncles and relatives alike. The air was always charged with a certain amount of energy, yet this time an ominous ghost town-like cloud eluded the ceilings. This house, the place where we all gathered for celebrations and festivities on a regular basis, had turned into a warehouse of fallen dreams. I firmly held my teary-eyed grandad by his arm, making sure he would not collapse. As I walked inside, I couldn't help but notice the vast amount of pictures decorating the entire house.
There were pictures of their wedding in 1962, photographs of my aunts, uncles and my father in their childhood all the way to their graduation portraits. Pictures of past family vacations. Candid--mostly humorous shots of the family. Most of the older family portraits had only 6 people. Then, the pictures began to transition, with the appearance of my toddler self, followed by my five cousins and my little brother. I noticed how the faces changed over time, from the slight traces of grey hair to the formation of wrinkles. It was not until I saw the more recent photographs, which included a final, 2013 family portrait of all sixteen family members, did I realize that I was walking through our timeline. I was walking through Grandma's life story.
The photographs have always been there. I simply hadn't put much thought into any of them, failing to appreciate the fact that I am here today only because two people fell in love decades ago. My cousins and I--we never fully comprehended or acknowledged the roots of our existence. It was always right in front of our eyes, but we didn't notice it. Like running water or electricity, I took life for granted. We took life for granted. We wake up every morning, carry out our routines throughout the day and crash into our beds late at night. It took the death of someone whom we hold dear to give us that well-needed wake up call. It took the death of my grandmother to remember all the good and the kindness we were blessed with.
To be frank, I must admit I hold a lot of regrets. I regret not spending enough time with her, not checking on her frequently, and at times not showing her the respect she deserves. By writing this article, I wish to redeem myself in my own terms. However truth to be told, it's too late. It is ironic how a eulogy is given only after the passing of a loved one. You can include the nicest things in the world in a eulogy, but what good does it do if they're dead? We often say 'Rest in Peace', but why can't we 'Live in Peace'? Death is one of those taboos that we often keep off our minds, but it is inevitable. Death is bound to every breathing man. We never know when it'll strike, but when it does, it strikes hard. So don't be like me. Don't be full of regrets when someone you love passes away, but rather give yourself no reason to have any regrets. As the old saying goes, "You never know how much you miss something until you've lost it." Go out and show everyone you care about how much you value them. How much they mean to you. Do it through acts of compassion, acts of kindness and acts of gratitude. Be grateful for every second you spend with them, since there will be a time where they'll be nothing more than a memory.
So long beloved grandma.
You have been and will always be in our hearts.