Friday, 9th May 2014. My grandma, my beloved Ahma passed away on Monday 5th May 04:09 and Friday marked the day of her cremation and the urning of her ashes before placing it in the columbarium. The funeral had gone on for 4 days and it was the day where everything ends.
My memory of Ahma when she was still healthy and able to walk and talk properly is honestly blur. When I was born, she was already 75 years of age and as the years passed her health began to deteriorate. When I was young, I remember her talking to me in Hokkien and sometimes I would just roughly understand what she meant through her hand gestures. Everyday when I came home from school, I would call her and before I ate dinner I would always say to her, “Ahma jia peng”. And after the meal she would sit in her chair right in front of the television and watch her Hong Kong dramas. Sometime in primary school or the first two years of secondary school she fell twice outside the toilet in her room, and the second fall seriously impacted her mobility. She began to use a walking stick to walk, albeit with much difficulty. A few years later, she became seriously ill. The doctors suspected she had cancer, and my 7th aunt rejected the offer of becoming the vice principal of her school and instead quit to stay at home and take care of her. This affected my 7th aunt tremendously since she was pressured by Ahma’s ill health and and sunk into depression. My 7th aunt had always doted on me and all the other cousins since young, and she painstakingly tutored us all to the best of her abilities. It hurt all of us to see her suffering like that, but luckily in the past few years she opened herself up after taking up Buddhism. After that Ahma’s health has been going downhill. In 2012, due to the doctor’s delayed assessment and treatment, Ahma’s leg had to be amputated up to her knee. It really hurt my heart to see her with only one leg. Since then Ahma had been wheelchair-bound. She could not go to the toilet and had to do so in a pail attached to underneath the wheelchair. Slowly she lost her ability to swallow food properly, and had problems finishing her food. She also started showing signs of dementia and could not remember everyone. There was a period of time in 2013 when she suddenly could remember things vividly. She recognised people, she recalled events and she could easily converse with others. When you asked her for someone’s name, like for example mine, she would say, “Ah yee lo” like as if getting irritated that people thought she wouldn’t remember. Whenever I visited her, I would always stroke her face, tidied her hair and just look at her beautiful face. My Ahma was a beautiful woman. Even at the age of 95, her skin was smooth and her wrinkles were minimal. She had long black eyelashes, in contrast with her snow-white hair, that accentuated her beautiful eyes. My 7th aunt used to say that none of her children inherited her long pretty eyelashes. I remember staying at my Ahma’s house one day. My 7th aunt and I sat on the floor in front of her wheelchair, and my aunt sang Ahma’s favourite song, 望春红, to her. She would attempt to mumble a bit of the tune out because she had difficulties talking. I remember the times when my Ahma would lie on the bed, and when she saw me she would gently reach for my hand and then grip it tightly and stare at my face. While other women who reached old age became naggy and impatient, she was always so quiet and kind and gentle. She never made much noise, and just sat at one side and watched the younger generations.
I would miss the 初一s when we would all gather at our 阿嬷家 and see my Ahma dressed well and happily welcoming her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. I would miss the times when we celebrated my Ahma’s birthday year after year and having the comfort that my Ahma was going to live a long long time. I would miss the times when I could stroke her face, tidy her hair, held her hand and looked at her while she slept. I would miss hugging her tightly and kissing her face everytime I said goodbye to her. I would miss her so so, sooo much.
Watching her enter the crematory and furnace was a painful process. Everyone was crying and shouting and it was impossible to control my own tears. It really hurts to think that I wouldn’t be able to see her beautiful face ever again and I would have only photos to remember her by. She was a beautiful, kind, capable and amazing woman, raising 11 children and countless grandchildren. She had so much love to give, and she has in turned earned the respect and love of her children and grandchildren.