My dear old Chinese grandmother passed away this morning at around 11.30 am from breathing difficulties. She was 91 years old.
Her youngest daughter, her daughter-in-law and the wretched Indonesian maid (not helper).
She died in my uncle’s old apartment.
Now the big question will be: where will her ancestral tablet be?
My late grandfather’s tablet is now at my late uncle’s house under my auntie’s and cousins’ care.
Now that my uncle has passed away, some are unsure if they will perform the proper Chinese prayers and rituals associated with the Hungry Ghost Festival and etc.
The next eldest uncle is not a practising Taoist…
The following uncle and family are practising Taoists but will his wife want to welcome my grandfather’s and my grandmother’s ancestral tablets over to their place? My auntie will need to perform all the Chinese prayer rituals for them during Chinese New Year and etc.
The last uncle is also not a practising Taoist…
Will I be attending her funeral?
No, because everyone will be busy with the Chinese funeral preparations.
I do not know how my boy will be with my father’s recent funeral. He’ll only run around! Will he be seen as a nuisance? Since we will be travelling soon, I do not want to be in the middle of a Chinese family funeral – handling my late father’s funeral and the all the relatives was enough for me.
More importantly, I don’t think I want my son to be amidst all the Buddhist chanting, gong clanging and joss paper burning!
We just heard that the funeral will take place in 3 days’ time and not the traditional 5 days for Chinese.
Sadly, my cousin who had been living with my grandmother has been ordered to spend the night at her friend’s place. And my aunt, who’s living the closest by won’t even come over to accompany my other aunt the and the Indonesian maid. It’s amazing how when one’s dead, people scurry away like mice…
I feel so, so, so sad for my Ahma. I was practically raised by her as she cared for me when I was an infant since my mother was happier as a working mother, not a housewife.
As a toddler, I entertained her, my late grandfather and my uncles and aunties with my chatter, singing and dancing.
My beloved (外婆-wài pó)
I even recall sleeping with her on her bed when I was 7 or 8.
When I got my first job in Kuala Lumpur, I also slept with her on her bed when I visited during the weekends. In fact, I’m actually closer to my grandmother than I am to my own mother.
The last time I saw her, she was in the hospital and I’m grateful that my uncle brought me to see her twice the 3 days I was there.
I showed her all the photos of China I had in my digital camera and she was kind of proud to see how modern China has grown but also happy to hear that some of the old Chinese customs are practised there.
When I was about 7 months pregnant, we visited her once and she’d actually remarked,
“You are having a boy.”
That’s my grandmother. I haven’t had my ultrasound scan yet but this wise old woman just smiled and said it as surely as an obstetrician LOL
A loving grandmother
In her heydays, she’s got nearly 6 sons and daughters and 20 grandchildren surrounding her — and even more during the weekends.
Now that she’s gone, she’s all alone in the funeral parlour and nobody even wants to go near the place where she breathed her last.
My mother-in-law told me not to be too sad because in the Chinese culture, my Ahma has reached the wonderful stature of “eating old folks’ rice”?
My Ahma is already in her 90s and has lived a long life to see grandchildren and great-grandchildren (who will wear red for the funeral). Sigh…should I go for the funeral? My little boy would be one of the great-grandchildren proudly wearing red.
I don’t know…somehow, I feel that my poor, simple and grumpy late father was much more loved during his last moments than my wealthy, kind and generous grandmother.
I can only marvel at how ironic life has turned out for these two people I love so dearly.
I miss her and her simple loving ways.