My dear old Chinese grandmother passed away this morning at around 11.30 am from breathing difficulties.
Who were with her? Her youngest daughter, her daughter-in-law and the wretched Indonesian maid. She died in my uncle’s old apartment.
Did she get her wish? Doesn’t seem like it because there is no Chinese altar there and neither is he staying there. Now the big question will be: where will her ancestral tablet be set up?
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 are properly performing the prayers and rituals…
The next eldest uncle is not a practising Taoist…
The following uncle and family are practising Taoists but will his wife wanna move my grandfather’s and welcome my grandmother’s tablet over to their place?
The last uncle is also not a practising Taoist…
Will we be attending the funeral? No, because everyone will be busy with the funeral preparations that the boy and I will only be a burden. He’ll only run around recklessly! Especially as we will be travelling soon.
More importantly, I don’t think I want him to be amidst all the chanting, gong clanging and joss paper burning! My father’s recent albeit Catholic funeral is enough, I think.
We just heard that the funeral will take place in 3 days’ time and not the traditional 5 days for Chinese. Wow…modern living has certainly sped up a lot things, even funerals!!!
Sadly, my cousin who had been living with my grandmother has been ordered by her mum 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 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 while my mother worked. As a toddler, I entertained her, my late grandfather and my uncles and aunties with my chatter, singing and dancing.
I even recall sleeping with her on her bed when I was 7 or 8. When I worked in KL, I also slept with her on her bed when I visited during the weekends. In fact, I’m actually closer to her 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 2 times 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.
She’s a really nice old lady and I remember this one time my naughty uncle played a prank on her. He was chatting online with me on his laptop and I asked to try out the voice chat. When it worked, he told me that she was there and asked me to call out to her.
My poor Ahma was sitting and resting quietly when she heard my voice. She actually remarked,
“I must be hearing things because I thought I heard X’s voice…”
And my naughty uncle replied that yes, she’s hearing things and asked me to call her again, only louder. When I did, my Ahma was seriously puzzled until my uncle laughingly told her that he’s talking to me using the laptop.
It isn’t easy explaining technology to the elderly so my uncle simplified it by saying that computers now had built-in phones. That was one funny moment we three had!
In her heydays, she’s got nearly 6 children 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).
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.