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My Grandmother (外婆-wài pó)

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.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • drey January 8, 2009, 9:37 pm

    KittyCat ~ I’m so very sorry for your loss. Your grandmother truly sounds like a wonderful person to have known. I know you’re also sad about the circumstances with the family. (((hugs))) I hope that they do know (or realize, if they somehow don’t know) how lucky they were to have her.

  • Vien January 9, 2009, 6:53 am

    Oh, I’m so sorry to hear the passing of your grandma. My deepest sympathy and condolence to you and your family.

  • giddy tigress January 9, 2009, 10:04 am

    I’m so sorry to hear of your AhMa’s passing. And yes, her long life is indeed a tribute to many. May she rest in peace.

  • Justin January 9, 2009, 10:44 am

    i know how that feels to you. My deepest sympathy to you and condolence to your family. May she rest in peace and dun be sad anymore. People come and go all this while. Its just the matter on how you accept it =)

  • Angeleyes January 9, 2009, 10:47 am

    I am so sorry to hear this news…. our deepest condolences to you and your family on your grandma passing.

    Personally, I think you should go pay your final respect to your grandma… if you and your family is not those pantang type esp CNY is near.

    My great grandma passed away on CNY eve and also on my dad’s birthday but all of us still give her a well send off as she has contributed so much of her life.

  • Paik Ling January 9, 2009, 5:03 pm

    My deepest condolences to you and your family. It’s true how one says that when the patriach/matriach is gone, the family crumbles. I;m sure you will be contribute to a farewell befitting to what she has done for you, in one way or another. It’s true that after the age of 90, it is a “blessing” hence even the wordings on the traditional funeral lanterns are written in red instead of blue/black. Once again, keep well, take care and God bless your Ah Ma.
    P/S: You’re STILL welcomed in my house over CNY!

  • LifeJuicer January 9, 2009, 9:26 pm

    So sorry for your lost. No one will ever be old enough to die. When someone goes, the bottom line is their gone, no matter how old and for that, my deepest condolences. May her soul rest in peace.

  • syn January 9, 2009, 9:44 pm

    my condolences to you and your family. so sorry to hear the news.

    take care you!

  • a-moms-diary January 9, 2009, 10:19 pm

    So sorry to hear about your grandma’s passing, and I hope even more that your extended family has sorted out the issue of placement of her ancestral tablet.

  • Shooi January 10, 2009, 11:08 pm

    So many such sad news recently. This is the 4th sad news that I have heard this week alone.

    Condolences to you and your family.

    Are u just not goin to the funeral or you are not going to the wake as well? Not even for a short while to pay your respect?

  • Kit January 11, 2009, 7:12 am

    Dear everyone – thank you all for your kind wishes and prayers.

    My Ahma is now laid to rest and is home at last because my uncle has welcomed her into his home.

    I’d *really* want to attend the wake and funeral but I just can’t due to the travel involved and I do not want to subject my son to another funeral.

  • Uncle Lee January 14, 2009, 5:46 am

    Hi Kitty Cat, my deepest sympathies to you and family. May she rest in peace. Lee.

  • Kit January 17, 2009, 10:36 pm

    Uncle Lee – Thank you for the wishes. I hope so too because the drama continues…

  • mott January 24, 2009, 6:50 pm

    Hey, Sorry I’m so late and deepest sympathies to you. Not sure if this means, that no celebrations for you, this year? Anyway, take care.