Merely casualties of mortality.
The first blow was ” Your mother”. It can never be good. I have not spoken to her in years since out last outburst. “Your grandma” Lola, I called her. I knew her time would come but I did not expect it. I always wished that I would be in close proximity in her passing, but as all my carefully planned holidays pan out, it would happen in my first year of choosing to stay on in Melbourne. She was 82. I did not ask the specifications of her passing but I suspect it would have been old age. This lady, was my childhood hero. She survived WW2 and came to Malaysia from the Philippines after her English Marine husband cheated on her with her best friend. Shortly after, she lost her eye sight due to the war and had to fend for my mother. Fortunately she found a man good enough to look past her physical weakness and replaced the husband/father figure in their life. He passed before her.
I remember how she would recall her younger days and show me faded pictures of her past. I was always drawn to her like a moth to a flame. I would immerse myself in her life. We laughed together and when it got too painful for her to recall, cried together. She would lift up her tremendous black sunglasses and rub one of her hollow eyes. As a kid, she was careful to hide it from me. I wasn’t even aware or allowed to know she was visually impaired. But she did not let her lost of sight stop her from doing anything. She still cooked, bathed me, did the laundry, ironed the clothing(!) – everything. Sure, I found it a bit odd at times when she would step on me or call for me when I was sitting right in front of her. In her defense, I was a freakishly quiet child. It wasn’t until I was older that she told me. I loved her even more for it. She was a grandma before but then, she became my hero.
As I grew older, my visits frequented less. But every time I flew over for a visit, she would carefully hold the walls and follow the sound of my voice. She would be so happy to hear my presence. “Tersh?? Tercia? Dingggg! Come here come here.” She would run her hands through my face and cry. “Let me look at you. Ahhh you are so beautiful ding! Like your mother. Oh but too skinny ding!” (this was in my younger days of course)
My grandma never had the chance to see me even as an infant. She lost her eyesight long ago but she always believed I was beautiful. In her eyes, I was her beautiful grandchild. I didn’t know of such love where it surpassed physical appearance and physical presence. In her heart, she knew I was there even in the early mornings when she would stumble into the kitchen. “Ding?” – “Yes Lola. I’m here” – “It is so nice to see you smile in the morning”. It was as if she knew every countenance and facial expression on my face – a loving and assuring mien to boost my muted confidence.
My lasting memory of her would be a snapshot I took when she was perched on a sofa with a joint in her hand, with her dark black sunglasses and curly grayish hair like an afro. I will miss her tremendously and I can only hope that she forgives me for allowing my relationship with my mother to sway ours. I wish she left a number I could contact her by. I feel awful knowing that she’s going through this alone. If there is any one time to be there for your mother, it would be for the grievous demise of hers.
I love you LOLA! I miss you so much and I wish I had a chance to say good bye and to assure you that even though I wasn’t there for you, that I love you and held you close to my heart. I want you to know that you are my hero and I am sorry I never told you this. I don’t think I will ever be able to forgive myself for leaving. I am sorry I didn’t try harder with Letty. Perhaps it is time to make amends. I know that you pray about it and wish nothing more than for us to reconcile. I am sorry it took your passing for me to realise that Death lurks even on the brightest of days and takes with him the greatest of souls.
Merry Xmas Lola.