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My paternal grandmother passed away peacefully earlier this week, she was 88. In her younger days, she's known to be really good in math (something I apparently didn't inherit) and loved to watch Teochew opera, eat, drink and travel. She also had a weakness for cats. (I inherited most of these) We both have weird bendy thumbs, like her mother. She said it means we're creative. I'm still not if that's true. She's been through WWII, travelled everywhere except the Americas and Africa, never worked a day in her life and is mother to 7 children, grandmother to 14 grandchildren and great-grandmother to 5 little ones. I'll miss holding her hand, watching her play mahjong, pray at the altar, and most of all hearing her say "还是阿莉最乖，还是阿莉最疼嬷嬷”... She will be brought to her final resting place beside my late grandfather tomorrow, and I'll always keep her in my heart ❤️💔😢 Mdm Eng Huai Tuan 1 February 1930 - 2 May 2018
It’s been 2 years since I wrote something here.
In the past 2 weeks, 2 big events occurred and the way I perceive the world has slightly shifted.
My paternal grandmother passed away earlier than expected. She’s been ill with gall bladder and spine issues for a while, but in the end it was stage 4 pancreatic cancer that took her life. I managed to get home to be there for her before we buried her. Although I couldn’t say goodbye in person before she breathed her last breath, I felt at peace after grieving her death with my family members. She passed away on 2 May 2018, at 3:15pm. At that time I was waiting to board my flight back to Singapore in Hong Kong, and I just lost all control to hold back my tears, they just rained down my face. I had to wear sunglasses to stop people from staring. I’ll never forget how I booked my flight that morning in a booth at work, and told my colleagues why I had to go home. And how I forced myself to eat something and bought a bento box that tasted like paper.
Seeing her in the coffin for the first time – no – offering joss sticks at her wake made everything real. Seeing her in the coffin was hard, but the more I glanced at her, the more peaceful she looked, and I hoped that she’d reunite with my grandfather in the afterlife. Friends and relatives came to pay their respects, including my granduncle, grandma’s younger brother, who survived 4 strokes and is still lucid. He brought his family along and the first thing he said (after shedding tears) was, my grandma had a good life. And she did.
During the last session of prayers before we brought her in the coffin to her grave, I saw my uncles and aunts, as well as my mom who’ve been living with her for more than 30 years, sob really hard. It was so final and heartbreaking, but we all were glad she didn’t need to suffer from her illness any longer. I hope you’re watching over us and enjoying as many rounds of mahjong as you want now, 嬷嬷.
The other big thing that happened – Malaysian elections. That morning when I woke up to see the results that Pakatan Harapan (an opposition coalition assembled by Tun Dr Mahathir) won enough seats to form a new government, I almost didn’t believe it, but it really happened. I always doubted that Barisan National would be overcome and I’m glad I was wrong. I saw many posts from fellow Malaysian friends who are elated like I am, and suddenly I am prouder than ever to call myself Malaysian.
This was the first time I voted, and it was not easy getting my vote back home, since I registered as a postal voter and the package came late to Hong Kong. My husband’s friend collected our votes and flew back to KL, and through a Facebook page formed for this purpose, we found another person who flew from KL to JB, where my father collected my vote from Senai airport to drop it into the ballot box.
The way everyone worked together from all around the globe on a Google spreadsheet to crowdsource vote runners really made me realize how much Malaysians love our country and want change, and change we got.
I just hope that the next 5 years would stabilize and clean up the way Malaysia is run, so my country can finally realize its full potential, and that we can enjoy a place alongside the best governed nations in the world and play our part to negotiate and contribute to a better world.
PS: Pakatan Harapan won on 10 May, which incidentally was my grandfather’s death anniversary. According to my Aunt Amanda, he used to love discussing politics with my dad and uncles. Maybe my grandparents decided to celebrate their reunion by making some afterlife magic happen for us. 🙂
Fingers crossed for a better tomorrow for everyone. Peace.