April 25, 2008

Bye bye Ata

My grandmother passed away peacefully early yesterday morning, on the 32nd wedding anniversary of my parents. The news did not come as a surprise as the family knew it was only a matter of time, she had been in hospital the last couple of weeks for bedsores and loss of appetite.

Just as her condition was improving, on Monday she had breathing difficulties and was put on a respirator. The doctor had advised that the family come to see her immediately and we were all mentally prepared for her to leave us that day, however by late evening, her breathing wasn't as laboured as before so we thought there was still hope yet.

But yesterday morning, the dreaded call came at about 6.30 am, Cousin Pam called me to deliver the news. Even though I knew she had to leave us eventually, I was still very saddened. At least Aunty Sarda and Aunty Susie reached the hospital in time to witness her last breath, she died just a couple of minutes after they arrived. The official cause of death was pneumonia.

As the youngest granddaughter, I was always told she had a soft spot for me. She used to live with us when I was younger and look after me, and relatives would often comment that I looked like her a little. What I will miss most about her is that despite her old age, she still had a sharp tongue, often making sarcastic remarks when there were long gaps in between our visits. Her memory was amazing, she could speak fluent Teochew and she was still keeping track of 4-D in her 90s! She kept to a very healthy diet during her lifetime, but she used to roll her own tobacco cigarettes. In fact, I remember sucking on some empty rolls when I was younger.

While she had a very long life (103 yrs according to her IC), she also had a very tough life. By Indian standards, she married late - I think 29, but that marriage did not last long for she was widowed by her mid-30s during the Japanese Occupation, with 4 young children ranging from age 2 to 5 to bring up. It was not easy, but she managed with the help of the extended family.

I'm going to miss my grandmother, but I am really glad Natalie got to meet her earlier last month. Ata had said a long time ago that she would only die after I have a child, and she kept her word, passing on just under 3 months from Nutty's arrival.

The whole of yesterday was spent running errands preparing for the wake and then hanging out at Sengkang. She liked white, so we ensured we got her a white casket and went to Far East Flora to get some white flowers.

I think my grandma is the original Hot Pink Chick. Aunty Sarda fished out her wedding sari to lay on her body and it turned out to be a bright pink. I never knew that, since all the photos were black and white...I hope I get to keep some of her things as souvenirs. I lost the diamond nose stud she bequeathed to me years ago, maybe it will turn up somewhere.

In the meantime, Ata - wherever you are, I love you. Thank you for being my grandmother, I will miss you.

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