At 96 years old, this woman has been through it all.
She moved to America from China, following her husband to raise a family in a better situation than she was raised. She and my grandpa (whom I’ve never met), had four children together and made a living running a laundry mat. To say the least, they were impoverished.
When my mom was 12, her dad died. That left my grandmother to raise four kids alone… and poor.
But somehow, grams managed to do it. And judging by the characters I know my aunts, uncle and mother to be, she did a pretty good job on her own.
When I was a toddler, my grandmother stepped in as my babysitter. For about two years of my early life, my grandmother raised me, essentially. We were together every day, so I naturally picked up the Chinese language. But when I went to school, I lost it. From that point, I could no longer speak to her (my grandmother did not speak English).
She would show up to family gatherings and of course, I would always say hello, but aside from that, virtually nothing but glances and smiles at one another… for nearly two decades.
If language barriers didn’t separate us, then me moving away for school certainly did. Not that we ever had the chance to get super close after I lost my ability to speak Chinese, but still.
My grandmother has been staying in an assisted living facility for several years now… and she’s slowly been deteriorating.
From being diagnosed with dementia to breaking her hip, slowly losing her mind, and having a stroke… I am saddened to say my grandma is no longer with us.
I must say, however, she is a trooper for lasting as long as she did. There have been several moments where my family didn’t believe she was going to make it after multiple incidents occurred that were even more detrimental to her mental and physical health.
My grandma’s death was not unexpected, to put it in perspective.
But what tore me up, was getting the text from my mom telling me she passed.
I called my mom and just to hear the breaking of her voice broke my heart. I could hear the tears filling in her eyes and it created a hollow sinking space in my chest.
It made me put myself in her shoes. What if that was my mom? How would I be feeling? And to answer, if my mom feels the same way about her mother that I do about my mom, she’s hurting pretty bad. There is nothing that can replace the bond between a mother and a child, but particularly between a mother and daughter.
Up until this point, I’ve been fortunate enough to not ever really face a death in the family. It sucks. It hurts. It grapples with your emotions. It creates a haze over you for days.
But knowing my grandma doesn’t have to suffer anymore, knowing that her death was not entirely unexpected, knowing that she is in a better place and can reunite with her husband whom she lost decades ago, puts me a bit more at ease. I’m thankful she stuck it out as long as she could. I’m thankful she didn’t die in an unsettling manner. She died peacefully in her assisted living home with her kids by her side.
And I guess that’s all we could really ask… that this was the best way to leave this earth… peacefully and with loved ones holding your hand through your last breath.
RIP GRANDMA ❤