Wednesday, April 11, 2007

My Grandmother

I had a bad feeling that something might happen within my family. Cynical, I know. But my hunch came out of guilt for not calling or e-mailing my family lately. Especially my mom and dad.

And so when I heard the news from my sister, it really bothered me because through the years, I never tried to call my grandmother or mail her anything, using our international distance as an excuse. True, I was not close to her but she is still my dad's mom and my grandmother.

I have always wondered what it would have been like to grow up with grandparents--and to know them. Since I have yet to experience that, part of me feels empty. Luckily, I still have two grandmothers to love and so I am grateful to be part of my husband's family. I am lucky to feel what it is like to have a grandmother who is caring, loving, and makes it her priority that I learn from her and experience the holidays to the fullest. Sometimes having that relationship with my Grandma Fish makes me painfully aware of what I don't have with my parent's grandmothers. I try not to think about that.

Part of me regrets not sharing all of the joys in my life with my dying grandmother. Not sharing Thanksgiving, Christmas, or Easter with her in some way, however small.

It is evil of me to think I wouldn't cry as hard if my mother's mom was in this terminal situation. Don't get me wrong, I love her and will grieve when she passes on--she is still my grandmother. But she at least has the luxury of living in the city, maids to tend to her, she's made a couple trips to the U.S., and has been showered with love in the form of money by my mom.

My dad's mom, on the other hand, is poor and has struggled just to survive day to day life. She lives in the country of Laos and so that hard life ultimately led to her impending death. I think about how she does not have the comfort of spending her last days in a hospital where she'll have the care and comfort from any painand suffering she must be feeling. But I don't know that she is suffering and so I hope that when she passes, it will be quick and painless.

I also think I have a special connection to her because I was the grandchild who looked like her. I see my reflection on my laptop, next to her picture on my screen and think, will I look like her when I am old? Will I live longer than her?

I guess there is no sense in worrying about that. There is still a lot of life to live and I intend to do just that. Celebrate life in memory of my grandmother. At least I had the chance to see her for the short time that she visited us in WA and will always remember the times we had together.

This picture was taken in 2004 when my parents, sisters, and brother-in-law visited Laos and Thailand. On the far left in white is my mom's mom and in the middle front, wearing white is my dad's mom.

Quiet Mouse and Peeping Tom, respectively. They earned their nicknames during their visit in the states. My maternal grandmother, Quiet Mouse, never said much and when she did she was soft spoken and gentle. But Quiet Mouse was not so quiet after all when she ratted us out for having our boyfriends talk to us from outside our bedroom windows.

Peeping Tom was always curious. Because she was from the poor country, everything in the states was so new to her. The cold and hot water coming out of the faucet, the electric stove range that boiled hot water to cook her sticky rice, the toilet she had not known how to use until I showed her after walking in on her and seeing that she was standing over it, and her biggest curiousity was us grandkids. She was amused when we would blow dry our hair and curl our manes with a hot iron...peeping through the curtains that covered the glass doors to our bedroom.

I will always remember her story of going through the airport after landing in Seattle. She said, "We went in this tiny room, not much bigger than this (referring to our bathroom) and when the doors opened, we were in a different place, a larger room with luggage everywhere. How did they do that?!" She was convinced it was magic.

Smiling, I figured out that she had been in an elevator!

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