I have just returned to Bangkok from a whirlwind visit to Sibu, my mum's hometown in Sarawak, braving 6 flights in 3 days across 3 countries. This trip was emotionally challenging, because I did not envision myself needing to make a trip to potentially say a final goodbye to one of the dearest persons in my life - my maternal grandpa.
Maybe I had been naive for a long time now. This great man is already 97, has 8 filial children, even more grand-children and great-grandchildren, and is such a great head of the house that he is hugely respected by everyone, what more can a man ask for?
He has now lost his ability to use his legs, needs to be fed and taken care of by a full-time maid. For every meal, he painfully swallows a few sips of formula milk, hardly enough to keep his weak body functioning, and yet, he called my name when he saw me, he still smiles when spoken to, and bravely swallows every mouthful of milk, though it tastes bad and his swallowing reflex is giving up on him.
Just a few years ago, when he was already well over 90, I had a 60+ year-old uncle complaining to me that my grandpa had better skin than him. It pains me now to see him shrivelled, his wrinkled skin dry and shiny.
I held his hand as I sat beside him, surprised to see that this little man's hands were as big as mine though I stand a head taller than him, even more embarrassed to realise that it was the first time I held his hand.
I accompanied him as he slept under the rays of the setting sun, watching his face disappear into the darkness as night fell. It could well have been the last time I saw him. I kissed his forehead when I left, ironically, also for the first time.
I hope that when I eventually bring Noah back to Sarawak, he will have the privilege of sitting in great-Grandpa's embrace. I hope that I can hold his hand again, and kiss him again. But I hope even more that as he fights for his life now, he can have happiness and peace in his heart, that he feels satisfaction over what he has done over all these years, and all the love we are showering him with.
|Be Strong, Grandpa, we are all supporting you!|
As one beautiful life is born, another fights to see tomorrow's sunrise. I would like to accept this as part and parcel of life, but it's just so tough to let go, just so difficult to say goodbye.