Farewell, Grandma

Last Monday, Feb 27, was my gradma’s last day in this world. She has been sick and bedridden for five months. She has been in intensive care but she then finally gave in and slept away. It was 5-something a.m. after Subuh when my dad, knocked on my door and said, “let’s go to Bandung. Grandma.” “what happened to her?” I asked and he just shrugged. I rushed to my mom, “what happened to grandma?” she also shrugged but we both already anticipated something. I looked at my phone and there was nothing in our family whatsapp group. My dad went to shower and we called my aunt and uncle in Bandung but didn’t put through. 5.30, we tried calling again to my uncle, and my mom asked what had happened and my uncle casually said, “grandma just died. Alhamdulillah the process was good and swift.”

Well, okay.

I didn’t have special relationship with her, though. We lived in different cities and we didn’t really get along that well, compared to other grandchildren. But I never doubted her affection for me. I always know that she cared for me and somehow proud of me.

On the other hand, I always think that she was annoying. She was raised differently (obsiously) the Javanese way, while I was raised more in Sumatran way. Adding loose personality to rigid household isn’t a very great combo, you know. Complains were always flying from both directions. She called me ‘orang Padang’[1], I think she had never thought of me as one of her kind (Sundanese + Javanese). Moreover, I am such a spoiled kid and she was a tough warrior, she had been a single mother since my dad in Junior High and had seen how tough life could be. No wonder I couldn’t understand her. Even so, I really respected and admired her.

On her good days, we would argue, in a way that I’d behave uncouthly and she’d scold me good. But when she no longer had the strength to scold me, when she lied powerless with tubes running up and down her body, I’d be so happy to hear her yell at me. It was so heartbreaking to see someone who was once so feisty became so helpless.

But one time, when she was conscious enough and she remembered me, she held her fist towards me (she could not speak due to tubes through her throat, it was her way to tell me that I am naughty), I laughed so hard. It was so funny. But, it only lasted for a while. After that, she’d mostly be in somnolent state. I think that was the last memorable moment I remembered of her. Even the last time I saw her, she didn’t even open her eyes.

But, remembering how she was so powerless and in pain, making me feel that it’s better for her this way. She doesn’t have to go through that torture again. She slept beautifully, her skin was firm and clean, she looked like sleeping in peace. There is a belief that, when your corpse is in good condition, it means that you have lived a good life. I know that’s just for our consolation, we never know what really happens over there. But still, remembering her last peaceful state made us relieved, believe that she’s in good Hands now.

On the funeral day, I cried buckets! (Well, I’m a cry baby. I cry like every time.) However, her children, my aunts, uncle and father seemed so strong (except for the youngest, she was the most crushed.) they seemed so casual about it. I remember a scene from Korean Drama Reply 1988, when the main character – Duk-seon’s grandma died and in the funeral her father was so casual and acted like it was just one of family gathering. Duk-seon asked her sister, “seriously, their mother died and they are just… like that?” and her sister replied, “that’s what adults do.” But then, when her oldest uncle came, all the children were breaking in tears and cried, “Omma! Omma![2]

But my family wasn’t like that. They didn’t break that way. They’ve let go long before my gardma was actually gone. They realized that sooner or later their mother will be taken away. It was when my grandma was in home care that one of family spiritual teacher came to visit. He had been visiting a few times before, too. He gathered all the 5 children and announced that he met my grandma in his dream and my grandma said that she has been with my grandpa (My grandpa died decades ago), and all the sickness was a way to redeem her sins and she asked her children to be patient.

But still, parting is hurt. No one is ever ready for parting. I have never seen my dad shed a tear before in my life. He didn’t on my grandma funeral, either. But, when he delivered his speech on the graveyard, in front of the fresh tomb of her, he quivered. Poor, daddy. He was just being an adult, I guess. Maybe I should try that, too. (Being an adult, I mean.)

I remember an episode on Friends, The One Where Nana Dies. It showed up on my Youtube recommendation because I watch Friends’ clips a lot on Youtube. The clip was when Ross and Monica’s grandma died and their mother and aunt preparing Nana’s clothes for the funeral. Ross was there to help finding any dresses she owned in her tiny and packed closet. His mom and aunt still couldn’t decide on what to dress her that they asked Ross to keep looking for the right shoes. Instead of shoes, he found stolen condiments (Sweet and Low’s if anyone familiar with it) in one of the shoebox, lots and lots of it, he was surprised. “Is everything alright, dear?” his mom asked and he said, “yeah, it’s just Nana’s stuff.” Then he reached for the top shelf and got a hold on something when suddenly it rained condiments. Things that his Nana loved; stealing condiments. That was so cute.

That remind me to the 7th tahlil day (Quran recital for the departed), when we served snack for the mass. One of the snacks is a mini Silver Queen chunky chocolate bar and candies. That’s one of the things that my grandma likes, giving that specific mini Silver Queen chunky chocolate bar and candies to grandkids (or other small children). Whenever she had them, she would hide it so that no one would steal it and give it to kids. Even after I’ve grown this big, she still liked to give me one as if I’m a kid. She’d say in baby voice, “do you want candies? I have candies, you know.” I think in her eyes, her grandchildren never grow up. It was only five months ago that she was first admitted to the hospital, but seeing the chocolate bars and candies in her tahlil day already made me feel nostalgic.

Farewell, Grandma. Have a nice journey. We’ll see you again, soon.


[1] People from West Sumatera. They are supposedly called Minang, but it is now commonly known as Padang since it’s the name of the capital city of West Sumatera.

[2] Means mom in Korean


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