Friday, September 14, 2007

Grandma's Death

As I've told you earlier, when I was four we moved to live with my grandma (Mom's mom) in a house that my mother bought for her. We moved there to make sure that she wouldn't live alone during her old age. Just like my mother, she still sold food at the traditional market until she could barely walk anymore.

My grandma had a bad temper. She fought with the fruit sellers or vegetable seller and she wouldn't mind yelling harsh words. She loved boys more than girls, so naturally she loved her sons and grandsons more than the daughters and the granddaughters. It's just a well-known fact. There were some precious moments, though, when my parents had barely enough money to cover our expenses and to buy our basic necessities, my grandma would buy a big bottle of Sprite every now and then and gave a cup to my brother and I. That small cup of Sprite was really such a HUGE treat for us, so we would sip it bit by bit (just like drinking wine) since every drop was SO precious for us. We would only get that treat from grandma!

Grandma had also some health problems. I don't know the English name, but the Indonesian name is "asam urat". Basically if she had too many nuts and some other specific kinds of food, then her leg muscles would be stiff and she would have problems walking. If it got worse, then one foot would get swollen and it would make it harder for her to walk. I must say that looking back, she was one VERY TOUGH lady. Even when she had trouble walking, she wouldn't give up walking around with the help of a stool that had the right size to be used as a four-legged cane. She kept on doing her activities with the help of this stool.

I was never really close to my grandma, so I didn't really feel the loss when she passed away. She got really sick for a whole month before God took her away, if I remember correctly. She stayed home and my parents decided to hire a nurse to help take care of her since my mother couldn't juggle work, kids, and taking care of grandma during the night. We had to change nurse a few times since they couldn't handle grandma's temper.

Remember that my mom sells food in the market, meaning she cooks all the food herself and she has to get up at around 3 or 4 am to warm up some of the food or cook them and then she goes to the market at around 5.30 or 6 am and she'll go back home at around 10-11 am. By then she has to prepare lunch already for the family. Busy, busy, busy.

Back to grandma...Before being bed-ridden, she fell down on the bathroom floor a few times, so in the end my Mom told her not to lock the bathroom door whenever she had to go there. Back then we didn't have a seating toilet, so only God knows how she managed to pee or poo by squatting down. Her arms must've been pretty strong to hoist herself up again with the help of the stool.

Anyway, I was around 16 years old during my grandma's last month. She became so frail as she got bed-ridden. We had to move her every now and then since it would hurt her if she stayed in one place for a long time. She peed and pooed in bed with the help of a potty. Her intestines couldn't digest her food anymore, though she could still eat. She also experienced prolapse of the uterus.

I watched her body shrink so fast during that month that it scared me. I could see her rib cage and pelvis CLEARLY through her skin. Her cheeks became so sunken and there was no more body fat, just skin covering the bones. It I can't find the word to describe it. It was just discomforting and I think in a way I was shocked since she used to be a very strong woman who would yell out to other people. A strong woman who still sold food even though her memory had started to fail her, and she was reduced to THAT frail
bed-ridden figure who was unable to distinguish what was real and what was unreal?

She had flashes of dead people surrounding her every now and then. She said she saw her dead sisters, but she didn't even realize that they were dead. She went in and out of "reality". She truly believed she saw them. Since she was a Catholic, so a Pastor came over to pray for her and to give her the last sacrament. A few other Christian colleagues and relatives visited her to pray with her. At first she refused to say, "Jesus, forgive all of my mistakes." She would stop right then and there and wouldn't follow the words of those people who tried to pray with her. She said to Mom that she saw a road, but the road was dark and she didn't know which way to go. She kept on saying this over and over and over again.

I don't remember anymore who finally managed to make her say those words, but at last she said those words, "Jesus, forgive all of my mistakes." And you know what? A day after that, she called my Mom and said, "Now the road's bright. I can see it clearly." And my Mom said to her, "Go on and follow the road. Don't worry about us. All your kids have gotten married and they're all well. So just go and don't worry about anything else." And true enough...not long after that, she took her last breath. I think it happened a few days afterwards.

I wasn't sad when she died. I felt that God had finally stopped her pains and given her the very comfort she needed most. I felt that she was freed from every suffering on earth. Upon reflecting all this, my Mom once said, "I never knew what a person experienced or saw during his or her last moments on earth. Now at least I know one version of it."

To my grandma, I'm glad now you're in a better place. :-)))) THANKS for having brought my Mom into this world. ;-D

P.S. Tomorrow I don't think I'll write due to the birthday party I mentioned in my earlier post, so see you later on Sunday or Monday! Have a BLESSED weekend, everybody, and stay healthy!!!! ;-D


  1. I think this was a very brave thing for you to write, Amel. It's hard to literally witness a loved one dying in front of your very eyes. One of my grandmothers died last year and I feel very fortunate to have the other still with us, although in frail health. It certainly does make you think about the circle of life.

  2. Paper Fan: THANKS. All of a sudden I remembered grandma and I felt compelled to write. Yes, it is tough to see our loved ones "deteriorate" physically. It makes us feel helpless, doesn't it? You're right about the circle of life.

  3. My grandmother like that as well. She liked her grandsons and especially the first grandson much more than grand daughters.

  4. This is a beautifully written post Amel. Best, F

  5. Amber: Your grandma was like that, too? Ahhh...

    Fish: Glad you enjoyed it! ;-D

  6. What a good post, Amel - it's a really pragmatic, intelligent way of looking at death and how it affects us in different ways - I really enjoyed reading your take on it all.

  7. Agnes: THANKS. Glad you enjoyed reading it. :-)))

  8. I'm been reading your blog :-)
    This is a good post. It reminds me of my grandma whom I loved very much.

    I saw how my grandma, once a strong and tall woman, shrank into a frail, tiny person when she passed away 3 years ago.

  9. Thank you for sharing such a personal memory with us. Your account of how turning to Jesus changed your grandma's outlook was very moving. Thank you!

    Every, Every Minute

  10. PTL!!!I am very happy for you that your Grandma excepted Christ into her life before it was to late. How exciting that you will see your Grandma in heaven some day.

    Have fun at the party!

    I'll be back to read more exciting stories about your life.


  11. Blur Ting: You saw your grandma experience a similar things? It must've been tougher on you since you loved her so much.

    Bob: Glad you enjoyed reading it. ;-D

    Lori: Yeah, I'm gonna see grandma in heaven indeed he he he...;-D

  12. That was such a great post.
    My fathers mom was just like your grandma.

  13. Frasy: there are similarities everywhere he he he...

  14. Hi Amel's Realm,
    You are discussing death and birthday party simultaneously.It is great.
    God bless.

  15. Thanks for coming by, loved your comments.

  16. Surjit: Yeah, both are just cycles of life. ;-D

    Katrina: UR welcome. ;-D GOOD LUCK selling your book!!!!!

  17. Dear amel, This is ver touching and also very brave of you to be so upfront and honest about your feelings. I went through something similar with my own mother. I watched her waste away in the six months of her life and she got cranky and difficult to get along with. It is a very hard thing for a family to face. You are truly a special person. My heart goes out to you that she treated you differently from the other grandchildren. Obviously this affected you or you not have written about it. Yet you have the memory of the Sprite and I a sure many more good memeries as well. Thanks for sharing such a wonderful and personal post.~Hugs, Jackie

  18. Shinade: Yeah, dealing with the last months of a family member who's sick IS hard. I think in a way I'm "blessed" that now I can't see my parents dwindling away before they die, but in another way I'm also SAD for not being able to be there for them...but anyway, my life's here now, so I just have to make the best of it. :-))))

  19. Wow, that was a powerful recall... Your description of your grandma on her deathbed really shocked me a bit.. Very vivid...

    Keep those memories, they are precious and something you can't get any other way :)

  20. Shan: Well, probably 'coz I was already 16 years old back then and my mother kept on remembering the memories, so everything sticks in my mind.