When I spent time with Grandma
My Grandma, was born in 1925 and named Tumini. But when it was time to register her name, apparently they registered her only as Mini. The year she was born could have been a mistake too because according to my granduncle, they were born in the same year, 1923. Of course, we cannot verify that fact.
I’ve always taken her for granted. I guess most of us do. Our grandparents exist around us just because. Some of us didn’t even take the initiative to get to know them. Who are they really? How were they like during their childhood, teenage and adulthood years?
So earlier today, I had the chance to be alone with her. I decided to take her down for a stroll. Grandma hasn’t been quite strong to walk a distance, and has been quite dependent on the wheelchair for a long “walk”.
I pushed her to the nearby Esso to get her some madelines, which when she asked I had to say they are baulu orang puteh, and a Magnum ice-cream for myself. We then stopped and sat at the block just next to Esso where she began eating the madelines. I thought, maybe I should try asking her a question I’ve once asked her before. Just to hear her tell the story again.
Grandma has this protruding line on her nail of her left thumb. Years ago, I asked her about it and she told me it happened when she was a teenager. She was cutting a coconut open when it happened. She sliced her thumb and her nail was almost cut off. When it healed, the line was there.
Today, when I asked her, she said she don’t remember at all. She only remember she had injured herself somehow.
You see, Grandma has Alzheimer.
I tried my luck to ask if she remembered what it was like during the Japanese Occupation. Like I said, I tried my luck. She don’t remember anything at all.
It was too late to find out alot from her. But the memories of her when she was the strong able-bodied Grandma is still fresh in my mind. I remember her as the lady who took care of us when our parents were still at work and school was done for the day. She cooked for us and fed us with her hands.
There were 5 of us, myself with 2 of my elder sisters, along with my two eldest cousins. Grandma never failed to have us fed. And back in those days of the late 80s, Popeye was very much popular and it was easy to feed us vegetable, especially spinach. Grandma has always been soft spoken. It’s not easy for you to hear her raising her voice, even if she was angry, it’s not too often she raised her voice.
After this last photo was taken, I pushed her back slowly. She repeated the same things she said when I was pushing her to Esso, about the mango trees not having any mangoes. As I was enjoying my Magnum, I was beaming with joy; not because I finally got my Magnum ice-cream, but because I had spent time with Grandma. She might not remember we even went down together to Esso, or even the fact this photo was taken.
For me, it was good enough to know I took care of her today. It was my one-day of repaying her countless days taking care of me when I was still a child. I hope there are many other days like this I can still give to her in return.