Ode to my grandparents

To the man who drove us to and fro from kindergarten every day.

To the woman who cooked mushy porridge I hated and who would have to run after me with a bowl and spoon every meal.

To the man who loved Manchester United and watched every game until his death.

To the woman whose way of showing love was by asking if we had eaten.

To the man who pat me to sleep at night.

To the woman who sewed our pajamas and pillow cases.

To the man who played mahjong every Sunday and cussed like a sailor when he was losing.

To the woman who cooked up a storm of our favorite dishes whenever we went back to Penang.

To the man who walked down the street to buy me koay teow th’ng.

To the man who recorded all the 5.30 pm cartoons on video so we could rewatch them over and over.

To the woman who had to sit behind in the backseat between my brother and my cousin just so they wouldn’t fight.

To the man who loved all technology German (I never found out why) and kept a pristine Volkswagen Beetle with no aircon inside but a tiny fan on the ceiling, which he’d drive himself and his wife to the market in.

To the woman who spoke no other language besides Cantonese so we had trouble communicating.  To the woman whom this did not faze – she prattled on to us regardless.  Always asking us if we had eaten, if we wanted drinks, more coffee, anything she could give.

To the man whom my brother and I were so afraid of losing to his smoking habit, we made picket signs and staged a No Smoking protest.  We replaced his cigarettes with candy, not knowing he was diabetic wtf.

To the woman who spoke the loudest in Hakka whenever she was talking on the phone to her relatives.

To the man who made up the most elaborate stories to tell us.  And they all invariably involved poop or fart jokes for some reason.

To the man and woman we served tea to every Chinese New Year.

To the man who had such a big heart helped anyone he could, and as a result, was mourned widely at his funeral.

To the man and woman who took care of me and my brother on weekdays, bathing, feeding, clothing us, sending us to school, while our parents worked in KL.

To the man and woman who picked us up on the weekend to give the other grandparents a break, who took care of us each weekend and let us play to our hearts content.

To the man who had a heart attack at home when we were in Thailand for a holiday.  We never got to see him before he went.  He had quit smoking but it was too little, too late.

To the woman who cried for two years after his death.

To the woman who fell down and then developed dementia.  From slowly forgetting our names and faces, she started to forget how to do things for herself.

To the man who would get irritated at his wife’s deteriorating memory but agonized when she was hospitalized.

To the woman who, despite having dementia, when she knew her husband was coming home from the hospital, asked for a comb and a mirror so she could beautify herself before he saw her.

To the man who as soon as he was able, asked to go home from the hospital because he wanted to see his wife.

To the woman who said she would be happy when she passed because she would meet her husband again.

To the man and woman who still held hands after 70 years of marriage.

To the men and women who raised their families to the best of their abilities despite poverty and strife.

To the woman who said her only wish was to see me graduate, and then she could go in peace.  When I graduated, she said her only wish was to see me get married. When I got married, she said her only wish was to see the birth of my first child.  Now I have two and she has gone.

The last of my grandparents – my paternal grandmother, Mama – passed away last week.

This post is in memory of my four grandparents.  Not to think about their deaths but to reflect on the impact of their lives.  They weren’t famous or extraordinary, but to us, they were great people who left behind a legacy.

My grandfather on my mom’s side.  We called him Ah Kong.

And this was his wife, my grandmother.  We called her Por Por.

This is my dad’s mother who passed away last week.  We called her Mama.

In the center is my dad’s father.  We called him Yeh Yeh.  Not many photos of him because he died before social media was invented wtf. (Guess which one I am!)

My Ah Kong at our wedding.

Mama during one of our family gatherings.

Mama during our ROM.  (She permed her hair for the occasion)

Ah Kong and Por Por.  They had just reunited after Ah Kong spent five days in the hospital.

Shortly before Ah Kong passed away.



This photo was taken 26 years ago!  At my aunt’s wedding.  I was four and Ooib chose the wrong time to scratch his balls. *shifty eyed

Rest in peace, Ah Kong, Por Por, Mama and Yeh Yeh.  You will not be forgotten.

Comments (9)

  • Omg teary moment. Your post made me realize how much time left we should start to appreciate and spend more time with our grandparents before they’re gone. My deepest condolences to you and family Audrey!

  • Today is the 100th day of Mak passing and tomorrow will be the 40th day of Popo passing. Exactly 2 months differents. Mak was my neighbour so I grew up being close to her. I was with her during her last hour and it’s something I will never forget. I wanted to visit Popo but I decided to wait until the 100th day because I got busy with Mom who herself isn’t well. Never would I imagine that strong Popo would fall down. i wish I had gone visited her right away when I had the urge to visit her.

    I honestly feel numb. I can’t stop and reflect the past because I feel it would make me crazy. I feel so sad when I see other old ladies.

  • My deepest condolences to you and your family. Our grandparents will always hold a special place in our hearts. We really must cherish our loved ones and spend as much time as we can with them. Your post reminded me of how much I miss my own paternal grandma whom I grew up with.

  • This is such a beautiful post. Remembering your grandparents through the little but significant things they did for you, through the sweet (and maybe not so) memories you all shared. I hope that I’d be able to do something similar for my grandparents in the near future, just for memory’s sake. Really love this post! :’)

  • This is very beautiful post. I teared! T____T

  • I love this post, audrey! Both my paternal and maternal grandparents played a big role in my life too. And your post reminded me on all the things and sacrifices they made for me. :’)

  • Thank you 🙂

  • Thank you 🙂

  • Aww… Hugs audrey!

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