m a r k a n d e y a

Archive for November 23rd, 2004

Saying Goodbye…

Posted by Brian on November 23, 2004

“Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak whispers the o’er-fraught heart and bids it break.”  William Shakespeare

I received an e-mail today that I’ve been dreading for a few years now… notice from my family that my grandmother passed away.

She died last weekend, I’m told, and my grandfather decided to have a simple ceremony a few days later so I wasn’t able to attend her funeral as I had been preparing myself to do. She had been quite ill for almost a year or so, and a few months back my grandfather decided to move her into a nursing home so she could get full-time nursing care. Alzheimers was also setting in, making it even tougher for my grandfather to deal with. Over the past few months, she lost a lot of weight, and when she caught pneumonia roughly 10 days ago, my mother tells me she simply stopped fighting for her life. My grandfather decided to take her off life support and told the nurse to give her medicine for her pain. She died on November 14, in the evening.

Despite the grief, I’m happy to be able to say that my parents (she was my grandmother on my mother’s side) and my brother and his wife were able to make it down to LA in time to say goodbye. My grandfather, her husband of over 50 years, was also dedicated to her till the end. She died with loved ones nearby… we all should be so lucky.

I saw her last in Los Angeles last year in September when my girlfriend and I flew down there so she could do some more traveling in America before returning to Korea. I’m trying to remember the things we did with my grandmother while we were there and two things come timd: lunch at some family restaurant in Pasadena (I complained about the huge salad) and a few hours spent at my grandparent’s condo talking and showing pictures to my grilfriend. Saying goodbye that day, I was well aware that it might be the last time I ever saw her. It was.

I learned a lot about my grandmother that day… my grandfather showed us a collection of old pictures and newspaper articles about my grandmother that he had saved. Apparently my grandmother, at one of her first jobs, did such a great job at her office that the small, local paper carried an article on her success (with a picture even).

But despite what I learned that day, I still didn’t know much about my grandmother. But, in a way, that that taught me so much about her. As a kid, and even now, I always enjoyed listening to my grandfather talk about his life back in Scotland and about his experiences in WW2. I asked him a lot of questions, but I didn’t ask many to my grandmother. But looking back, she never seemed to mind. I guess she was just so happy to see me so inquisitive about history, about my grandfather’s life, that she didn’t mind. Or maybe she thought her life was a bit mundane compared to my grandfather’s globe-trotting adventures as a RAF mechanic. I remember calling their house from time to time and my grandmother, if she was the one who answered the phone, would quickly pass the phone off to my grandfather. I didn’t complain, but sometimes I wondered why she was so quick to get my grandfather on the line. You know, grandma, I would not have minded talking to you a bit longer. Looking back, I think she was satisfied with being a traditional wife who supported her husband in the background. She was happy enough just to see my Grandfather and I bond.

Not being religious, I can’t rely on the old bromides that help people get through their grief. Is she in a better place? Well, I like to hope so, but I really have no idea. I’m trying to take some comfort in her long life and all the great people she helped bring into the world. I suppose that will have to do.

Grandma, thank you. Thank you for raising such a great woman, my Mom, who did such a fine job bringing me up. I’ve been blessed with great parents, and your parenting and wisdom in letting your daughter marry my father, despite their youth and my dad’s less-than-perfect family background, is a gift I’ll cherish throughout my life. Your marriage to my grandfather, all 50+ years of it, sets a sterling example to me about marriage the way it is supposed to be: till death do us part. Thank you for helping my mother raise me right, thank you for always having some cookies or cake on hand whenever I dropped by your house with no warning back when I was a kid, and thank you for supporting me no matter what decisions I made in my life.

I’m sorry I wasn’t there one last time to say goodbye, or to support Grandpa as he struggled to help you. I’m sorry that while living in Korea all this time I didn’t call you or send you letters as often as I should have. I’m sorry.

I promise you that I will do my best to help Grandpa live the rest of his days in comfort and with companionship. He did as much for you, so it’s what I will do for him.

I’ll never forget you, Grandma, sleep well. I love you…


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