婆婆.

I have yet to write more than my minimum quota of one poem and one piece per week, but it seems like this week is going to be an exception.  For those of you who don’t read Chinese, I’m sorry, but it’s basically what I call my grandma.

With the blur of college set before me, exiting the void was just as difficult as entering.  Coming home, I was aware of various situations: my mom’s possible displeasure with something I wasn’t sure about, the fact that my parents only created the facade of approval of me buying my bike, and my grandma’s physical health was on the decline.  The former two situations were quickly alleviated with simple gestures and plain honesty, but I was totally oblivious to the severity of my grandma’s situation.  It wasn’t until I saw her tonight that my heart sank.

Whether it was to shield me from the cruelty of death, I guess I was misled by the fact that my dad said she was doing okay in the hospital.  Whatever actually happened, the reality of it is this: I am beginning to reminisce on times long past spent with my grandma.  She was the one who acted as a babysitter if my parents were gone away at work and she would cook good food, like 蔥油餅, for me and the rest of the family.  She showed hospitality and warmth to people that would come over, no matter if they were regular visitors or new friends; the same cheerful smile would appear and her classic chuckle sounded every now and then.  She showed me how incredible love can be when the church celebrated her sixtieth anniversary with my grandpa.  She would laugh and call me fat and chubby, which made me cry or get mad at the time, but now I understand that they were terms of endearment from her point of view.  She showered so much love in so many different ways on me that I can’t fully express them all, nor have I even fully understood them all.

And it is this love that I failed to reciprocate later on in life.  When I reached the teenage years, no longer would I give her innocent kisses on the cheek or run and hug her when I saw her.  I wouldn’t sit near her and listen to her stories nor would I even ask how she was doing and inquire about her health.  I would shout a quick 婆婆好 (Hi Grandma) and that was pretty much all that became of my relationship with her in my teen years.  I really did not show her any of the love that she deserved, perhaps even expected to see, and I can only imagine how that must have disappointed her.  Now, a day late and a dollar short, the full appreciation of all that this sweet, loving woman has done for me has begun to spring forth, and at such a desperate time.

If I feel nothing in my heart, it’s because I’m just following the trend of seeing my grandpa passing away.  I stayed in denial until I saw my grandpa resting, and that’s when the tears came pouring forth.  I couldn’t even bear to say very many words at his funeral.  Right now, I’m hoping beyond human hope that my grandma will be okay, that she’ll somehow get through this ordeal in better health, that I’ll get another chance to treat her properly.  It frightens me that I’m on the brink of losing both of my maternal grandparents before I even become self-sufficient.  I always had hopes that maybe one of them could see my son or daughter, but the way things are right now, I’m going to need to hope against hope that this turns around quickly.  I don’t even know why it’s so important for me to have her see my children, but it is.  She was such a strong woman with a big heart; seeing her cry at my grandpa’s funeral was something I can’t forget – I feel like she deserves to see the next generation before moving onwards.

It’s a sorry condition of human empathy that causes it to swell when tragedy is at hand, but it’s definitely true for me.  Grandma, you’ve done so much good for the people you’ve cared about, and now I realize that it wasn’t by my own “poetic heart” that I learned love, but it was from watching you love those around you.  If God wants you to leave us, then there’s nothing I can do that will keep you here, nor do I want to keep you here if He’s calling.  But I would like one more chance to say what I should’ve said everyday that I saw you: 婆婆,我愛妳。

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