She might be small in size, however, don’t ever underestimate her. She was a fierce and commanding figure, the head of the extended family for 36 years since her husband’s passing in 1980. Her awareness of situations and meticulous to details, numbers and things gave her a reputation of – don’t try to pull any tricks or cheat me. Growing vegetables at the side of her home, tending to her ducks and hens in her backyard, climbing up the starfruit tree in her front porch to pluck fruits. She was full of life, energy and zest till doing all the above things until she was in her 70s to 80s.
Having to take charge of the family, she was fierce and protective at times because she loved her children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and a great great grandchild. Being the eldest grandson of the family probably has its perks, extra pressure and responsibilities. I do get quite a lot of nagging and scoldings from her, all in the name of love, care and concern for me.
I remembered an incident very clearly when I was a young kid, probably during my early primary school school days. I was back home in Malaysia, celebrating Chinese New Year festival. I was running around and playing in the village, I encountered a wild dog bigger in size than me, barking and chasing me. Since I was just a small young boy, I got scared, turned and ran back to my grandmother’s home, I dropped a slipper behind. My grandmother asked me what happened, I replied that a wild dog chased me at the corner of the road down from the house. She held my hand, walked with me to the place where I encountered the wild dog. She chased and scolded the wild dog with my other slipper, helping me to retrieve my other half of my slipper back. That’s my grandmother in action!
Her travel wanderlust was just as amazing and inspiring, traveling to many different countries. In the village, she would probably be one of the most well traveled seniors! I have yet to match her travel feats at this point in time! She traveled down regularly to visit my family in Singapore during my childhood and teenage years.
My paternal grandmother was an amazing role model, I think I got some of her traits from her – hardworking, not giving up, travel wanderlust and very meticulous.
At her 90th birthday celebrations, I still had many fond memories of her big birthday bash and those photographs will be wonderful memories for the entire extended family when they all came together to celebrate a milestone for her.
As she started to age over the past few years since entering into the 90s age band, old age and deterioration of the body was inevitable, every human being will face it some day in the future. Her movement became slower and she required walking aid. Yet, she was also very amazing, still being alert of her surroundings and people when she was in her 90s.
She was planning to celebrate her 100th birthday in the month of May 2017. Sometimes, things in life don’t go as planned like we all want it to be. She passed away peacefully on 20th November 2016 at a ripe old age of 99. I was very shocked, not expecting it to happen even though I was pre-empt by my parents a few weeks ago to be ready in case it happens. I had it really hard because I attended my university junior funeral wake on the night of 19th November 2016, she was just 36 years old. Their passing, were like “back to back”, this was a double blow that shook me really hard and to be honest, I was lost for three weeks – pain, shock, agony and sadness penetrated inside me heart, mind and soul, you can read all of them here.
I did not visit my Grandmother as often as I should and could, over the past few years. I would like to confess that I am very sad and disappointed that I did not get to see her alive for one last time before she left us. I was still having hopes that I can do something special for you on your 100th birthday celebration in 2017 with my photography and story telling. This is not going to take place at this point in time and I am planning of another photography channel to remember and honour your life.
During her funeral, it only dawned upon me on my role and status in the extended family since I was the eldest grandson in the family. I had to perform some of the rituals along side with my dad and uncle.
Reaching a ripe old age of 99, she’s the big mother of the extended family of five generations under her. That’s another remarkable feat that not many people can meet up to. She led a good life with a big extended network of descendants under her, guided and taught by her authority, teachings and lessons. She may not have live a life of rich and wealth during her life time, she definitely live a great and good life with many filial descendants of good upbringing and teachings.
Our dear matriarch is now watching all over us from the sky above, taking care and blessing us, just like before, nothing much has changed. I have a personal photography project (on my grandmother and the 5 generations under her) in my mind that I hope that I can produce and show it to you when the time is ripe. This will be a testimonial and tribute to your matriarch status as well a legacy for the current and future generations to remember you.
Goodbye and farewell to my beloved Grandmother, I will always remember you in my heart. Yes, I do miss your scoldings and nagging on me.