Last Monday, around midday, my mom, sister, niece, nephew and I went to a familiar place. I haven’t been there for more than a decade and it seems that our cousins’ home has changed a lot. The then cluttered house has spruced up well, imbibing a minimalist touch. An array of tennis trophies were neatly displayed on a narrow wall-mounted deck adjacent to the ceiling. The cumbersome piece of wooden divider which used to house an accumulation of unsorted items was no longer in sight. The dining area was all spick-and-span, with a dozen of condiments all lined up on the sturdy cupboard perpendicular to the wall. The TV set has acquired a new home, too, which at its center features a neatly framed photograph of the family, all smiles.
However, the biggest change has yet to be mentioned: the bulky couch upholstered in green leatherette was replaced with a sofa bed covered in clean sheets. For years after she had a stroke, grandma has assumed that spot. It was the first time I had visited her, after finally mustering enough courage to face the unexpected. I immediately caught a glimpse of her heart-wrenching condition as I opened the wooden door. She was unrecognizable with her physique akin to an anorexia nervosa patient, and in her nose is a nasogastric tube for feeding with ozterized food. With teary eyes, I clung to her fragile body as soon as she realized who I am. She stared at me for a moment, touched my face, and started crying. I started crying. I whispered “I love you lola” in her right ear and we cried again. According to the care giver, crying is not good for her but I just had to let her know.
It was a day far from being mundane. It was one of those days I realize how temporary our life is, and how blessed we are to live. In that moment, I wish I could do something more than just bring a cluster of fruit or a small amount of money for her maintenance medication. I just continued weeping while clasping her thinning arms. After an hour or so, it was time for her afternoon nap, and it was time for us to go. I didn’t want to leave her, not until she has fallen asleep. So I hugged her one last time, and made her a promise that I will be back to get her rusty wheelchair fixed.
Photo: My mom and grandma