Married to my Grandpa when she was 16, she suffered a lot when she was young. My Grandpa was 13 years her senior & was from a wealthy family. Our ancestors were officials in ancient China. Our huge ancestral house is still standing in Swatow.
My Grandpa came to Singapore when his wealth was seized from him. He was a tailor. He died just after I was born. My Grandma planted flowers on her plot of land & she would carry the cut flowers in two pails & sell them throughout the streets of ang sa li (old name of Serangoon Gardens) .
Every time I see her favourite food, I cry. When I hear Teochew opera, I cry. She's the one who brought me along to watch these operas when I was young. I was a good little girl then, I could sit quietly for hours. Often after the opera, she would buy me mochi as reward. These memories brought so much pain in my heart now.
We were not that close when I was growing up. She had 19 grandchildren. My Dad was her youngest child. My younger brother Meng was her favourite grandson. She spoilt him rotten.
Only when I was pregnant, did we grow closer. I had terrible morning sickness when I was carrying Jaymes. I threw up everything I ate & drank, including water. I was seriously dehydrated & had to be hospitalised so as to be put on a drip.
My 90-plus Grandma visited me in the hospital. I was so surprised because she seldom left her home. She comforted me & advised me on the food to eat.
Two days after I was discharged, I was feeling so sick that I opened a can of pineapples & ate it, hoping to abort the baby! My grandma, who happened to visit, snatched the pineapples from me & threw it down the rubbish chute! She scolded me for being so reckless.
The day Jaymes was born, she came to visit us at the hospital. She was so excited. She already had more than 20 great-grandchildren then! I don't know why she was so happy.
I stayed with my parents after giving birth because my Mom wanted to take care of me. My grandma came to stay for a week. She adored Jaymes, and he grew to be her favourite great-grandson.
Grandma with baby Jaymes, who was only 11 days old!
I would bring baby Jaymes to visit her twice a month. Or she would come to visit at my parents' place. When Jaymes started going to Nursery, I couldn't visit her as often. Soon my visits became once every few months.
I remembered very vividly the last time I visited her with Jaymes. She sent us to the door & as we were going down the stairs, she called out,"Come & visit me whenever you have time." These words have been haunting me after her death.
I felt so guilty. Even when I had the time to visit her then, I would prefer to bring Jaymes shopping. I thought then, I had all the time in the world to visit her.
Now I would never be able to visit her except her grave.......
She had been a smoker for more than 30 years & she ate pickled vegetables daily, amazingly she had no major illness & died of old age at 97 . She's one tough cookie.