Sunday, July 26, 2009

Eulogy for Grandma

Enjoying the dry ice theatrics with dessert, at Taste Paradise, Sep 2006

My grandmother passed away on Tuesday at the age of 94, nearly three and a half years after her first serious fall that gave her a hip fracture, which was followed by a series of strokes. In the last year of her life, she was unable to move, to speak, or to eat except by a feeding tube, and had to breath assisted by an oxygen machine. Yet, we knew she was conscious and (somewhat) aware of her surroundings, for she invariably responded to me with a soft moan whenever I called her.

I was close to my grandmother, as she lived with my family several months each year, sharing the same bedroom as me. As a child, I would follow her around everywhere, and since the kitchen was where she spent much of her time cooking, it became one of my favourite hangouts to watch her and keep up an incessant stream of conversation. She made the bestest soon kueh - a kind of dumpling with thin translucent skin made of rice and glutinous rice flour, stuffed with shredded turnip, diced bamboo shoots, dried shrimp, mushroom and pork. I became extremely adept at shaping and making the soon kueh as it was in such high demand among my uncles and aunts and their families, that grandma, my mum and I had to churn out a couple of hundred soon kueh every couple of months. It was from my grandmother, that my love for food first started. Never compromising on the quality of the raw ingredients, never taking any shortcuts no matter how many steps or how tedious the process was, driven by her love for us, she uncomplainedly cooked whatever her grandchildren requested to eat.

Our sadness at her passing was accompanied by the relief that she had finally been released from whatever suffering that she had to go through in the last years of her life. For the most part, she lived a good life, bringing up 7 children, and had many grandchildren and great children. She lived to see me get married to E, and enjoyed many good family meals with us, a source of great joy and happiness to her. So we have no regrets, except to accept that it was time for her to go and join my grandpa. So good bye, my beloved ma-ma.

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