When I was a toddler, Grandma had an unfortunate accident that resulted in her being forced to amputate one leg. After that accident, she asked Dad and Mom to move back to live with her in KL and so we all did.
When I was growing up, I had never known what she was like walking on both legs. I was just a little child when I saw her hopping along on her one good leg with the support of her crutches, being wheeled around on a wheelchair when we go out, sliding herself up and down the staircase and occasionally putting on an artificial limb when she felt like it. Yet, it never occurred to me that she looked strange nor that she's a handicap. I think this was because no one at home saw her as that. To us all, she was normal just like us.
It occurred to me much later when I was grown up that Grandma was a very strong woman. She never once got depressed over her loss and had always maintained a very positive outlook on life. She even joked about her immobility as a blessing because she doesn't need to tend to cooking and cleaning around the house. She had everything taken care of with the help of her children, and all she had was time to indulge in her favourite past times like watching Chinese opera on VCR, listening to music while sipping her Chinese tea, read the entire newspapers and taking naps whenever she wanted.
She and Grandpa loved being on the move. Grandpa rode on a motorbike and they would head out together to God knows where. On some days, they got home and showed some bruises because they had gotten into some accident. Their children would lecture them but it has never stopped them from further adventures. I think being out of the house was their way of spending quality time with each other.
Grandma loved Grandpa very much. In his much older days, Grandpa became a very silent man, hardly uttering a word to anyone. He ate very little and survived mainly on Guiness Stout only. While everyone at home thought feeding him bottles of beer everyday was not the best thing to do, Grandma always gave him what he wanted.
In the afternoons, Grandpa would lie on the 3-seater, with his beer mug on the coffee table out front, and sleep. Grandma's favourite chair would be right next to the 3-seater and she would be happy enough to watch him sleep and then fall asleep herself. Sometimes she would nag and grumble at him but the next minute she would be fussing over him to see that he's comfortable.
When Grandpa passed away, I remember the look in Grandma's eyes when she said to me "He's gone, just like that". Her eyes were full of tears and her voice was choked with pain. I just held her hands in mine and wept with her. I didn't know what else to say or do. Being the strong woman that she was, she took his death pretty well. Sometimes she would say to us that she misses him so dearly and that only affirms in me how much she had loved him for all that he was.
Ten years after Grandpa's death, Grandma fell ill. She was bedridden and the doctor told us it was time. We stayed by her on that very sad day. She was having difficulty breathing and we thought any minute would see her breathe her last. At one point, we were certain she was struggling with her final moment when she gasped badly for breath. We prayed for her while uncontrollable tears rolled down our faces. After some moments, her laboured breathing eased and she was tired. In that moment, she told us that she was "looking for Grandpa" but couldn't find him. And she said "Don't worry, I'll find him by 6pm and then I'll go. Help me find him by chanting". That was her last wish and we did what she wanted.
True enough, about half past 6pm, Grandma passed away peacefully. I want to believe that Grandpa was with her when she left us. I want to believe that she's happy now that she is with Grandpa again. I want to believe that she's proud of us all and that her soul will be with us for every special occasion we celebrate in the family.