For the Family

Grateful for Grandma

My kids made clay pandas and a Chinese lantern as she’s cherished their cute creations in the past.

My Po Po passed peacefully at 8am, February 11, 2021. One day before Chinese New Year.

Mom said that she was even thoughtful about when to die. In Chinese superstition, you should not have a joyous family event the same year as death. By passing away on the day she did, my cousin can be married in the coming lunar year. Though I often shrug off superstitions, I appreciated that this highlighted just how thoughtful my grandma was.

Her passing was not sudden or unexpected, but her health declined sharply after an emergency room visit when she couldn’t breathe well. Thankfully, it was not COVID-19, but she wasn’t able to exhale sufficient amounts of CO2. She stayed in the hospital for over a week before being transferred to a rehabilitation center.

I thought one recent text message indicated that she was on the mend. However, I had misinterpreted my mom’s text for improvement when she actually meant that the end was near.

I’m touched that my family spares no expense for each other. All of my grandma’s kids flew in to have one last chance with her. It’s frustrating that COVID-19 has made this a potential dangerous endeavor. My biggest hope is that everyone will be safe from the virus as they gather to grieve and celebrate her life.

Each family member got an opportunity, two at a time, to go to her room after her passing, and say goodbye. Jack and I went in together after they checked us in.

We both didn’t go in to say goodbye, but to say “thank you.” My grandparents led their family out of their homeland China, to forge a new life in a foreign land. We have flourished here not because of our own merits, but because of the generosity and kindness of many family and friends. However, as I’ve learned from the stories of my grandma over the last few years, the generosity and kindness is deeply woven into our family’s reputation and culture.

That is a gift of a lifetime and will bless all the generations to come.

In my last visit with my grandma while she was conscious, she repeated a gesture that I’ve understood to mean as “I love you.” I happily mirrored it back to her through the window of the rehab center.

Photo by Holly Lim

Thumbs up to you too, grandma. We love you.