Remembering Popo

I wrote this post originally in 2010 and don't recall if I ever published it. I'm putting it up here on my blog as a reminder of her and her impact on my life BUT also to recollect a time when I used to write without photographs. It also serves as a personal reminder for me that there are bigger things in life than all the minutiae and Angry Bird high scores and other distractions in our lives. Sometimes we just have to sit, reflect and be still… and write.

Not too long after I wrote this post, my Popo (Chinese for “Grandma”) passed on. It’s been quite a while since her passing but every now and then a photo of her pops up in my Facebook feed and I recollect some of the moments I had with her.

My car rumbled to a stop. Turning the key towards me, I promptly yanked it out of the key hole. I opened the driver side door, stepped out of the car, and felt the rain drops instantly. 

Looking to my left, I saw my destination only a few meters away from me. After work, I would normally either take the bus home, or get into my car in the train's car park lot, and promptly drive myself home. Today was different, though. I had putting it off for a while, but it finally came to the point where I knew that was my chance to do it.

I entered through the sliding doors and into the warm building. Old folks' homes always smell a little different than any other place.

I found my grandma walking back to her room after eating dinner. It had been a long time since we had sat down and talked. As she walked to her room, I showed her my work attire.

"I have to wear this to work everyday, Popo," I said, showing her my shirt, tie and dress pants.

It was usual for us to talk about many things. I would recall to my grandma the good old days when she would cook instant noodles a special way (which I have yet to replicate!), or when I found out about the joys of eating handfuls of dried apricots at a time. I talked briefly about my working life, and how it was very different and very time-consuming, yet very maturing. And of course, she brought up the topic of getting married and finding a good wife!

Then I brought up about how one day she'd be able to see great grand kids from me. Suddenly, she said "I don't think I will be alive then."

At that moment, my heart sunk.

"I know that my health is failing. I am sick, and my heart is 23 years old." 23 years previous, my grandma had major heart surgery. She went on explaining about how her health was deteriorating, and how she realized it herself. I don't remember exactly what was said as a flurry of thoughts were swirling in my head at that moment.

My response to this sudden change of mood was to lighten up with a joke: "Haha, I think you'll live until you're 200 years old, Popo." Deep down inside though, reality was setting in.

I soon left giving my grandma a hug. I walked out of the retirement home thinking more broadly about life; about how singleness and dating are only a portion of what are lives are for, about how futile some things are in our lives. 

I opened my car door and sat down in the driver's seat. With a turn of a key, the car rumbled to life. With my left foot, I pushed in the clutch, shifted into first gear with my right hand, and drove off.