Celebrating nine decades with granny

I have stumbled upon many quotes on life – many mesmerizing at the fact that life is too short to waste, musings of a beautiful life and reflections of how unexpected life’s journey can unfold. And I have recently pondered on thought of aging gracefully even as we celebrated my grandmother’s 90th birthday.

What a privilege and blessing it is to live ninety decades of life to witnesses marriages, births, graduations, celebrations, umpteen birthdays and a throng of other family gatherings. And on hindsight, this privilege is also tainted with bitter sweet memories played out at funerals, farewells and hardship.

Grandma whom I fondly call ‘Mama’ has played a significant role in my life – sowing seeds of endurance, perseverance, passion and love since I was a little girl. She vividly remembers the nightmarish days of World War 2 when she was working as a midwife travelling from village to village delivering babies. She recounts the ghoulish escape routes she took in order to stay clear of Japanese invaders. That day of sheer determination and passion in carrying out her mission as a midwife gives me the drive to live for what I believe in.

She grimly speaks of how poverty nearly robbed her of her dream to study – but a miracle happened when someone sponsored her to continue her studies in midwifery. As a child, her pursuit for knowledge gave me the rise to never stop attaining knowledge, even if I had it much easier these days (with extra to spare, google university at my finger tips and a sea of books to choose from).

Above all, it was Mama’s generosity that touched my heart the most. In her adulthood, she married my grandfather – ‘Yeh Yeh’ who was a principal of a school. They got along pretty well and soon earned a little more to afford a helper in the house to help with the children. Mama never mistreated the helpers, instead most of them ended up working with her for more than 10 years.

During family gatherings as a child, I would be introduced to aunty so-and-so and uncle so-and-so. When asked how we are related to them, my parents would often sit me down for a story or two about how Mama used to take in poor neighbours and friends and raised them up by helping with their school fees, medical bills and basic supplies. And that’s how we are related – Mama made them part of her family… our family.

How at 90 years old, she’s unable to walk due to a fall about a year and a half ago, her memory is fading and she is a lot less active. A year and a half ago, I was worried we might lose her – but she braved through another operation at 89! Such a fighter… Her eyes still lights up whenever I visit her at my parents’ home. She eagerly waits for our weekly visits and constantly asks when our next visits will be.

Her greatest strength has been God and her daily conversations with Him. Prayer her lifeline and it has been our family’s lifeline too… Through prayer she has sown eternal gifts that no money or wealth can buy. Through prayer, she has built a foundation in our home that’s unshakable and unmovable.

Photos taken by Joshua Chan

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