Saturday, January 03, 2015

My last lesson with Granny / 和阿嬤的最後一堂課

圖摘自游爲淳「小香與大樹」/ image from "Tammy and the Big Tree" by Weichuen You


At six a.m. on the second day of 2015, the telephone rang. Though I was not awake, I guessed it was the call to inform us of Granny's departure. We dressed in a hurry, but Granny had already been gone by the time we left the apartment. When we arrived at the ward, Granny lay there looking ready to go. Without the intravenous drip and nasogastric tube, she simply looked like a little girl with her caramel knit hat on, but too tired to wake up. I caressed her face and hands several times, the latter still warm. Everything felt so real and unreal at the same time. 


     Over the past six months, Granny went in and out of the hospital several times. She had such an aura that I never felt that being sick or dying is ugly. Her death is consistently warm and elegant. Bidding goodbye to Granny, we said thank-you to Meili, whose eyes had been red and swollen with tears in the past few days as well. Having been with Granny for nine and half years, she actually knows much more about Granny than any of us. She replied, "I had a good time taking care of her." Later she showed me some recent photos of Granny and their selfie. They were taken after Granny's shower. Her eyes were closed most of the time, but in the selfie, Meili still smiled happily. It's the healthy and beautiful Granny that I remember; however, Meili sees the good and bad days of Granny. It feels like even the sick Granny is still beautiful for her. 


     One and half months ago, I started the ritual of taking the train to visit Granny alone. I wanted to spend some time alone with her. Most of the time we are trapped by the trifles in our everyday lives, believing that we can't spare any time to learn about aging and death until it is our turn. Nevertheless, I found it was all too late when I began. That is why I felt very sentimental about Granny's change over the past few months; that is because I forget to look at the previous 89.5 years of light. While we were busy with this and that, Meili and Granny had so many stories together. There was a kind of intimacy and dependence that Granny and I didn't have. I can't help feeling envious and jealous. 


     On my way home from the hospital, I went on a self-healing bus ride. I hadn't shed tears like this for many years. As I passed by the department stores in Xin-yi District, the boutiques were still sleeping. I imagined Granny sitting next to me on her first city tour after the liberation. I wondered if she still prefers the simple town of Chi-du to the luxurious Taipei city?

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