My paternal grandmother passed away two days ago. While her health has been declining for the past few years, and she was in critical condition with pneumonia for the past few weeks, it was still a shock to learn of her death. It’s like when you can see the fist coming toward you but it’s still a jarring and painful blow when it is delivered.
This is not the first time someone I knew died, but it is the first time losing someone who is so dear to me. I’ve known only two of my grandparents and she was by far the closest to me. She was a substitute parent to me when I was growing up. She and my uncle took me to the United States from Hong Kong, where my parents stayed behind for a few months due to the birth of my little sister. I was too young to remember that, but I do remember her taking care of me in elementary school while my parents were working or going to school.
At almost 90 years old, she has lived a very long life, leaving behind 4 children and 8 grandchildren. Her husband died when my father was 5 years old, and she remained a single mother–in Vietnam. She made and sold food for a living. I got to enjoy her cooking expertise when I was growing up. One of my regrets for not knowing Vietnamese well was I had trouble speaking to her since she didn’t understand English. Fortunately I was able to understand spoken Vietnamese still.
When I spoke to my father about her death, he reassured me that this really was for the best. She was in the hospital from the pneumonia, and her kidney had failed, causing fluid retention. There was an option to put her on dialysis but it was merely postponing the inevitable. Even before that, she had trouble recognizing family members, even my father who would regularly visit her in nursing home. She had no idea who I was but that was understandable since I would visit my family and her in Southern California a few times a year.
Despite my personal pain of losing my beloved grandmother, there is solace in knowing that she can now rest in peace.