Two years after my maternal grandmother (ah chor) passed away, we said goodbye to my paternal grandmother (ah ma) – the kids great-grandmother whom they called Lao ma.
Like ah chor, Lao ma lived a good, long life. She was 90, had 8 children, 11 grandchildren, 8 great-grandchildren. She died of a brain aneurysm leading to a stroke. She was in a coma for nine days before she succumbed.
She was lucky to have her full mental capacity right up to the day before her stroke. My uncle recalled discussing the buying and selling of shares with her just hours before she went to bed and never woke up. She had great fun dabbling in the stock markets in the last few decades of her life, often helping my parents monitor the stocks and shares on Teletext while they were at work. She did not read much English but could recognise the alphabets that formed the stocks she owned!
When my sister graduated, we went to the studio for her graduation photoshoot. Below, my parents, sisters, my husband and ah ma.
It was a couple of years after my grandfather passed on. So during the studio shoot, ah ma had her “funeral portrait” taken as well. As it turned out, she outlived ah gong by almost 20 years. My mother kept her portrait in the cupboard all this while.
So I was grateful to have had the opportunity to cook her a meal on Mother’s Day just last month.
Of course we never expected it would be our last gathering with ah ma. She was full of life, enjoying the family, the food and our laughter, apart from dozing off towards the end of the evening on my sofa. She had some minor ailments and walked with the help of a walking stick. Apart from that, she was blessed with largely good health. For that, we’re thankful.
While we mourn her passing, we celebrate the good life she led. We will miss her signature cabbage duck dish cooked over the charcoal stove every Chinese New Year, but we will go on to continue to cook for our family, feeding them homecooked meals the way she fed us. Rest well, ah ma. You deserve it.