I have always heard people say, “To the most amazing guy ever” or “To the most incredibly woman ever”, but I never knew what that meant. What do they mean when they say “most amazing”? What level of amazingness should someone be at to be crowned amazing?
It didn’t dawn on me what ‘amazing’ meant until my grandfather suddenly passed away exactly two weeks ago today. 16 October, Wednesday, 2.40pm.
He was the epitome of greatness in my eyes. He was my father, my grandfather, my hero and an incredibly wise man. He showed me that anger and bigotry will not bring you anywhere and that fighting between family members is not worth engaging in. He was my rock, he was my spirit, and now he’s gone. Forever immortalized only in memories.
The last time both my sister and I met him was his birthday, August 12th, 2013, the day this photo was taken. We were showing him my sister’s new iPad and he was in awe that the device can take pictures and videos. He watched a video of himself and laughed. “Wow, this is very good!” He said excitedly. We took many pictures together that day, though not many enough. I’m glad we did, nonetheless.
I called him a few days before my university musical (before 12th October) that I acted in, just to check up on him. The phone rang for quite some time and finally, I heard his voice. I asked how he was, but I couldn’t hear what he was saying. He was mostly mumbling words, probably trying to catch his breath, probably in pain because his back was bothering him. He asked me when I was coming back and I said, “December”. Thinking back now, I bet he was rather sad that I would be coming back late because he knew, at the back of his mind, that he didn’t have much time.
That was what he said when we met him back in August. “Kungkung tidak tau kalau Kungkung dapat hidup lama ni” (I don’t know if I will live long), to which brush off and told him to not say such things. He was a strong man, still moving about. I have seen my friends’ grandparents going in and out of hospitals and yet, they are still here, so I wasn’t too worried about my grandfather.
When I heard that he went to the hospital, I honestly thought that it was nothing serious. I thought that my mom was making a huge fuss over nothing, being overly dramatic with the whole, “He’s really sick, please come back”. I called the doctor and asked how he was and she said he was fine and was not in critical condition, so I wasn’t too panicked. Both my sister and I however, went back the next day.
We reached KK around 11am or so. Our turn to take care of my grandfather wasn’t until 4pm, so we figured we could hang with friends for a bit. Little did we know at 2.40pm or so, my mom called and told me, “something happen to Kungkung. Go there now.” We rushed there only to find my two cousins crying outside. “Is he gone?” One of them nodded and we ran inside. Everyone was crying, my aunt, my uncle, my cousins… They were all crying. And on the bed was my grandfather, covered in white cloth, body still warm.
My sister broke down and fell to the floor. She started crying, I didn’t. Somehow or rather, I have prepared myself for this. The day before, when I was still on the other side of the country, I keep telling myself, if anything happen, I am ready. If it’s time, I am ready. I never knew that the ‘time’ would be the next day.
I went to my grandfather and touched his head, brushing his hair with my fingers, as if trying to console him. I then called out to him gently, as if trying to call him back, waking him up almost, but I knew there was nothing I can do. He’s gone. My grandma came to me and told me that she had told him to “hold on because Jasmine and Jacintha are coming back, but it was too late. It was time to go”. I felt bad. I did know what to tell her as to why I arrived late. Why I didn’t go there straight the moment I reached KK because that was the point anyway. The reason why we went back was to meet my grandfather.
My sister, overlooking my grandfather’s empty chair, the chair that he sits on every day watching his Chinese series.
I was sad to not be able to talk to him for the last time, I was sad that I didn’t go visit him the moment I reached KK. A part of my feel regret, but another part of me felt relieved because I didn’t have to see him suffer with all the tubes around him, that my image of him was still this healthy old man who could walk about and not have tubes around him, and when I saw him again, it was still the same old man who did not have tubes around him.
But I did wished that I had the opportunity to meet him for the very last time before he leaves, not for me, but for him. I was being selfish when I said that a part of me felt relieved that I didn’t see him suffer, but in reality, I would want to be there for him, to let him know that all of us are there as a family to ‘send’ him off.
Things have changed now. My ritual to meet my family members while I am back home will remain the same, but for my grandfather, it would be a visit to his grave. It’s so sad, but it’s a part of life – death.
The greatest pride I have of my relationship with my grandfather and one that I am truly grateful to have is the rich experience and memories I have with him. Both my sister and I are the closest ones to my grandfather and he tells his all the time of how proud he is of us. He’s always alone in the house, watching TV while the world moves around him, so it’s always good to have both my sister and I come visit whenever we’re back home.
I would always do anything to make him laugh whenever we meet him. I wish I did more, but I am always so so happy that I made him proud and I am so so glad that he tells me that every time I meet him. It means the world to have a family member to be proud of you, especially your parents and grandparents. It’s definitely something that I will keep in mind forever.
Today I pray for him, as I have been for past two weeks. I miss him so so much. I still cry whenever I think of him, like how I am crying now. It’s tough, very tough. I never knew that it could be this painful to lose a grandparent, but it is. I think it’s still painful to loose just about anybody in your life, but especially my Kungkung whom I love and cherish so much.
Rest in peace, Kungkung.