Conversations with my grandmother

Now that all three of kids of the Chia family are grown up and busy with school, we hardly spend any time at home. When we do, we’re usually shut off in our own world, doing our own thing, stressed out by our own lives. The one who suffers the most I think, is my grandmother. She comes to my house every morning but then we’re hardly at home. So more often than not, she’s faced with an empty house with only the television (which she doesn’t know how to operate to change its channel) and the maid for company. She eats lunch on her own, watches TV or sleeps because really, what else can she do? Nowadays, there has been more and more days when she spends the entire day alone at my house. I don’t often think about it, but when I do, I feel really really sad and guilty.

And my guilt is increased tenfold and more because on days when I’m home, I’m stuck in front of the computer doing my own stuff. The only time I emerge from my hole is when we have meals together. Even then, I often use my phone while at the dinner table so I’m not really engaging in conversation with her. I realise I really take my grandmother for granted. She does so many things for me, I don’t even realise she’s the one doing it half the time because stuff just happen for me. She packs my room for me, she puts out my pyjamas for me before she goes home, she buys me all the food she thinks I like. But so very, very often I find her annoying and feel frustrated when she talks to me.

Often when she tells me stories, I even listen half-heartedly. I nod at the appropriate pauses, ask leading questions, laugh at some parts and all that. But I’m not really listening.  Then when I finish my meal, I occasionally just excuse myself, saying that I need to rush some school work (which is true only about 60% of the time). A lot of times I don’t realise how thoughtless I’m being. How I’m being such a selfish granddaughter, only worrying about my own needs.

Last year during my holidays, I spent some time watching dramas with my grandmother. It was really nice, both of us laughed and bonded over the dramas together. But than school started. I stopped watching the dramas with her but I still played the VCDs for her. Soon it became more like a chore, or even something to occupy her (so that she wouldn’t bother me). When I ran out of VCDs to play for her, I just continued my life as per normal.

I don’t usually think of how my grandmother must feel. She’s not exactly the healthiest person. She tells me of incidents when she fell or suddenly couldn’t move or some medical condition she’s facing at the moment. Then I feel so incredibly grateful for the strangers who help her, who give up their seat for her, who do things that I should be doing as a granddaughter – looking after her.

I love my grandmother so very very much. But all I do is pay lip-service to that. I want to list out all the things she’s done for me, but truthfully, I’d never be able to because I probably don’t even know all the things she has done. It feels like our relationship is a one-way thing yknw. She’s the one who keeps giving and giving and giving but as her grandchildren, all we do is receive and sometimes even push away her efforts. She may show her love for us in ways we don’t like but the fact is, she’s trying to show us she cares in her own way.

It feels like all I can do for her is to try to make her laugh. To be at home more so that at least someone will be around to eat with her, to talk to her and to change the TV channel for her.

So the point of this is that.. I’m going to try my best to treat my grandmother a lot better. And mei I hope you’ll find the time to do so too. To me, one of the most most most important things in the world is my family. I want my grandmother to remember that her grandchildren still love her a whole lot even though we’re busy with our lives now. I love you 婆婆 ♥ 

Conversations with my grandmother

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