Monday, July 9, 2018

Goodbye, Ama

My grandma finally passed away in early morning of 29 June. I said finally because she had been unwell for the past 2 months or so and it hurts to see her suffering. She has been healthy all through her life and finally she passed away naturally due to aging. All the family members have been prepared for the past month and it was sweet that she waited for all her grandchildren, even those staying in US, to have a chance to visit her in the past month. My parents had been asking me to visit her for one last time but I refused. I last visited her in April and sorry for being selfish but I want to treasure my last memory with her as a happy one.

The air ticket cost a bomb. I spent $800+ for SQ Singapore-Jakarta flight and $100+ for Garuda Jakarta-Pontianak flight. Just imagine how expensive those budget airlines were when I still chose full service airlines at this time. It was money worth spending for my beloved grandma. In fact, I have to be grateful that I still could get air tickets that allowed me for a back-to-back flight with minimum wait time in Jakarta despite only buying it in the same morning. I met up with my mom and sister to catch the Jakarta-Pontianak flight and it was our first time at terminal 3 airport of Soekarno-Hatta. We took our time and we did not expect that the gates were so far apart. Even after the final call, we were still so far and we had to sprint our way to the gate. Lucky the plane did not leave us haha..

At Pontianak, there was more happiness meeting with extended families than sadness since we were all prepared and my grandma passed away peacefully. She looked beautiful and as beautiful as when I saw lately when she was still around. Even when we exchanged stories, we exchanged good stories and memories with her. In fact, we were told to wear red to celebrate that she got to leave past 100 years old. My contribution was only to count the money that people gave and it was not an easy job. I was not that familiar handling Indonesian Rupiah anymore, the notes could be sticky, and with the number of pieces to count, it was crazy.

I am usually picky when I go to Pontianak as I can only sleep in my aunt's room. My elder sister slept with her so I had to sleep on the floor. I could not really sleep well and to help with the money counting, I had the option of counting at the end of the day (sleeping late) or in the morning (waking up early). Lol. Anyway the days were not too tiring so I should not be complaining. I just got a bit cranky due to lack of sleep. My uncle and aunt from my mom's side also came so I accompanied them to tour the city more than spending the time at the wake. I enjoyed my time in the car as people did not really play Pokemon Go here and there were a lot of Team Instinct gyms with open slots. I sent 6 pokemons at one go some of them only returned to me a few days later.

The good thing about Pontianak being a good city is that everything is nearby. You forget something at home? Just drive and maybe in 20 minutes later you already return to the funeral home. When things got boring there, we could easily order food in or drove out. Haha.. We could even drive to find cleaner toilet. Lol. There is only 1 toilet at the funeral home and my goodness.. the smell... I had to hold my breath. The floor is always wet and thank goodness I am a guy. I can't imagine how the ladies will have to do it there. On the Saturday, my dad also joined to accompany my uncle and aunt to show the city and we drove all the way to Kapuas River. Then we received a phone call that one of his colleague turned up at the wake so he quickly drove back. All that was done within half an hour. Haha.. That is how near things are.

I had a course from 3-6 July so I had to go back to Singapore first and missed her cremation. My grandma's wish is for her ashes to be scattered at the same place as my grandpa so her ashes were brought in to Jakarta. I flew again on Saturday for the scattering of the ashes yesterday. My grandpa passed around 12 years ago and the actual date only differed a few days from grandma's passing. I do not know if that is just a coincidence or that is the power of love.

I only had vague memories about my grandpa's cremation and scattering of ashes and some were not factually correct like how I thought the sea was near the cremation site but according to my sister, it was like 2 hours drive away lol. I went to the boat too but I did not remember what happened on the boat. Lol. I only remembered that the sea was visible from the land. My dad said this time we were at the exactly same place but wow how much the area changed. Apparently they build a seawall so the area from the seawall to the actual "beach" has turned into sea of rubbish and poor villages that I don't know legal or illegal.

Last time there was only 1 boat but this time one of my cousins whose hobby is fishing was able to borrow another 2 boats so in everyone could experience going to the boat to do the ash scattering. I hopped on to the main boat because I am one of the "inner" grandsons and I am a Catholic so I could join in the prayers too. I was being tasked to carry the crucifix which meant that I had to lead the procession. It is not because I am important but because I was the most useless haha. I did not know what to do and I just followed orders while other able body men already carried heavier things.

I find it amusing that our family was just as usual in this occasion. Everyone was busy with their own things and forgot to bring the holy water. Lol. The third boat had to return to the land to fetch the holy water first while my boat (mostly my uncles and aunts) were arguing about the holy water: where was it? what bottle was it in? how come everyone forgot? etc. I guess that was what my grandma would remember our family dynamic had been always.

Anyway I tried so hard not to cry during the whole thing, even when I said the final goodbye before her cremation as I had to fly back earlier. Perhaps what people did not know was I cried so hard already in Singapore, especially when I took the morning shower before catching the flight 2 weeks ago.

I cried not because I am sad. She has lived a full life and I think we are happy that she no longer needs to suffer. What makes me cry is all the beautiful memories with her. As her youngest grandson, essentially I am the naughtiest and most rebellious too. I was so picky about food and only had a few favorites when I was young. So when she was staying in Jakarta, she would always remember to buy those few things I liked. Even when she subsequently moved back to Pontianak, she would try to buy those food when I went visiting. My naughtiest moment was when I played around and jumped like a Tarzan from my old baby bed and successfully hit the floor with my forehead. She was staying with us that time and since my parents were working, I remembered she was rubbing my forehead so hard and was crying while I was just lying there stupidly not knowing what I just did. Hehe.. I forgot a lot of things when I was young but this one I definitely would not forget.

My grandma studied in Singapore when she was young so she was happy when I got the chance to study and am still working there now. Perhaps that is one reason that during her dementia days, she would often mistake me as her youngest son instead of grandson. Haha.. I shall remember and honour her wish to be a good boy here and to find a wife. That is the only message that she repeated when I called or visited her. A few years ago she still could even joke that she would not die yet and would wait until I get married first. Sorry Ama, looks like I am taking too long.

Now that everything is over, there is one question that has been bugging everyone's mind: how old is my grandma? Last year we all celebrated her 100th birthday so this year she should be 101 years old. Yet on some of the flowers, people said she is 102 years old. Yet we are very sure that her Chinese zodiac is horse and based on that, she should be born in 1918. That means she is only 100 years old this year!! Lol.. Or if based on the Chinese zodiac, then it is also not wrong to consider last year as her 100th birthday according to Chinese calendar. So yea, how is the 102 years old come about?? Haha..