Last Sunday, my daughter sent me a text.
When is Cho Cho’s birthday? Has it passed already?
Ah, the highlights of childhood- Chinese New Year at Popo’s house, and Popo’s birthday.
On the day we finally laid our grandmother at sea, I remember wondering, how is it possible, for one woman, to have impacted so many lives, just by being authentically herself?
I wondered if I would ever attend another funeral of the same scale.
I wondered about grief. Now I know grief is sly. It sneaks up on you just when you think you’re no longer sinking.
For a woman born in 1916, and who did not have a career outside of the home, my grandmother was incredibly progressive and open-minded. She was never fazed by failed relationships- broken marriages, sexual orientation, love affairs. She was extremely divisive in her love- but at the very end of her life, I wondered if she had asked to be returned to sea, because it meant orchestrating her large family, to gather as one.
She had also asked for her ashes to be mixed with her husband’s.
Which made me wonder- did she not want to be alone in her next life? My very independent grandmother? Or was it that as life stills and fades, all is simply, forgiven?
My husband who did not suffer during his own grandmothers’ deaths, was muted.
In Los Angeles, Mike asked me to marry him. My grandmother on the phone from Singapore, comforting me. Never mind. Girls like you now, you don’t need to get married. You better go do what you want to do with your dancing…
Jon asked me to marry him. My grandmother again, consoling. But curled up on the floor, in the East Village, I can feel her impatience. If you keep saying you’re scared, you’ll end up with no one! Every time someone asks you to marry him, you say, no, because you’e scared? Why are you scared? Don’t be scared! Just try lah!
She even threw in a punchline. A man will only ask you once! You say, no, he will never ask again. Tammy, don’t be so stupid. Listen to Popo!
Popo? I’m still listening.