Memories of Grandpa

September is one of the month of moments for me. One of them was the 16th, which was the anniversary of my late grandpa’s passing. It was 14 years ago I remembered when I was 15, just few more weeks before sitting for my PMR exam, our family received a sad news from the doc saying grandpa was diagnosed with a cancer, and had no chance for a cure or to live.

It was too late as the diagnosis was carried out during its very chronic stage, so the hospital can’t do anything about it. We were told to get ‘prepared’. The word ‘prepared’ still gave me the creeps up to this day.

I fondly remember how grandpa was still having dinner with us just a fortnight before his death. He was extremely thin compared to his healthy time – handsomely chubby, with ciggie 24/7 and black coffee. Still manage to crack jokes for laugh at the dinner table, I saw uncle-aunt and cousins trying hard to shape a fake smile just to buy his joke.

We were very sure he was trying his best to entertain us, though knowing he ain’t going to be there for long. It was on the 16th, around 7pm, uncle came and informed us that grandpa was having difficulties on his bedsit. I remembered that time we were watching TV3 news on TV when uncle came to our house. We hurried and left home to rush to see him only to find grandpa lying, almost motionless in his makeshift ‘death-bed’. He can’t even lift his hands up. The monstrous cancer is really killing him softly but painfully it seems.

I could see his tears flowing and his mouth was mumbling. Something. I don’t comprehend, nor understand. Message from the underworld? Or perhaps, communicating with the underworld? I don’t know.

Grandma yelled ‘Grandkids! Call your grandpa don’t go! Say something! Say something!’. We stood there and I being the eldest among his grandkids, were huddled around his bedsit. I was too stunned to do anything. Uncle, aunt, and mom were there too, tearing profusely already. Dad was missing. He was in a foreign assignment at that time in some country I don’t remember.

In 45 minutes struggling to hear grandpa talk, he finally lose the struggle and gave up leaving us all forever. His immediate departure then create further downpour of tears i all of us. With uncle and granny being the loudest.

I was calm, yet teary. I stood at the corner. Speechless.

The elderly then dressed grandpa in funeral costume – the traditional Taoist way. I then foresee that we are going to be subjected under the most strictest funeral regime of all time that will lasted few nights before burial.

A contact was then made to Dad’s company summoning him to come back immediately prior to this family emergency. In 24 hours, Dad was home via helicopter and plane, and cabs and coaches. I was rather surprised how Dad can make it back so quickly despite the fact that he was so far away during that assignment.

Dad then arrived. Still holding his luggage, he abandoned his luggage in front of grandpa’s house gate hastily, and crawl from the gate to the coffin in the living room crying. Not sure what custom is this, but Dad wasn’t standing at all until he finished his crawl to grandpa’s coffin. He kneelled till swell, profusely crying.
The next funeral day, we had a ‘lavish’ march on the streets of our hometown. All family relatives and many folks who’ve known grandpa join the brief march around town and continued the journey in car convoys towards the outskirt of the Chinese cemetery located in the north-east of our town.

The new cemetery was located in a hilly area right at the foot of the mountain range. Filled with lush greenery, its serene scenic view and atmosphere does create a factor hoping to appease all souls there.

Well, its 14 years now, and;

I won’t forget my trips in your motorbike to your durian orchard.
I won’t forget how you introduce me to your Malay friends as ‘Cucu Ah Lim’.
I won’t forget how I adopted the same taste of loving coffee as much as you do.
I won’t forget how you accompany me to attend prize-giving ceremony for top scorers in school exams in our local Hokkien Association HQ.

I won’t forget. 14 years. I won’t forget.
May God bless your soul grandpa. Rest in peace wherever you may be.