generation kitchen - stories behind the food

It’s been a year today.. bye bye popo

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5/8/13… 5/8/14 I can’t believe it has been a year since my popo (maternal grandma) passed away after months of battling cancer. The doctor said she had 3 months to live. But, my popo was mentally so positive and strong throughout it all. Even after losing her eyesight in one eye, she was still watching tv, cooking, “bossing” people around and pottering around the house to keep herself busy. She would enjoy each day as if it were her last (but at the same time tell everyone she’s feeling great). I remember her laughing so full heartedly we were all having stomach cramps and had to wipe off the happy tears hahaha

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Candid shot!! hahaha I remember this very clearly of my popo eating Kuih Kapet (Love Letters). We were laughing so much causing her to drop crumbs all over the floor making us laugh even more. Not sure what we were laughing about but i sure remember this happy moment 🙂 How cute!!

She still flooded me with life advice while I reassured her that I will take care of my mum and everyone else and that I will pack my bed. She often apologised for being a pain because everyone was taking time off to visit her and take care of her and was slower than everyone else. It absolutely broke my heart whenever she apologised. We all knew this day would come, even if we didn’t want her to go. She held onto her life way over-exceeding the doctors’ expectations by almost a year. Eventhough she was experiencing excruciating amounts of pain, frustration and discomfort, she still made sure that everyone had enough to eat. Oh, a mother’s love!


When Popo visited me in my dream

On the 5th of August 2013, she took her last breath and joined her late parents (my greatgrandparents) and her late son (Uncle Peter). I was still in Australia the night she passed away. I did not get to physically be there for her but she visited me in my dream to say goodbye to me. In the dream, it was a dark, chilly and windy night in an unfamiliar setting. My grandma and my 5 aunts were walking about 10 metres behind me. They were chatty as usual except for my grandma who didn’t say a word. As she led the group, she just looked straight ahead with the most radiant smile. Strangely, all of them started increasing the pace of their walk. I found myself jogging; it almost felt like I was being chased after. Just as I was about to go up a flight of stairs, I could sense that my grandma was tired. So I turned back to check on her. That moment was the most beautiful I had ever seen her. Radiant, clear, fair skin. Beautiful, contagious smile. Hair was dark and full. She was wearing a very familiar white shirt with green, orange and pink flowers. Oddly enough I knew in the dream she had cancer, I could actually feel it. I sat her down on the floor behind the wall to block away from the wind and put my thick winter jacket over her. As I put the second scarf around her neck, she started to get tired and heavy-eyed. I started to panic for abit, unsure if it was her sleeping or passing away. Suddenly, my aunts all shouted “Aly” from afar. That woke my grandma up. She kinda jolted up but then very slowly closed her eyes and laid back again. I had her in my arms as she smiled so radiantly and so lovingly. It was almost as if she had seen her late parents, brother and son again. I called out “Popo.. popo..”. She just continued smiling while laying in my arms. I knew at that moment she was gone. She had passed away in my arms. She came to visit me personally to say her last goodbye to me. I woke up at approximately 5am and checked to have received 2 missed calls from my aunts in Malaysia. I knew for sure that dream was my grandma’s way of saying goodbye but I wasn’t ready to say goodbye. I felt so sad yet so touched that she chose to visit me.

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She always shared her deepest feelings with me, secretly. It was almost like our ‘grandma-granddaughter’ thing that no one else knew about. She would share her greatest joys, deepest sorrows and many funny memories we shared together (like my crazy obsession with Mr.Bean when i was younger). She always said she knew I loved my late grandpa and her the most. She would say to me “I know you love me and kong kong the most” in Mandarin. I miss her so much. Sometimes I still can’t believe that she’s gone..I’ve been blessed with such beautiful memories and moments that I’ll treasure forever. Sometimes, I can still feel and imagine her gentle touch and her voice that would so easily soften my heart.. That’s how special a grandma she was ❤

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As a family we chose the song “The Moon Represents my Heart” 月亮代表我的心 by Teresa Teng for my grandma which perfectly describes my grandma and the legacy she left. My grandma’s name is Chong Yut Meng. ‘Yut’ means moon. ‘Meng’ translated in Mandarin means dream. The moon in the Chinese culture is of great importance to man as there will be no Lunar Calendar without the moon. Everytime I look up into the sky, I look for the moon and I say a little prayer to popo hoping that she will visit me once again 🙂

(part of the song translated in English)

You ask me how deep my love for you is, How much I really love you… My affection is real. My love is real. The moon represents my heart.

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Popo, no matter how far you are and wherever you may be, I’ll close my eyes and you’ll be in my dreams. 婆 婆 我 爱你 (Wo ai ni).. Loon – 叶 凯 伦

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