January 11th 2014
2 years ago, one of the most important people in my life left me along many loved ones – my maternal grandfather, Kong Kong.
He was such a caring grandfather.. Even when he was breathless and in lots of discomfort for the past months, he was still making sure I had the right medication. He wasn’t one to be full of life advice, besides him constantly telling me not to eat too much spicy foods because I’ll get gastritis. Throughout his life, he had his own fair share of up and downs. But, he did teach me to find inner peace and happiness with any given situation. He was always content and never tried controlling things out of his control.
My kong kong’s health was deteriorating very rapidly. Within a span of 1 month, he went from walking to bedridden; barely able to speak and his lungs filled with phlegm. I did my best to visit him whenever I could after work (thanks to the efforts of my papa driving me around!) and it was sad to see my beloved kong kong so sick and helpless.. 😥
At the start of December when I visited him, we would be able to have conversations and he still had the energy to give away his stash of expensive Chinese tea to me. But, as weeks went by his body continued swelling up more, his breathing became more difficult and it ended up him mainly listening to me chat away. I still did it anyway, to accompany him. Whether it was telling him how much I was learning at my internship, how fragrant the Chinese tea was or the amazing animals on National Geographic (one of his favourite TV shows alongside other documentaries and sports). Sometimes he would respond with one or two sentences or simply nod his head.
I don’t know if you believe in fate or not, but I do. One weekend during my internship period, I chose to sleepover at my grandpa’s house so I could spend more time with him. He was pretty bedridden by then and not able to speak. All I could do was make sure he was comfortable, not in pain and tell him what I was doing so he knew he wasn’t alone. I would keep my energy up hoping that it will influence his energy and make him feel at peace that we, his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren, were ok 🙂 I remember the one time I told my kong kong I was drinking the most amazing Pu Erh tea and saying how much I loved it. He made the biggest “um” sound to acknowledge my statement, which was unusual as it took him a lot of effort to respond more than nodding his head..
I even got so desperate to keep my kong kong entertained, I started singing haha – When I was younger and I had sleepovers at my grandparents’ house, he would play all sorts of songs on the harmonica for us. He played Oh Suzanna, Moon Represents My Heart, Auld Lang Syne and some other Chinese songs with Mo Li Hua being my favourite – So I thought, maybe I should sing Mo Li Hua to him. Even if it’s bad, at least he’s laughing deep inside.
I knew the day was coming, I just didn’t know it was that close. That weekend, the rest of the family were heading out to dinner but Uncle Robert and I chose to stay back with the nanny to accompany my kong kong. As the group of my aunts and uncles said “See you after dinner, won’t be long!” to my grandpa, he let out the loudest sound which sounded like bye so we all thought he was doing ok and was able to try say something. So, I continued doing what I was doing the past 2 days. Talking to my grandpa, Singing, eating and telling him the new discoveries about animals I learnt from watching National Geographic on his behalf and keeping him updated with the Australian Open scores.
I got abit hungry so I told my grandpa I’ll be back in 2 minutes to get some food from the pantry. As I got to the kitchen, the nanny came running to me panicking; saying that my grandpa had passed away. We ran back to the room and I heard my kong kong take his last breath. We were all crying in shock but strangely grateful to have been till his last breath to show him how loved he was ❤ (Based on the Chinese culture, tears should not touch the body because it is believed that if they feel tears on their body they can’t go through the next stage of life peacefully)
Amongst many funny and happy memories, my favourite was the time he proudly look out his magnifying glass to look for my name in the newspaper when I told him I got a great score for VCE (last year of high school exam). Pretty funny and memorable moment.
I’ll always remember the times when he pulls out his wallet to show me my aunties’ business card which he had kept for so many years it was all crumpled in his wallet.
I’ll always remember sharing a pot of tea with my kong kong while he tried teaching me to appreciate good quality, expensive Chinese tea. Drinking strong bitter Chinese tea was something he and I would enjoy together. I would go over to my grandparents’ house and he would make a pot of his most expensive tea for us to share.
I’ll always remember one of the trips to Old Town and he proudly introduced me to anyone he knew as his granddaughter and had the biggest smile on his face when someone said I looked like him. (Most of the family members looked more like my grandma)
I’ll always remember that one time my sis and I slept over and he played the harmonica for us. He was brilliant and had much more energy than us. We were recording all the songs he played on our phones and laughed so hard together.
I can only hope he’s living happily in heaven with my grandma, popo and that we will someday meet again!
So, to you kong kong, if you’re watching us or reading this, I toast this cup of tea to you and sing to you, Auld Lang Syne..