Grandmother used to live with her eldest daughter and took care of her grandsons, 1 who is kind & the other incredibly clever. She had been getting sick with diabetes and high blood pressure but never put herself into strict diet. Living in a flat, she had thrown tantrums when aunt couldn’t bring the things she wanted fast enough. “I better die, jump off the building,” she had threatened several times.
First Aunt went even as far as going to pray & asked the “Gods” to shorten her life instead and give to her mother. Soon after that, she put grandmother to my home. My father was the sole son & they being traditional had 1 opinion that the elder should die with the son around. What a load of bullshit.
That was about 8 years ago. Both my paternal & maternal grandmother were born in the year of Snake. They were as night and day – 1 who was kind & cared about us, 1 who gave us rotten food after she & First Aunt family couldn’t finish it. But both were afraid of spirits, very much afraid. My maternal grandmother had The Sight. Sometimes in the middle of the night, she would come out and waved angrily at the air, screaming obscenities and told me to go back inside home. We no longer had her to tell us where there’s something else but we all believe that there are spirits everywhere. They can be bad or good and even neutral.
We were cynics when it came to paternal grandmother’s saying, “I’m going to die soon ahhh.” She had been saying that for more than 8 years. Going to the hospital could perk her up. Maybe it’s the psychology that she was going to be cured or at least given painkillers or someone to ask her how she was doing. Whenever she had to be hospitalized, families would come to visit her & her face would lighten up. It’s sad when you have to resort to hospitalization to get your relatives to see you. But then, some relatives would say that she didn’t really care about them when they were younger anyway; so why should they care now?
Besides, she had always been biased toward the son, my father. Whatever bad my father did, she wouldn’t say a word but defend him. She was a woman yet she didn’t have self respect for females. It irked me a lot when she proudly announced my scores in major exams & graduation from University. Who the hell was she to tell? She had no right!
Coming to stay with us, we had no choice but to accommodate her and we had major changes. Food must include meat and rice. Everyday. We couldn’t go out as much as we wanted – at least mother was affected on this. I didn’t care :p if she complained or worried that I was still not yet home the next day. Whoever turned on the tv would be the entertainment guard, until he/she turned it off. Usually it would be her watching the 6pm and then 7pm drama. By 8.30pm, we would rush to on the tv again. After awhile, we couldn’t take it and grabbed the channels back to our favourite programs.
1 thing good when she was staying with us, she would open and close the door for father whenever he goes out hehe. That meant we could just go off to work and didn’t have to use 20 seconds to close the door and gate.
There were times when she would vomit after eating, practically everyday. Doctor had advised her repeatedly to go for dialysis for years. She told the doctors and nurses to f*** off behind their backs, in front of us. It’s expensive to go for dialysis (at least RM2K per month at semi-public hospitals) and it’s tiring. Who would fetch her to hospital every 3 days in a week? We all had to work. But most of all, I suspect the reason she didn’t want to do dialysis was she was afraid of dying. Her daughters & grandchildren had been telling her of “real stories” where their friends, relatives, friends’ relatives died during the first stages of dialysis.
I don’t believe that dialysis would accelerate death. Those people who died during dialysis were already in the serious & late stages of diabetes. There are countless people who had and is undergoing dialysis and they are very active. If only she had taken care of her health by eating right and exercise. My father had high sugar in his blood too but he cut a lot of “sweet”/ high carbo food and didn’t have to take diabetes medicine for a few years already.
For more than a week, she moaned in the middle of the night, “Ai yo… aii yo… aiiiii yo…” Sometimes she would walk to the living room and sat there, suddenly scolding, “WHY NOT YET COME BACK HOME?! SO LATE ALREADY!” or “REHEAT RICE NOW! DINNER LAH!”
We informed her repeatedly that it was middle of the night and why not she go back to sleep. She said, “I’m hungry..” So we would get some bread or milk for her.
Then this would be repeated a few times each night-morning.
When she was hospitalized for the last time, doctor informed her and my father, “People who had done dialysis at your mother’s stage would have about 7 days to live and your mother didn’t have any dialysis done.” Somehow when I asked father, he said another doctor told him that she had 24hours to live!
It wasn’t that big shock. After so many years of hospitalization, it was only a matter of time since she didn’t want to change a thing.
Her children, now grown up women and man, didn’t volunteer to stay overnight to be with her! It was a Thursday night. Everyone had to work on Friday but still! If it were my parents, I would take emergency leave to be with them since doctor had already given early warning of her lifespan! Hello? 24hours and she had used up 16hours already!
So I stayed up the night there, regretting that I had forgotten to take my blanket over. A cousin accompanied me to buy midnight snacks & magazine at the other wing. They told me not to walk over there by myself, “Dangerous for a girl.” Uh huh.
Seeing that grandmother was breathing fine (surprisingly) at one point, I went to the dark side. The other side for 7 Eleven. Had to go through the bride and I was truly the only human being walking over there. Was tempted to run but I calmed myself and thought “May everyone have peace love and harmony”, lest I was attacked by someone from the outside window or dead but unrest spirits. The 7 Eleven hah! Totally NOT worth my lone trip there! It was sooooo small & didn’t have the things that I wanted. Frankly, I didn’t know what I wanted to buy from there but it was not the junk food.
There was a Delifrance and a total of 3 people sitting there. 1 was sleeping, the other dozing on a list and another reading newspaper. I asked the only awake person, “Do you have internet cafe here?”
He looked at me blankly. “CC?”
“Apa tu CC?” I asked him back. In my book, Cc is for Carbon Copy in emails.
“Sori lah, sini ada free internet tapi tak ada cyber cafe.”
“Oh ok.” Should’ve brought my notebook from home but then, I didn’t even bring my notebook from work to home that day. Oh, I had Ipaq!
That Ipaq was inside my notebook bag at work. Aiyo!