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Early yesterday morning, the beloved mother of my mother slipped peacefully into the next life.
She was surrounded by her loved ones and in a way, I am glad that my mother was able to rush back home from overseas, to share in her last moments.
I think as we reach a certain age, the mortality of our parents becomes an increasingly conscious thought, but the finality of the situation never really sinks in.
Last year my Grandpa passed away, which was the catalyst for starting this blog – you realize that time is the most precious resource of all, that there is more to life than working for 40 hours a week for 40 years just so we can retire on $40k a year.
So today’s post is dedicated to my late Grandma, it wouldn’t be right for her Grandson not to write one.
She was a remarkably strong and independent woman all her life, right up until the last moment – when the doctors wanted to try and insert more tubes here and inject more needles there, she flatly refused them.
She wanted to go out her own way.
Here are 4 things which I’ve learnt from her during our time together.
She was a very proud and independent woman.
However to provide context, her and her generation grew up during one of the most volatile and chaotic periods in history, back in the motherland (China).
Her husband (my Mum and Uncle’s Father) passed away suddenly when Mum was only a teenager, and for my Grandma to single-handedly raise two children during their formative years at a time of great hardship and discrimination against single mothers – is immense.
I can’t imagine the discrimination and pressure she must have been under day in, day out.
But through it all, she knew that if she stayed strong – she would pass through it.
And years after, she was fortunate to find someone who cared and loved her despite her “disadvantaged” background. That is, the Grandpa who I have known and loved.
In this life, the only person who can look after you is yourself – learn to build independence and resilience. Life is hard – but this too shall pass.
Grandma was originally from the provinces (rural) and came to the big city (Beijing) pretty early on in her life to find, like most who do, better work and employment opportunities.
After establishing herself, she made it a mission to help relocate her siblings one by one so they too can share in more opportunities.
And this want of helping others has been a consistent theme throughout her life.
During her working career, she received numerous awards and recognition of assisting her fellow employees (proudly displayed at home).
Post retirement, she kept herself busy by helping out around the block – babysitting kids when their parents were away, making meals for her neighbours (phenomenal cook) and sitting on various committees to better the local neighbourhood.
Suffice to say, she was well liked and I was always amazed at the random faces who stopped by to say hello and a few words whenever I visited her.
Karma does get recognized, if it is in your nature to help others – you will be rewarded far beyond financial means. Grandma liked being popular, and in turn went out of her way to help more people.
MrsFrugalSamurai only knew her for a very short time, however in that time she mentioned over and over again how “modern” Grandma was.
This is because, she wanted to keep up to date with the latest trends, fashions and gadgets.
It was very amusing to me that she used a smartphone, knew how to Facetime and was also a proficient user of WeChat (Chinese version of Whatsapp).
Which 85 year old does that?
She didn’t want the world to pass her by is my guess – in fact she always wanted to know what the English word for certain things were.
“Who is that?” points at phone screen.
“That’s Be-yon-ce Grandma – she’s going to be the next President of the United States”.
Always be learning, nothing is as important as learning something new each day. Many of us stop learning once we get out of school, or start work, or when the kids are born – we get stuck into our routines and stay comfortable. But if an 85 year old can learn a thing or two, anyone can!
Be true to yourself
Above all, she was true to who she was as a person. Despite her numerous redeeming qualities, she had her faults – we all do.
However the thing I am most impressed by my Grandma was that, even though she was a proud woman – she knew her limitations.
She knew what her strengths and weaknesses were and was not afraid to reach out for help if she needed it.
She was also very direct, and for as long as I can remember called it like it is – when it is.
I think this honesty and integrity taught me from an early age that if you can look yourself in the mirror each night – and go to sleep with a clear conscience, then you’ve had a good day.
Some days are great, some are not – and some are downright shitty. But if you can stay true to yourself through it all, then you’ve lived a good life. That’s all anyone can ask for to be honest.
Her enduring legacy to me, her grandson is to live the life you want to live, not someone else’s. She survived two husbands, political and social upheaval, abject discrimination and prejudice, single motherhood and above all, raised two strong and upstanding children – what more can you do?
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