Death of a Grandmother

  Story by Simon Nguyen
My grandmother came to live with us when I was six years old. My family was pretty excited about Grandma moving in. No one was more thrilled than my sister. She was my grandmother’s favorite; most of her fancy clothes were given to her by Grandma.

I too was eager to meet her. I had met Grandma several times in the past, but those encounters merely involved the usual hugging and pinching on the cheek – the type of loving tenderness shown by the typical grandmother. I had never actually had a chance to get to know my grandmother. What does she like and dislike? What was she like when she was young? There were so many questions I wished I could ask her.

I had heard several accounts regarding my grandmother’s past. She was born into a wealthy family; people courteously referred to her as “Milady”. Grandma was the most beautiful lady in town. She actually drew crowds of curious spectators every time she ventured out onto the street. When she celebrated her 16th birthday, her father threw a huge birthday bash for her. The lavish event made a huge splash at the time; some of my older relatives could still recall the extravagance of the occasion.

Sadly, the family’s fortune would steadily decline soon after. Setbacks and huge business losses cut the family’s fortune in half. Facing serious financial difficulties, her father received numerous offers of assistance from wealthy suitors of his daughter – in exchange for Grandma’s hands in marriage. But he turned them all down. My great grandfather really loved his daughter; he would rather lose all his possessions than to force his daughter to marry someone she might not like.

When Grandma moved in with us, she was suffering from a serious depression. My grandfather had died only weeks before; she still hadn’t fully recovered from his death. Wear and tear was visible in her eyes. She was fighting an internal battle – one that had isolated her from the outside world. Grandma would spend the next several months not venturing out of her room. She expended most of her day seating by the rear window almost statue-like. Everything around her appeared to have come to a standstill. I really regretted not having a camera to capture such a moment. It was something I would never forget.

Two months after Grandma came to live with us, she became gravely ill. She experienced non-stop coughing. During Grandma’s illness, my mother spent countless days and nights at her bedside tending to her every need. I have always admired my mother for her selfless dedication to her family, but the great devotion she showed for Grandma was truly beyond descriptions. It was a devotion of the purest form.

Grandma’s health continued to deteriorate. I was awakened one night by the loudest round of coughing I have ever heard. An ominous feeling consumed my mind. I sprinted as quickly as I could to Grandma’s room. What I saw was simply heart-breaking. My grandmother was lying frailly on her bed with the mattress and pillow soaked with blood. My mother was sitting nearby, helpless and overwhelmed by emotions. Shortly after, an ambulance came and transported Grandma to the hospital.

My grandmother was released from the hospital a week later. Considering the gravity of her condition before the hospitalization, my grandmother’s recovery was nothing less than a miracle. One doctor even jokingly suggested that she might have been pulled out from the gate of death by her guardian angel.

Not only her health seemed to be improving, Grandma appeared to have regained the belief in life that had disappeared following Grandpa’s death. She was as energetic as ever! The wall that had been separating my grandmother from the rest of the family quickly collapsed. Grandma would become very active in our family’s activities. She also spent a lot of time traveling the country and visiting old friends.

As my 7th birthday was quickly approaching, Grandma really went out of her way to make sure my birthday celebration one to remember. The decorations were spectacular and the food was just incomparable. She even personally crafted a stunning birthday cake just for me.

Words alone could not do justice in describing what a marvelous cake it was. Everyone was so reluctant to consume the cake; it was a true masterpiece. I was touched by her relentless effort to make my 7th birthday as perfect as it could be. Grandma was truly a wonderful human being.

My grandmother died three years after she came to live with us. She left the world in the most peaceful way possible. She passed away in her sleep, exempted from the pain and agony of death.

A butterfly came into my house about a week ago. She has been lingering inside the house for a whole week now. Coincidentally, this week marks an anniversary of my grandmother’s death. Although I am not a believer in the metamorphosis of spirits, the butterfly might just be another reminder that life is precious. Live it to the fullest!


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