Since my last post, things got better and then they suddenly became the worst. Paw Paw (my granny) fought hard, and in the first 3 weeks of my stay, made incredible improvements – so much so that she was discharged and able to go home (albeit needing serious physical therapy if she were to be fully mobile again). But notwithstanding this almost miraculous recovery, her time was her time, and Paw Paw went to sleep one morning shortly after she got home, and did not wake up.
Paw Paw was around 90. I say “around” because many Chinese from her generation weren’t exactly sure what year they were born, and on top of that, they often altered their birth years when they came to the US (for older folks – they became younger, to be more appealing to the immigration authorities; and for those too young to work, they became older to be of age to find work).
She lived an incredible life – coming from rural farmland in China, where she and her young widow of a mother were antagonized for owning a bit of land and a cow, to post-WW II Hong Kong, to NY’s Chinatown, where one of their apartments burned down, to owning her very own 2-family house in Queens. She once did not have any running water, but by the time of her death, experienced plenty of interesting enjoyable technologies. (I’ll never forget when she figured out that the talking screen in the car (i.e., the GPS) was giving us directions on long road trips,)
Paw Paw was always so loving and selfless. I miss her so much, and know that she was the last of her kind in our family – the pre-WWII, Toisan dialect-speaking, uneducated (she only got to third grade) but hard-working type. She was very devout in her ancestor worship and committed to Confucian values. She may have not learned much English at all, and yet she understood me and my predominantly English speaking sisters incredibly well.
I was always afraid of losing her while abroad, and always hoped I’d be home again before we lost her forever. I’d wanted to live with her in the 2-family house she owned, and now that will never happen. I hoped I could make up for all the lost time.
Now she’s gone. I miss her sayings, I miss her laugh. I miss her superstitious worries, I miss her love of animals, I miss her just so much.
Paw Paw still lives on in us. I just wish there could have been more laughs, more celebrations, and more memories together.