Do we know when it is time for us to go?

Valentines Day, a day to celebrate with the ones we love, the day to acknowledge the love we hold for the special people in our lives… the day I will remember more poignantly.  On February 14th, I found out my grandmother passed away.  I was at work and as usual at the end of the day, I would check my phone messages and there was a message from my brother or my sister, I can’t even remember who called me first,but it didn’t matter. When I called them they asked me if I had talk to my mother today and I said no and asked them why.  Then they told me that our cousin from Laos called in the morning to tell  our mom that grandmother passed away. I sat there half listening, dreading but anxious to hear what my brother was trying to tell me. When he said, “Grandmother passed away” I could feel myself mentally detaching myself from the situation in a vain attempt to ignore what he was saying. I didn’t cry, I just sat there in my classroom thinking, I can’t break down now because I’m still at work, I still have to get through the rest of the evening helping my club members with the fundraiser I was in charge of. What I was trying to do was pretend that it was just another ordinary day, not the day I found out my grandmother passed.

It was not until 10:00 that night that I was  able to make myself call my mother. I was avoiding that phone call because I didn’t know what I was going to say to her, telling her I was sorry for her loss seemed inadequate  to express my grief and sorrow that my grandmother was gone.

The first thing I said to  mother on the phone was, ” I don’t understand how grandmother passed when we were told by  our cousin that she was sick a couple of days ago, but was feeling better!”  I didn’t even give her a chance to say anything before I cried angrily ,”how could my grandmother be dead?” My mom let me cried and told me the story.  My mother said she believed that grandmother’s spirit (kwan) had visited her a couple of days before she actually passed away.  My mother said she was in the living room watching T.V. when she heard a cup fall off the counter and crashed on the floor.  When she went into the kitchen she saw the broken cup on the floor and couldn’t understand how it happened since there was no wind or any reason for it to fall.  My mother said at the time she didn’t understand, but after she got that phone call she knew why the cup fell, she said she believed her mother’s spirit had come to say goodbye to her. 

I was so shocked by my grandmother’s death because it was abrupt, I knew she had problems with her blood pressure and she suffered from the first stage of alheimezer’s disease but our cousin had reassure us that all was well.

My siblings and I had just given my mother money to wire to my cousin for my grandmother’s care and medicine the week she died.  My mother western union the money to Walmart in Laos, and my cousin went to get it and take it to my grandmother on the day she died.  On the day she died, my cousin told my mom that my grandmother was just telling him how happy and lucky she was that her grandkids still remembers her. They were all suppose to go to the Wat that day, but my grandmother told my cousin and his wife to go ahead and say a prayer of thanks to Buddha for her while she rested.  My cousin’s wife told her after the Wat she was going to bring my grandmother food. When my cousin’s wife went to check on my grandmother, my grandmother had passed away in her sleep. 

Looking back on the week prior to my grandmother’s death, my mother believes that my grandmother knew that she was going to die and was trying to take care of everything before she passed including her own funeral.  My mother says she believes that my grandmother had called to ask for money not to pay for medicine, but that she knew she was going to die and had asked for money so it can be used for the funeral.  The five hundred we sent for my grandmother’s care and medicine ended up  paying for her funeral. My mother told my cousin to use that money to give my grandmother a burial and funeral vigil that will show everybody how much we love her.  We sent my cousin more money for the boun in honor of my grandmother.

My mother said she was grateful that she got to talk to my grandmother that week before she died.  My mother said that my grandmother had asked for us by names and asked how we were doing.  She also reminded me to make sure that I ask my grandmother’s spirit to protect me and look over me. When I got off the phone with my mom, I pretended that my grandmother was there in my bedroom with me, and told her how much I love and miss her and how I will always remember her.  Two days later I dream of my grandmother in Laos as I remember her.  I told my mother of the dream I had of my grandmother, and she said she wished my grandmother would visit her in her dreams.

My grandmother is gone, but not forgotten. She will always be a part of me, her strength as a woman, her unconditional love.

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