Goodbye to a matriarch

This afternoon, we received the sad news that Chris’s paternal grandma had passed away at age 92. Last year, she celebrated her 91st birthday, and about 20 years of living independently on her own in the house she once shared with her husband, who died in 2000 from cancer. Shortly after that, she suffered a fall at home and decided the time had finally come to move out of this home and into an aging care facility. She seemed to have been in good spirits about it all, and from photos we’d seen, she looked to be in relatively good health. But in the last couple of days, she had been hospitalized for a high fluid build-up, shortness of breath, and extreme fatigue. Her heart has a leaky valve, and so the doctors said she needed hospital care. Despite her fluid levels decreasing and her breathing becoming more easy, she didn’t make it. And after requesting a shower, she peacefully passed away on a chair in there, with the nurses finding her.

It is sad that this global pandemic prevented us from seeing her last year. It’s sad that she wasn’t able to see a lot of her loved ones as often as she would’ve liked last year due to COVID-19. Chris always said that each time he saw Nana, he feared it may be the last time he’d ever see her. And in December 2019, it really was the last time we’d ever see her in person again.

Since first visiting Australia with Chris in 2012, I’d seen Nana nearly every year, with the exception of 2017 when we went to Hamilton Island for a cousin’s wedding, and 2020, when we were prevented from going back due to the global pandemic. Every year, I marveled at how healthy, happy, and alert she seemed. Despite her advanced age, she was always so sharp. She knew where the smallest and most insignificant things were in her house. She shared very detailed memories from Malaysia and her time adjusting to living in Australia. She still cooked and cleaned and gardened. She had the help of a family friend nearby, plus all her family. She was fortunate and blessed enough in her 92 years to live in three different countries, raise three children, who each had their own children, and some of those children were able to give her great-grandchildren. She lived a full and happy life and was always so positive. She’s definitely an inspiration not just to her family and friends, but to those who knew her. Every time I saw her, I thought, wow. If I could grow old to her age and feel that accomplished and loved and full of life, I think that will be a life well lived.

I’m sad that this little baby that is growing in my body will never be able to meet Big Nana, and that Big Nana will never have the chance to meet her. But I know for sure that Nana has left quite a legacy behind that this future child will hear plenty about.

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