Yesterday marked the fifth death anniversary of a great and loving man- my beloved grandfather, whose life touched many. Though he has left us for many years, he has always remained in our hearts and he always will. His sudden departure five years back left us all in complete shock, leaving our hearts to ache greatly. As I stopped to reminisce about the past and take a trip down memory lane, tears welled up in my eyes when I thought of all the sacrifices he made for us and the great love he had shown to all.
Grey-haired, with tanned skin and a huge, round belly- my grandfather was one giving and selfless man, who found contentment though leading a simple life. He was frugal and spent little on himself but was extremely generous when it comes to his family. He always put his family before himself; he never did things purely for his own benefit. He loved us all very much- his grandchildren especially, whom he pampered so much. He was immensely kind, patient and sincere. He had a fond love for animals, and I remembered how lovingly he reared those fishes and birds. He had the best comic timing ever and a great sense of humour, often brightening up our days with hilarious jokes. Above all, he gave his love freely. But sadly, we failed to realise all of these until after he passed away because all of us took him for granted.
I was brought up by my grandparents because my parents were busy at work and could spare little time to look after us. As a result, I became closer to my grandpa and grandma and with them I shared a stronger bond than with my parents, whom I saw only during the weekends. My grandparents pampered us very much and spoilt each and every one of us grandchildren. When we screamed for fried rice, my grandmother would lovingly accede to our request and very soon you would hear the "clink-clank" of her ladle hitting against the wok and minutes later, plates of delicious fried rice would be placed right before us. When we demanded to go to the playground downstairs every evening, my grandfather would immediately see to fulfilling our request and the next moment, he would be holding our little hands and taking us to where those colourful slides, swings and see-saws were. That was how much they doted on us, especially my grandfather (since he was able to spend more time with us as my grandmother was physically weaker). My grandfather never splurged on himself but when it comes to his grandchildren, he had absolutely no qualms about spending his money. Every evening, he would bring us to the convenience mart nearby where we would happily take our pick on the candies and toys we liked. He would patiently sit on the bench and watch us while we played ‘catching' and sat on the see-saw and went on the merry-go-round after dinner daily. He was also the one who brought me to school everyday, helping me carry my heavy school bag and holding my little hand as we walked to school under the blistering sun. He was always there to listen to me when I told him of my adventures in school and the things I learnt during Mathematics lessons. He was also there when I was down, providing me with the much-needed comfort. He was also present to share my joys and laughter. He was simply such a wonderful grandfather who loved us all so much.
When I was eight, my parents decided that my brother and I moved to live with them in their newly-bought flat. When I found out about it and realised it would mean only being able to see my grandparents during the weekends, I locked myself in my room and cried my heart out for a whole night. I was extremely saddened and I could not bear to leave my grandparents although I loved my parents very much too. It was just this bond I shared with my grandparents that was so precious to me, that made me so reluctant and unwilling to leave them. I even voiced my disapproval to my mother but unfortunately, my parents' decision was final and eventually I moved to lived with them. Although I knew that I would be staying with my parents permanently, it never stopped me from hoping and believing that someday I might be able to move back and live with my grandparents again- that was the birthday wish I made before I blew out the candles on my 9th birthday.
When I was nine, I had to stay back after school frequently for lessons and there were no school buses available at those hours to ferry me back home. My parents did not support the idea of letting me take the public bus home by myself since they were concerned for my safety. My grandpa stepped in and he volunteered to travel all the way from his home to my school just to pick me up and bring me home as he too was worried for my safety. Although his health was not very good and his legs were no longer as strong as before, or that the journey from his home to my school took one hour, he still patiently came to pick me up from my school day after day. Seeing him at the end of the day after lessons was the highlight of my long days at school. He would greet me with cheerfulness and enquire about my well-being, before presenting to me a packet of those finger foods lovingly prepared by my grandmother. When I was safely back at home, I would quickly rush to the window, waving and screaming "good-bye" to him, at the same time trying to hide my tears and the great pain I felt on seeing him leave. As I was reasonably young, I could not fully understand those things my grandpa did for me, whether it was coming all the way to fetch me or splurging on us, but I knew he did all of that because he loved me very much and I greatly appreciated and was touched by everything he did. I promised myself that when I grow up; I will be filial towards him and take care of him, as my way of saying "thank you" for all the sacrifices he had made for me and for all the love he had showered on me. I wanted to let him know how grateful I am for everything he had done for me and to make known to him what a great grandpa he is to me. But sadly, I never got the chance to do so.
During the year when I was 10, I overheard those conversations that the adults were having and how they were all looked so solemn yet pained whenever they talked about my grandfather. I discovered through those conversations that my grandfather had been suddenly diagnosed with cancer and even operation meant little chances of him surviving. I was so shocked when I realised about the seriousness of my grandfather's condition. I felt extremely lost and miserable, and I was totally afraid of losing him. Though death an aspect of life I could not fully understand at that time, I knew that there was a chance that my grandfather would succumb to his illness- and that knowledge made very sad. As I was busy with my academics, I could hardly find the time to visit my ailing grandpa in the hospital. Every time we visited him at the hospital, the adults would be quietly crying, fighting hard to hide their tears because they knew my grandfather might not win the battle against his illness. From the expression on their faces, my younger cousins and I understood the severity of my grandpa's condition, even if we didn't show it. My grandfather, however weak he was, told us in his parting words, "Be good, obey your parents and study hard." To that my heart ached terribly and I felt as if I had been stabbed right in my heart. That was about the last time he spoke to us.
On the day before he passed away, we brought him back from the hospital as we wanted to spend more time with him knowing that time was running out for my grandpa. He lied down on the mattress in the living room with all his children by his side. Whenever I glanced at him, seeing him looking very weak and pale and the state he was in, my eyes would be glistening with unshed tears and my heart filled with immense grief. Each time I walked past and looked at him, he seemed very much to want to speak to me, but he couldn't gather sufficient strength to do so. It really pained me to see my grandpa, someone whom I loved dearly and so much, to be stricken with such a cruel illness. I prayed fervently day and night, hoping that God would answer my prayers and let grandpa become well again. The next day, an adult came to my cousins and I with eyes so red and with tears in her eyes, and I knew at once my grandfather had left us. We were all overwhelmed with the grief and pain of losing a loved one, and one who loved us so much. Yet what really saddened me was that I never got the opportunity to thank my grandpa for everything he did for me. Apart from the grief, pain and sorrow that filled my heart, I felt extremely regretful because I never once told him how much I loved him and the gratitude I felt towards him for everything that he had done for us all these years.
Though time has gone by and he is no longer with us, I am certain he still lives in us. I know that he will be watching over us and guiding us from wherever he might be.
Grandpa, thank you very much for everything that you did for me and for the love you gave so freely. I want you to know that you're the best grandfather one could ever have and we'll always remember you. Though you're no longer with us, I'll always keep those fond memories of those happy times we spent together close to my heart. Grandpa, I love you.