My Beloved Grandmother--Diana Zen
The loss of my beloved grandmother is one of the most life-changing event in my life.I always think of my grandmother more in December, her birthday month. I have heard that my grandfather was a man of dignified character. Sadly, he passed away before my birth and I did not have the privilege to personally know him. My grandparents had built a family legacy together on a solid foundation of traditions, morality and ethics . Thus, my family clan was able to stay firmly grounded and intact through thick and thin of life. My grandmother was our family matriarch and a grand dame. She made many personal sacrifices during the hard times and kept the family intact through the dark times. She was a steel-willed, intelligent, revolutionary woman who was ahead of her time and was without a doubt one of the original feminist. I miss her dearly.
I remember visiting her almost daily while she was in the hospital and then afterward at the nursing home during her final months. Her illness gave me a reality check about the fragility of life, the essentiality of compassion, and the importance of living life meaningfully.
It all happened quickly. In a span of a few months, after she was diagnosed, my grandmother was gone. She received the best possible care until the very end. She never had to suffer. She was constantly surrounded by her loved ones. All her personal sacrifices on behalf of the family was not lost upon her love ones. She was much loved and respected by the clan. I knew that the end was fated. Nevertheless, one is never truly prepared for a loss of a love one. Human being are such fragile creatures. Life is so capricious and unpredictable.
I regretted that I could not make it in time to the hospital to be by her side in her final moments. I arrived about 15 minutes too late. I felt her presence in the room when I said my farewells. She visited me in my dreams, never spoke a word, but I felt her love. I know she will always love me.
I have never really visited a nursing home, until my grandmother became gravely ill and needed 24 hours care. My grandmother was very fortunate to have been in such great nursing home with full amenities and a professional staff. My uncle was her personal physician until the very end and oversaw her every need.She could not have been under better care. I have a large loving family and my grandmother always had visitors and never had to feel alone. All the love and sacrifices she made was neither in vain nor lost her love ones. She was much more lucky than the other residents at the nursing home. I remember passing the other rooms as I came to hers and seeing the other residents in their rooms. I felt sad when I see the loneliness and despair in their eyes. Whenever possible, I would make efforts to say "hello" and briefly chat with them so they would not feel forgotten nor alone. Toward the end of life, the loss of physical capabilities to live independently and the wait for the inevitable is a cruel existence, unless there is faith to guide one toward inner peace and acceptance and easing the anxiety of what is to come.
All the struggles to get ahead, to achieve material things are meaningless in the end. The value of a person is not measured by materialistic gains or haves. I see people often blinded to the fated end and continue to misplace their values and waste their limited lifetime. Mistakenly, people cheapen their self-worth by appraising themselves by their materialistic achievements, rather than measuring their self-worth based on humanitarian and spiritual achievements.
I was one of the first people to arrive at the mortuary for my grandmother's funeral. The setup was not yet completed. It was strange to see my grandmother fully dressed in her finest, lifeless, and laying on a stainless-steel wheeled table. It was both shocking and odd to see her lay there as-if asleep and not yet was placed into the coffin for viewing. Physically, that was all that remained. I really felt the truth of "you can't take it with you." No matter the wealth and riches, in the end, all material things are non-essential and irrelevant. Many people fondly remembered my grandmother and came to pay their final respects. Her funeral was beautiful and dignified and reflective of my grandmother as she was. Ultimately, my grandmother was remembered for her character, her kindness, and her love for others. It made me see that only thing that really matter is leaving behind a legacy of sincere love and kindness to others.
My grandmother was buried that afternoon. I remembered the prayers that was read during the ceremony. I prayed for her soul to be free, to move onward and forward onto a new existence. The prayers had much poignance. It spoke to the newly deceased about the need of letting-go of the past, the attachments, and encouraged the deceased to move forward with wisdom and compassion. One of the wording in the prayer really stuck with me. The prayer addressed the soul as the "essence of a being," since the soul was no longer defined by the confine of the physical form. It made me think about the essence of myself...who is the real me?
No one is immune to aging, disease, or death. The nature of time is to not be on our side. Yet, we often let ourselves be easily distracted by trivial matters and forget to appreciate and experience aliveness. We take for granted our gift of life. We forget to use the human experience wisely during the period when we still have the physical and mental faculty to learn, practice, evolve into an intrinsically virtuous being. Why should we not aim lofty to unlock the full potential within then venture into the world to make a positive impact on others. I believe we have an obligation to pull one another from the quicksand of self-imposed boundaries and make-better each life we encounter. There is nothing random in life. We will eventually pick the fruits from the seeds that we planted.
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