Challenge, Family, Issue 21

Three Weeks At Grandma’s

Three Weeks At Grandma’s

CHALLENGE RULES

  1. For 3 weeks, visit your grandparents once a week for 2 hours or more.
  2. Note down your aim for each visit. For example, to find out more about their childhood, to listen patiently when they share, or to learn how to cook a simple dish from them etc.
  3. Record thoughts and feelings before and after each visit.
  4. Have fun!

Challenger: CHERYL WEE, 19

Fun Facts:
1. Tea-lover; has a huge weakness for green tea
2. Enjoys watching Youtube
3. Has a unique habit of crafting weird words and phrases (E.g. calling broccoli “brocs”)

INITIAL THOUGHTS

My grandmother is an extremely outgoing, active and generous woman. Ahma expresses her love to her children and grandchildren alike with our favourite foods, and frequently lugs bags of huge ripened fruits to our house whenever she visits. While I see her almost every Sunday, I find it difficult to hold a conversation with her. I was apprehensive when I received this challenge as Ahma and I have never been close! I am going to call Ahma today to inform her of this challenge and the photoshoot we will have together. I feel extremely nervous because I do not know if she will agree to it. This is also one of my first ‘official’ phone calls to her in a really long time.

UPDATE: I just called her and she has gladly said yes! I’m shocked at how happy and excited I feel! Perhaps, it was how readily Ahma said yes. It was such a dear moment hearing her try to hide her excitement of being in a photoshoot and a part of a challenge for a magazine! I already feel a little bit closer to her just through a phone call.

Week 1
I felt extremely nervous on my way to her house as this was my first time initiating a visit to her place! Surprisingly, the visit went well and we talked quite a bit! I shared with her the University courses I was interested to take while she shared her opinions. This conversation dispelled my preconceived notions about us not having common topics to talk about. She suggested that I study Pharmacy in University as she has heard good things about it. Though I am not exactly interested in it, hearing her share her knowledge with such excitement and gusto was heartwarming! I hope to have more of such conversations with her.

Week 2
Honestly, I still can’t get used to the idea of visiting her. It still feels pretty weird and awkward to me since this is something I don’t do regularly. Today, my uncle’s and my family joined me for a Sunday lunch with Ahma. I tried to be intentional in relating to Ahma by sitting beside her and trying to include her in the conversations. Each time I realised that she was slightly lost at the conversations in English, I tried to explain in Chinese or give her some context. During lunch, I felt extremely touched when she told me to have more of the fish she bought and fried, and how happy she was when I told her that her cooking was amazing. After lunch, I took the opportunity to chat more with Ahma. I asked her how she cooked the fish — she was so excited to tell me all about it. Also, my grandmother was still pretty insistent that I consider Pharmacy (haha).

Week 3
To be very honest, today’s visit was a struggle for me. I had woken up early and was still recovering from a flu bug that made me very lethargic, so I contemplated not going. However, Ahma’s place is undergoing some renovation, so my dad, brother, and I went to help her with the manual labour. On the way there, I decided to buy some kueh from Bengawan Solo since she always buys us food and kueh seems to be something she enjoys! It was a memorable visit because it was the first time I got to “work together” with Ahma! It was super cute to see her in action — it was a side of her that I had never seen before. When I went to the kitchen to get the kueh, Ahma was shocked! She looked at me and said: “这个是给我的阿? 哎哟 谢谢阿!” (“Is this for me? Aiyo, thank you!”) It warmed my heart tremendously. I realised today that time is really passing by so quickly and that my grandma is no longer as strong as before. She couldn’t handle cleaning up as often as before and she commented “我老了沒有力了” (“I am old and lack energy”). It felt nostalgic because I used to help her clean the house when I was a young child.

FINAL THOUGHTS

This challenge has helped me to look for opportunities to interact with my Ahma and from here on, I hope that I can continue to be intentional about speaking with her and visiting her. I also hope to be more involved in her life. At the heart of all these actions, I just want to show her that I love her! My biggest learning point would be the importance of being intentional in relating to my Ahma. Though my Ahma and I see each other weekly, I realized that it was a choice on my part as to whether or not I wanted to meaningfully engage with her. While I am busy growing up, I have forgotten that my grandmother too is growing older and I know little about her. I’ve learnt to be patient amidst frustrations when relating and conversing with her, but I’ve also learnt to better understand the good intentions behind her every nag!

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