Tuesday, December 15, 2009

how does it feel to wait to die?

My grandma had a stroke 2 years ago, which rendered her in a invalid state, she could hardly speak nor move any more. Before the stroke, she was already quite sickly, so the family hired a maid to take care of her every move. Thank god for Lily, she is a friendly, optimistic and hardworking maid. Over the years, she became the lifeline of grandma, because most of us are always busy working. She was our interpreter because she could read grandma's every whimper and every twitch of her left hand. Unlike The Diving Bell and The Butterfly, we didn't gp as far as to devise a communication system for grandma, much less to write a book. We should be ashamed. 

It is a lonely state as a stroke patient. Your mind is aware of everything, but you are trapped in your own thoughts without any means of expression. To me, it is a state worse than death. I would choose euthanasia, and this is scary because it is illegal in Singapore, and i would have chosen that.

Last week, grandma took a turn for the worse. She had a blood clog in one of her artilleries, which is life-threatening. And the doctor advised against any surgery as it would be too much for her to take. They can only prescribe medicine to ease her pain. 

We took turns to visit grandma at the hospital, and all we could do is to stand around and everyone is silent except Lily who will be updating us on what grandma did that day, or how she is feeling. Occasionally we took turns to hold grandma's hand, and she would just look at you. Those eyes were calm but sad. I held back my tears and as i listened to Lily in the background talking jovially that grandma is happy to see us and she is in good spirits today, it made me want to hit myself with a brick. 

When we were young, we used to stay over every weekend at grandma's place, and she would take us out for walks, buy us any tidbits we want, cooked dinner for us, occasionally teaching us a few words in Thai and laughing at us when we pronounced badly.

Grandma came from a family of goldsmiths in Thailand, a pretty wealthy family. She was the youngest of 3 sisters, but she left the family for love. I was told that she eloped with Grandpa, who was a sailor from China. The family was so angry they apparently disowned her for a while, so my mum told me. She was a tyrant mum, as my mum described, because she wasn't used to doing housework, so my mum and my 2nd auntie became the housekeepers since they were young. But grandma always pampered us, all her grandchildren. A weekend at grandma's place was always like a holiday. She would cook us the best food she can and allow us to watch video tapes all night long, something we don't get to do at home .. much, except for term breaks.

My mum and all my aunties and uncles still addressed her as "mek", which is "mother" in Thai. My generation almost completely lost touch with our Thai relatives. Sometimes i wonder who these aunties, uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews that I have in Bangkok whom i will never meet. Sometimes i hope that one day I will meet them all. It is a sad cliche, but if i run into one of them on the street, i really wouldn't even know.

Grandma lies there, occasionally falling asleep probably due to the strong painkillers. But when she opens her eyes she will stare intently at each of us, intermittently, as we stand helpless and useless in front of her. She can never ever tell her story again. And we will live, wondering about the story of grandma. 

Grandma lies there, her eyes tell us that she knows that she is dying. And we stand helpless and useless in front of her. She tells us it is ok. And i hit myself with a brick. I still cannot feel her real pain.

No comments:

Post a Comment