My grandma and I are incredibly close. Well, I call her nana. She lives in Beijing with grandpa and our dog Lele.
Nana is probably one of the most positive women I know. At age 84 she’s healthy, happy, and eats like a horse. Her biggest secret to a good life is to not take things too seriously. All the problems, obstacles, and insecurities never faze her. To put it more bluntly, she gives no shit.
10 years ago my dad had a major thyroid surgery due to a suspicious lump on his neck. I remember the night before surgery my mom and aunts were too preoccupied to do anything. But nana though, played Mahjong like a boss and slept like a baby. This was before we found out that my dad’s tumor was benign.
Being as old as her losing friends to the cycle of life is no news. While this can give other grandmas major anxiety, my nana never seems to be bothered. “…Oh btw Wang nana from building 16 is dead.” She casually mentions, “hey you want more vinegar with your dumplings?” Some might think that this is her coping mechanism. But I know that’s just the way she operates. She’s just genuinely that light-hearted about life and death, something I always find admirable about that woman.
The last time I visited her in Beijing was Thanksgiving. It was strange, for the first time in my life I felt some serious negative energy in nana. Sorrow. That’s what it was. It was this pure, lucid sadness, rebelling against her personality. She told me my grandpa’s healthy condition had been making it difficult for her to be optimistic. Every time he gets sick she feels scared. Her and my grandpa met in elementary school and have been married for almost 70 years. If that’s not partners of a life time I don’t know what is. And I guess the fear of losing your soulmate is enough to change anybody.
Leaving her last month was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. As I was walking to the car, I looked back and saw nana’s cute little asian fro sticking out of the sixth floor window, my heart broke into pieces. She was looking at me, waving, as if this was the very last time.
At this moment, I’m typing, trying to figure out the perfect summary to end my story. Didn’t really have a concrete idea when I started but was hoping to find it along the way. I guess what I’m trying to say is, anybody’s motto can be changed for the people they love.
In the end, love and fear come in one powerful package.