We were never close. No, they made sure to draw the line upon their first disapproval of our little family. Of her. But gradually, he opened his heart and accepted us as his granddaughters. Despite that, I always only saw him once a year; twice or thrice, if there’s a special occasion during the year. His wise words were those of the typical elderly – “Study hard, build your future. Education is very important. Don’t give up halfway.”
One distinct memory I will always have of him would be that one afternoon, about 7 years ago, while we were sitting at a cafe near Arab Street, and who did we see walking towards us? My paternal grand dad – or my Atok, if I were to make this more personal – struttin’ down the sidewalk in his gold-rimmed vintage Ray Bans, his hand clutching his walking cane; keep in mind that at this point, he was 83 years old and he was still as healthy as an ox, not even limping the slightest bit.
That’s one thing amazing about him – I always remembered him as being active. Always taking walks by himself, disregarding my aunt’s and uncles’ pleas for him not to; doing his prayers standing up, despite his weak knees & back.. He did all this up to the ripe old age of his mid-eighties.
Do I regret not getting to know him better? A little, maybe. Not that I was close to any of my grandfathers, not even my maternal one; somehow they both had disappointed me with something they’ve done – not that I kept a grudge, just that there’s always been a buffer zone that was created since an age I can’t remember.
But family issues aside, he was my last living grandfather. And despite having the Grim Reaper brush past me so many times, death and the grief that comes with it never fails to tear that hole in the heart even bigger every time.
May he rest in peace.
Pax et amor,
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