Tuesday, August 5, 2008
hit the pause button
One of the highlights of my family's visit is my 94-year-old grandmother. Isn't she beautiful?
At 17, she was a beauty queen. At 94, after trips to Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore, and finally the United States, she was deservingly nicknamed Mrs. Grandma International 2008. And she even said she still wants to go to Rome. She was definitely bitten by the travel bug.
After not seeing her for a few years, I have to admit it took some adjustment for me to accept the changes in her. Sometimes she doesn't remember me. Sometimes she doesn't know my name. During those weeks that she stayed with me, sometimes she doesn't know where she is and whose house she is staying in, although she does know for certain that she's in America.
In some moments, however, the sparkle in her eye comes back. An almost naughty sparkle, in fact, as she starts giving me advice about marriage (despite how far it is from my mind right now). She looks at me with certainty as she goes through her mental list of "qualities to look for in a man", counting them off with her fingers. And when she does have that look of recognition in her face, when she is lively, alert, and witty, I wish there were a "pause" button I could hit.
One thing is certain though -- all her life she's been one tough cookie. A phenomenal woman, indeed. She lived through World War II and took care of everyone and everything when my grandfather was away. She learned to make do with whatever she had, while still making sure there was enough to go around for the large family - to include cousins, aunts and uncles -- enough to always offer anyone to come and eat, and insisting at least 3 more times that you do so (for those of you who know me, now you know from whom I inherited this practice). She saved everything -- she exemplified a "waste not, want not" way of living. In my grandmother's life, green living is not new. (In fact, I first learned about washing and re-using Zip-lock bags from her, years and years ago.)
Now, she doesn't have to worry about any of that. She does as she pleases. She listens to her body. She sleeps when she has to, eats when she has to. She eats ice cream whenever she wants. She hits the "pause" button. She stops -- truly stops -- to smell the flowers.