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A writer for CLM Magazine and CLM Social Pages, Achelle is also an independent blogger, giving her two cents on personal and social issues from an educated Filipina's point of view, especially those relating to love and relationships. She has a knack for tackling issues from unique angles that are often left unexplored, posing questions that move and challenge readers to view a certain issue from a wholly different perspective. Achelle is happily engaged to her childhood sweetheart and is currently based in the Philippines. Achelle's writing is a delight to read and highly enlightening, entertaining and thought provoking. You're going to see lots of her on our Emagazine, Blogs, Social Pages and Hubs. Enjoy
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Love and Loss    

By Achelle Vinzon
2211 Views | 8 Comments | 3/15/2014 3:14:30 PM

Last February 28th was my grandmother’s first birthday after she passed away.  Many times before, I would take the lead in making preparations for her birthday celebration.  I would make sure everybody came – her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren – because I knew she was happiest when she saw her family together.  Family reunions were always a big deal to her because her children never got along; but like I have always said to those close to me, my grandmother was very lucky with the grandchildren she had.  We loved her dearly.  We more than made up for the shortcomings of her own children.



This year, as her birthday neared, she was in my thoughts more often than usual.  In keeping with our family tradition, I organized her birthday celebration.  I knew she would want all of us to have a happy celebration for her, instead of continuing to grieve her passing.  So through the pain and loss that I still felt, I took care of the preparations for what would have been her 88th birthday.   



All my cousins were very quick to respond and very willing to cooperate.  It wasn’t going to be a lavish party; we were just gonna get together, like we have always done every year for our grandmother’s birthday, for Mother’s Day, Christmas, New Year, and other special occasions.  We were going to eat, drink, sing, and be merry – just enjoying the familiar comfort of family. 



A few weeks before the 28th, another money issue caused another rift among her children.  I felt angry and I let them know I was angry.  I reminded them that their mother’s birthday was coming up, that they should set their differences aside, that all she ever wished for up until her final days was to see all her children get along with each other.  But they were too stubborn to listen.  So I told my cousins that we’re still going to make it happen.  The older adults can continue to fight amongst themselves and let the ill feelings they have for each other make them beg off and not attend their mother’s birthday celebration.  But we would continue the party with or without them. 



In the end, two of her children still attended and almost all the cousins and their children.  Each of us prepared or bought food for the event; those who were abroad also sent their share.  We rented a karaoke machine because it had always put a big smile on our grandmother’s face whenever she heard us sing.  She had two birthday cakes!  We all sang “Happy Birthday,” and had her youngest great-grandchild blow the candle.  Then we visited her where she was laid to rest; we took lots of photos with her; we sang “Happy Birthday” to her once again.  It was a very happy occasion.  I’m sure we made her very happy, wherever she is now. 



The night before, I waited until midnight so I could greet her a Happy Birthday.  I cried again, and for the first time since we buried her.  I miss her so much. 



I remembered my cousins and I spending our summers with her, how we would fall in line during lunch time because she spoon-fed all of us back then (feeding all of us that way made it easier for her, I guess).  And then she would let us play all day.  She would sew matching clothes for all of us, too.  Our clothes also often matched her curtains and pillow cases, but we loved them just the same.    



I remembered sitting with her whenever she sewed by hand small and intricate dresses for her Virgin Mary statue.  She did the complicated beadwork and embroidery herself.  It was amazing watching her work.  I remembered playing with all the multi-colored beads while she did the delicate work. 



I remembered how she never forgot to set aside a jar of sweet beans that she prepared herself for me every Christmas; it was my grandfather’s favorite and I was my grandfather’s favorite, and she knew I loved it, too.  I was the only who got to take home a jar. 



I remembered how she cried when I gave her an enlarged and framed photograph of my grandfather playing the violin as a Christmas gift.  It was my very first gift to her after I got my first job.  She made sure I got that violin after my grandfather passed away when I was seven; he had always said that he wanted me to have it, but some of their children (especially those from his first marriage, didn’t agree).  But she made sure his violin went to me.



I remembered how she gave me the most understanding and comforting smile when I showed up at her doorstep one day with a bruised eye.  She didn’t ask for details.  She simply welcomed me, gave me food, and let me stay with her. 



I remembered when she told me, with admiration in her voice, how brave I was for choosing to do things on my own again and to start from scratch as a single mother, after I decided to end a particularly disastrous relationship.  She was the only one who expressed admiration for that decision I made.        



I remembered taking care of her whenever she was sick and in the hospital, feeding her, cleaning her up, changing her diaper and clothes.  I remembered the love and gratitude that showed on her face.  I felt so grateful that I was able to do that for her.    



I remembered visiting her every single day when she was at the ICU, during those final days; holding her hand; whispering to her and comforting her.  The day before she passed, I remembered asking her if she wanted me to get her rosary, thinking that it would give her added comfort.  She was still aware when I laced it between her fingers, hours before she went into a coma.     



I cried for a long time.  I silently talked to her.  And like she had always done for me countless times before, she gave me comfort.    


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(Showing 1 to 8 of 8) 1
#2014-03-15 15:25:21 by JohnAbbot @JohnAbbot

Achelle, this is very touching, and also very enlightening as it reveals, I think, the depth of feeling Asian women have for their families. Love of parents and grandparents seems deeper and stronger than it does in the West, which I find to be very sad.

Your Grandmother sounds like a wonderful lady, and you were blessed to have her, and she you. Thanks for this, it made me pause to miss my own parents, and as usual, to wish I'd given them more of myself when they were alive.

#2014-03-15 17:39:32 by Barry1 @Barry1

@Achelle

"After showing signs of strength, my grandmother’s condition quickly deteriorated..... We watched her flat-line and get resuscitated; I stood and listened helplessly as her children made the impossible decision of finally letting her go...... I had to step up and sign her DNR form myself; her children couldn’t do it...... I found myself a quiet corner, tried my damnedest not to lose it completely, whispered “I’m sorry” over and over, and got it done and over with. I did it for my beloved grandmother; she needed us to let her go."

I'll never forget your blog article of last November where you so poignantly described the passing of your grandmother. With your cognisance, I'll repeat here some words that I said to you back then.

"I'm sorry for the passing of your grandmother. Looking at her photo gave me an impression she was a fine lady who has without doubt, left a marvelous legacy of kindness and good works here on Earth.

It's said that people living deeply with honour, compassion and respect toward others have no fear of death. I definitely feel this was the case with your grandmother. So signing of the DNR form was a blessing for her, something you should feel absolutely no qualms about. I'm sure your souls will reunite together one day, of this I'm certain."

Thomas Moore once said,

"From my body, flowers shall grow and I am in them, and that is eternity."

In similar fashion, the beautiful, vivid memories of being with your grandmother also is a form of eternity. You'll never forget her, no matter how long lived is your life - she'll exist forever within you, she'll always be with you.

Your grandmother has also given you another gift. Through her passing, she's imbued you with a greater appreciation for life. The pain you feel is akin to a hard shell that must be shattered and experienced in order to reveal the critical contents within it - that of a more profound understanding of this existance.

Without life, there is no death. And without death, there is no life. One cannot have one, without the other.

Please Achelle, do not grieve. You should in fact be celebrating. Celebrating your life and that of your child; celebrating the wonderful times you had with your grandmother; celebrating the invaluable gifts that she passed onto you, such as lessons in kindness and compassion; laughter and tears; heartmake and heartbreak. Celebrating what once was, and what is to come. And yes, celebrating the fact that through her sad passing, you've become a wiser, smarter, more empathic and in tune person than ever before.

Your grandmother has given you so many gifts. And with the marvellous memories and resurgent recollections you have in your head of her, there are many more yet to come.

Many sincere blessings to you and your family, Achelle. You're indeed a sweet child of the universe. You have every right to be here. You have every right to be happy.

And you will be.

#2014-03-15 19:56:08 by Grace172 @Grace172

"I remembered visiting her every single day when she was at the ICU, during those final days; holding her hand; whispering to her and comforting her. ... She was still aware when I laced it between her fingers, hours before she went into a coma."
I can understand your feeling.
It remind me the last night I was accompanying with my dear mother in the hospital 12years ago. My mother had been in coma for a few days. It was midnight, it was my turn to replace my father to go to the hospital to accompany with her. I hold her hand and wisper to her even though she might not hear or clear what I said, I said, "My dearist mom, I know you are suffering a huge pain, if you want to go, then please go relievedly. I will take good care of father and my daughter. .... suddenly I saw the heart rate monitors showed a line. Even though we have prepare to accept this would happen any moment, but when it happened, when I alone saw my mother pass away, I really lost my mind. That was a terrible sad time in my life. 12 years pass. I still feel sad and cry every Mother's day and my birthday. I miss her too much!

#2014-03-15 20:48:37 by Imi5922 @Imi5922

Achelle, you've expressed the special bond between you and your grandmother in a very beautiful way in this article. I think she died happy knowing that you were there for her in her last moment.

#2014-03-16 06:51:19 by bmccull @bmccull

A very moving account. Thanks for sharing.

#2014-03-16 21:01:37 by Chinainterest4 @Chinainterest4

Achelle,
I have never commented on any blog. This was so heart felt and beautifully written that I had to. Your grandmother was as fortunate to have you in her life as you were to have her in yours. You both showed through your acts of kindness the true goodness that can be in the hearts of people.

#2014-03-17 14:52:05 by ferlo @ferlo

@Achelle Thank you for your lovely stories, are full of emotions and sentiment. It was very close to bring the tears in my eyes, I felt a feeling in deep in my soul and that almost made me cry.
I am an old man full of remembrances, I never got to know any of my grandparents or other relatives, and the only one is a cousin that I met when I was in my toddler years.
Two years ago I went to visit her and one of the stories she told me is that my grandfather was called by the small town folks Benito Gutierrez (Cueros) what means leather, He always wore a Charro suit made of that material. Well she said that my grandfather lived up to 104 years old but at that age he used to go out to the corn fields to see them and work around, lifting some stones he was stung by a scorpion poisoned him. He died I guess was too old and not enough body defenses. My mom also die at old age 94, and she didn't had a natural death, she fall and fractured her skull, after that she lost the ability to talk. She was a beautiful woman and very proud so she did not like to be seeing in that poor condition, she stop eating, was forced but she spat the food, she was restrained and feed by tube, whenever she could the tore the tubes, finally she died.
She was from a region called Los Altos the Jalisco State, of Mexico where people had conserved the original appearance of Spaniards and a mix of French. Many tall people men and woman blond blue or green eyed. That I think came from the part of French, The failed French Emperor of Mexico, Maximilian had some friends of mistresses in that region and of course when he travel that way was accompanied by his close colleges and French Army for personal security. Well is that the way I read digging in books of the Mexican past that are not in history texts.
I am not much of a writer, my education went as far as half of the 4th. Grade and cannot say much in an interesting manner like many people who write here, one day with more practice maybe I could write a story at least half good as you do.
Right now I am in a work/traveling and I don’t have any photos of my mother I wish can share with you, maybe someday when I get home I remember and post her some for you.
Keep writing I love your stories. Fernando

#2014-03-17 18:49:08 by AchelleVinzons @AchelleVinzons

Hello all,

Thank you so much for the words of comfort - they warmed my heart. That quote from Thomas Moore was very soothing.

It is true that family relationships are much tighter among Asians, and I hope it'll always stay that way. I always encourage my daughter to form strong bonds with her grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, whenever the opportunity arises; I want her to have the same, happy, and heartwarming memories of childhood that I had.

I also appreciate the family stories that some of you shared here. It never hurts to look back and appreciate our roots.

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