Today is a holiday in my homeland, a “Day to Respect the Elderlies.” It is a day to honour those who have contributed to our society for many years and wish for their health and prosperity. It is an important day in my culture because we value respect for elders and especially elderlies, but its significance has been growing with our growing population of elderlies.
Official survey reports that more than one in four are over 65 years old (usually the age of retirement), around one in twelve are over 80 years old (roughly our average life expectancy), and about 65 thousands (approximately 0.2% of the elderlies) are centenarians! It is assumed these numbers reflect advancements in healthcare and improvements in quality of life. Unlike the “elderlies” of a generation ago, they are still very active and capable and ever so young at heart… sometimes much more than the youngsters!
So, although both my parents are statistically categorized as “elderlies,” they do not feel so and they certainly do not like to be called so! The only “elderly” to respect on this day in my family has been my maternal grandmother for some time now.
As I have mentioned before, she has been suffering from dementia and it has become quite difficult to hold meaningful conversations with her. There are so many things I wanted her to pass down to me but never got the chance to make my own – her secret recipes she used to make only for me, her sensitive yet bold touch in her calligraphy works, and how can I forget, her useful tips on speedy but beautiful needlework. It feels like I have let the chain that had been tying us together slip through my fingers.
But maybe not all is lost.
Maybe I have little bits of her in me from the times we shared.
And although they manifest themselves in me differently, maybe she will still recognize them as parts of her passed down to me the moment she sees them.
This year, I have prepared this as a gift for her:
You MUST turn your eyes away from the horror of my needlework in sewing on the edging!
I originally started this project for her birthday in March, but I quickly realized I could not complete it, so I had promised her to get it done by this day. I thought I had plenty of time, until I was forced to take a four-month hiatus. The last couple of days I was so nervous I was going to disappoint her yet again (though she probably had forgotten all about it), but because I did not go out yesterday I was able to finish it just in time. PHEW!! (I hope this makes the lie I told yesterday a little less sinful…)
Maybe it is not the handicraft she would have taught me.
And maybe I have a long way to go before I can begin to exhibit the same level of craftsmanship as her.
But although still rough around the edges, maybe she will see a glimpse of herself in it and know that we are still connected.
I doubt she will suddenly remember the tie between us when I give this to her. The chain that used to tie us together has weakened considerably, but I hope she will feel through it the strong bond we still share. Grandma, I wish you many more years of health and prosperity… it is an honour to have you as our “elderly”!