In this sharing by Intan, our Homage Care Advisor, she talks about how her grandparents played a pivotal role in her formative years and the many life lessons that have shaped her to be who she is today, and in continuing their life’s legacy as her own.
From Raya memories with them to the penned words to her late grandparents, Intan describes the depth of their love for her and even for each other, through thick and thin.
1) Tell us about your grandparents and your earliest memory of them.
I call my late grandfather Tokwan and my late grandmother Atok. Both my grandparents took care of me when I was younger. Atok was and still is a great cook whereas Tokwan loved spending time with me and made sure that he participated in my early childhood education as much as he could. They were my primary carers when my parents went to work. This explains how close we were.
Atok loves to cook and go sightseeing. Her signature dishes were fried mackerel and coconut cabbage. Tokwan has a very unique hobby where he likes collecting classic cars. One of my favourite cars that he owned was a black Beetle. He used to drive me to the kindergarten with it, making sure that I got to kindergarten on time. I remember its engine producing a signature loud sound.
There was a period of time when I grew up in Kedah and my aunt took care of me. My aunt was an early childhood teacher and she ran a school in her neighbourhood. She was a wonderful host and treated me like her own child. I had the chance to attend her school together with her two children. Despite this, I was immensely homesick and was missing my family so much, especially my grandparents. After about a week’s stay, suddenly we received a guest from the south. To my surprise, it was Tokwan! I remember jumping so excitedly and hugged him tightly.
We had dinner together with my aunt’s family and he told us that he was only staying for a couple of days. When he was about to leave, he asked me if I wanted to follow him back to KL. I smiled and said yes, and we made our way back to KL. Many years after that, Tokwan passed away due to a stroke. Everyone was so devastated when this happened.
One day, while we were having our family dinner, my aunt whom I was stayed with in Kedah told me something personal. She explained that the only reason Tokwan travelled all the way to her home on that fateful day years back was because of me, as my family was going through some difficult times. The moment he heard about it, he packed his bags and made his way to Kedah. My aunt said that he was not very happy to find out that I was sent all the way to Kedah away from him and my Atok. Tokwan showed me how strong a grandpa could be for his grandchildren. That was one memory I still hold dear to me.
2) If there was one thing you’ve learned from your grandparents, what would it be?
Patience and ‘redha’. Redha means to accept everything that has happened wholeheartedly and sincerely. I admired my grandmother so much in her journey in taking care of her mother (my great-grandmother) and husband. My late great-grandmother was a stroke survivor and I saw how patiently my Atok took care of her, ensuring that all her needs were being attended to. She lost a lot of weight during that time.
A couple of years later, Tokwan also had a stroke. He was unable to move the lower half of his body. I remembered how my Atok was able to do pivot transfers from the bed to the wheelchair all the time. It’s never easy taking care of your loved ones especially when they are sick as they tend to not be themselves. Despite the challenges, Atok stood by Tokwan until his final days. Their love for each other is the definition of true love for me; through thick and thin.
3) What’s the best thing about being a grandchild?
Definitely being pampered and loved unconditionally by both grandparents. They always make sure that I am healthy and have delicious meals being prepared when I visit them.
4) What was something you remembered most about your grandparents during Raya?
We will usually gather together at their home in the morning. We will go for Raya prayers at the mosque just behind their home and feast on Atok’s delicious cook afterward— especially her rendang and pulut kuning. A few days before Raya, Atok would bake cookies and her specialty was mazola biscuits and pineapple tarts. She taught me how to make them from scratch. Initially, I found this to be very tedious as I have never baked before. After a while, baking became so fun. The cookies she baked were simple yet so delicious.
When I got my driving license, only Atok was still around and I was fortunate to have the opportunity to drive her around sightseeing or grocery shopping whenever she needed it. Today, I am proud to say that I inherited my Atok’s baking skills as well as her love for sightseeing.
5) What is the best piece of advice you’ve received from your grandparents?
Provide as much value as you can to the people around you. Love unconditionally and hate no one and to always have faith in ourselves.
6) If your grandparents were still alive, what would you say to them?
I love you, my Tokwan and Atok and I miss you so much. Thank you so much for the time you have spent raising me. Thank you for putting up with me as a child and for all your efforts in ensuring that I always felt loved.
7) What were other people’s impressions of your grandparents?
My grandmother was a social butterfly amongst her friends. She loved to cook and share her dishes with loved ones. Every time I bump into her friends in the mosque near her home, people will always remind me of how she was to the community. Her friends always tell me how wonderful she is as a person and that she always cared for her family, friends, and neighbours.
8) Show us a picture of you and your grandparents.