Ah Po, I Have Come Home To See You

Apho with "Dua bui dom"

Ah Po with the then 5.5 month old “Dua bui dom”

We first heard about it from my mom, “Ah Po was admitted to the ICU,” she texted. My grandmother, of Dad’s side, had had a stroke that Sunday morning which resulted in blood clot in 70% of her right brain. With such brain condition, the doctor said, Ah Po might face respiratory failure anytime. Hence, we were to prepare for the worst.

I flew back for my hometown immediately upon receiving such urgent news, bringing Baby along. Hubby could not join us though, his teaching schedule didn’t allow him taking leave. My mind was filled with a storm of thoughts during the journey home. Amongst them are memories of childhood, but many of the thoughts that came swirling were.. regrets. When one realizes that the time, of one’s self and of others one loves, is indeed very short, one can not help but feeling that one should have done better with it.

I should have called more often. Should have come home, visiting her, more often. Should have shown love more boldly. Should have brought her great-granddaughter back earlier, when Ah Po was still well, strong, and conscious.

I should have talked to her about Lord Jesus, much earlier, and often.. And this, is my greatest regret.

I saw her lying on the white bed with intrusive pipes all around her thin figure. Ah Po looked so much different in my memory of our last meeting. It hurt to see her in such a state.

She was drowsy and could only lift her eyes up occasionally for some short time.

“Ah Po, I have come home to see you. Do you recognize me? I am Ting Ting, and here is Kana your great-granddaughter, ” I carried Baby up leaning close to her side. She shook her head signaling her inability to recognize us, then she gazed deep and long into my eyes and muttered “Dua bui dom,” which means ‘fatso’ in Hainanese, a nickname she have been using to address me since my babyhood. I had to muster up all my strength to refrain from crying in front of her at that very moment. Ah Po then lifted her weak hand in what seemed to me require her putting up much effort, waved to ask Baby to get within her reach and pinched Baby’s thigh and cheek. It was very moving to see this gesture of elderly love towards the little one, even more so that we knew it was no easy pinch for Ah Po to do.

Occasionally she would mumble “Ah Po is fine and healthy. Don’t worry.” She was still the tough woman I always knew her to be. Having lost her husband to illness when her youngest son was not even one month old and having had to raise all eight children up by herself, life has shaped her into a strong and independent person. Often misunderstood as harsh and unapproachable by those who are not close to her. I myself used to dislike my Ah Po and favor my Ah Ma (my mom’s mom) over her for obvious reason. My Ah Po is just not the type that will spoil any brat, not even her grandchildren.

Looking at her now, I could tell that it would be the last chance I have to tell my Ah Po about Christ and His salvation. Despite the slim possibility that she would be able to hear me clearly, let alone understand me, I spoke close to her ears,

“Ah Po, would you put your faith in Jesus? He has promised to save those who believe in Him, cleanse their sins, and give them eternal life. So even though our body should pass away, we will one day be resurrected and live forever, and we shall meet again in the coming life in the house of God. Ah Po, would you believe in Him?”

I had to say that I was disappointed I couldn’t see any visible or confirmative response from Ah Po. She could only stare at me long with teary eyes. So I told her I would pray for her. Honestly I hate myself even now for not being daring enough to challenge her in a more direct way to accept Christ as her Lord and Savior.. =(

Ah Po has since been having less wakeful time. On the day before we flew back to Singapore we went to bid her farewell, it was unfortunate that Ah Po was unconscious. As I am writing now, her condition has gotten worse. Doctor’s advice is for her to stay in the ICU but Ah Po has requested to be allowed to return home. We are all well aware that the time is not much left but how could we ever prepare ourselves for the departure of someone we love? I personally can’t, I do not want to, not when my Ah Po has yet been in Christ.. And so the regret stays.

Dear Readers, may I plead with you should you still have the chance, cherish the ones you love. While they are still healthy and well and around, tell them the good news their souls desperately need, tell them about Christ and His salvation. Spare yourself this bitter feeling of regret.

And may I have the privilege to request if you, dear Readers, would please join me to plead with the Lord for His mercy on my grandma’s poor soul. May the Lord grant me the assurance that I, one day, can see my Ah Po again in the Lord’s house and say to her,

“Ah Po, I have come home to see you again.”