Monday, March 27, 2017 | By: BlackGargie

Another Death in the Family... (Part 3)


Continue from Part 2...

My heart still feels heavy once in a while whenever I think of it, and I'm feeling it now while I write this part.

Grandma in law officially passed on around 1.30pm on the 18th this month.

After 2 months of being a bit of a stubborn old lady, going on occasional hunger strikes and only very minimal eating and drinking, literally starving herself weak until some of her muscles and even her jaw atrophied from disuse; a week of delirium where she kept calling out to people every 20-30 mins all day and all night for no reason other than being needy and seeking attention and keeping our poor maid up all night for a week; and 3 days of sudden silence, looking kinda restless and hardly slept, she had finally received her long awaited visit from the Grim Reaper.

Thing is, our maid, me and my two girls were the last people to see her alive.

On the 17th midnight, she was suddenly unresponsive, breathing shallow, and not even waking up when our maid was holding up her limbs and shaking it to see if there was any resistance or reaction. The maid was almost literally panicking and calling mom in law to double check her but when they found she was breathing normally, albeit slightly shallow and had a bit of rapid eye movement, our maid thought the worst was over.
Then on the 18th morning, as our maid and I monitored her from time to time, she was breathing fine n moving slight around, and we could see her chest rising and falling. The last time I checked her she was still moving her mouth a bit, showing that she's breathing. So so far, so good.

Then around 1.30pm, my little princess came to me and said the maid "needed help waking up great grandma". I was downstairs in the TV lounge so I quickly made my way there and rushed to her room and my heart just sank, I knew the moment I saw.

I had to be sure, so I check her pulse both at her neck and her wrist while the maid was calling out to her to see if she would respond, if there was still life in her. Nothing, She was stone cold, and I had to admit, even though I said I was prepared for it the whole time she was bedridden and all that, when it really happened, it still struck me with terror. It didn't hit me as bad as when my sister in law's little girl died, but it still made my heart sink with terror.

I had to keep a calm and straight face and calm the maid down, trying to hold it together while she frantically called my in-laws to come home, but inside I was shaking like a leaf. I went ahead and called my hubs to come home while the maid call my sis in law as well.

Then we tried to call the geriatric helpline maybe to get the medic to come over to double check, just in case we made wrong diagnosis, but no one pick up phone, so we call the hospital directly, but they told us we should be calling the ketua kampong (village head), not hospital, they don't deal with death procedures. So the maid call the ambulance, told them a white lie saying the grandma is unconscious, so they can get the medic over.

They came in about 15 minutes after the call and did the pulse check and everything and confirmed time of death, then dad in law brought the Bishop over to pray her last rites.

Princess kinda took her great grandma's death in stride, well, I had to tell her bluntly that "great grandma is dead" bcoz she doesn't get the metaphors like "passed on" or "gone" or "left to a better plc" or "forever sleep". When the medics came over to double check her and confirm her time of death, I think that's when the reality sunk in and she cried in Joe's arms. My sis in law's boys got the idea that their great grandma passed away, but I think bcoz of their experience with their sister's death, coupled with the fact that they weren't that close to their great grandma, they didn't react as strongly as Princess did. I feel a little sad for Angel bcoz she won't be able to remember her, and will only get to know her through tales and photos but not in person, and that my grandma in law didn't live to see her take her first steps.

But at least she's not suffering anymore.

I'd been keeping a straight face all day that day trying to calm my kids and put a strong front for them and for my mom in law, but once we were in private, I cried in Joe's arms, bcoz it was still so terrifying, and I was shaking so hard after that, it was like... well can't really explain it other than reality hit me like a ton of bricks that I just witness a death firsthand, in front of me, unlike when I was away from the scene when my sis in law's little girl passed away. I mean I have been prepared for it, my looming feeling was all over me, but seeing first hand someone's last moments and literally feeling no pulse on her cold body, it was kinda terrifying. Now it felt almost unreal to me.

I'm OK now, really, just the occasional heavy heart when I think about it.

My in-laws started making all the arrangements, from calling the embalmers and the papers to print the obituary and to all the church members to handle the funeral procedures, while I had to watch my girls make sure they don't get in the way. Great grandma was embalmed by the church-assigned embalmer, and it was interesting because I've always thought you need to bring the body to the morgue to let them do it in a professional cold slab or something, but instead they just needed to cut a hole through her abdomen and drain the fluid from there and insert the embalming fluid in. The coffin-makers came and set her inside her coffin, which was placed in our living room, and we added some of her earthly possessions into the coffin for her to bring with her. She looked so peaceful in the coffin, but at the same time a little scary. Well, I wouldn't put it as scary. More like...morbid fascination, sorta.

My hub's family is Catholic, so they had this week-long vigil thing where they have to light a candle and keep it lit for 7 days to "light the way for the soul" or something like that. They used those regular white medium size candles and not the church-ordained big candle that can burn through for a week (not sure why they didn't get that), so my in-laws and the maid took turns staying awake to make sure the candle doesn't blow out and replace the candles with new ones when it burns out.

My mom in law was surprisingly taking this slightly well. I mean she did cry hard on the day she died, but after that she hadn't shed much tears, all the funeral arrangements and church  procedures kept her occupied, I guess.

I'm just worried what this might do to her emotionally and mentally, since she was very adamant about keeping her alive and in denial about her declining condition, as well as her sudden drastic change in her behaviour after her granddaughter's death (the incessant churchgoing and everything). Dad in law did persuade her during the few days before her death, telling her that she should heed the doctor's advice after her last check up to just look after her the best we can, keep her comfortable and don't force her to eat bcoz the docs could already tell from experience she didn't have long to live. Even our maid tried to persuade her to stay at home more and look after her instead of going to church so much coz her days are numbered. She was in denial at first and didn't want to accept it, but she slowly cut down on her church going and stayed home more to pray for her and stuff, even invited some church members to pray for her well being, but she had always been slightly in denial about her condition.

On the day of her death, my dad in law had to reinforce his persuasion, saying that it's fine, at least she's no longer suffering. She kept occupied with the arrangements, but I'm just worried she might get even worse, going to church even more often than usual. Or worse, decided to be a nun altogether.

It's farfetched but who knows.


I called my dad to let him know as well, since he was also quite concerned about her well being since it happened on the day we were staying at his place during our Xmas shopping that time. He sent his condolences, apologizing for not being able to be there, since he didn't want to be a burden while everyone is busy with the funeral arrangements, and that it was so sudden he might not be able to get tickets to come over.

To think I was originally planning to renew my IC and visa that day, luckily we didn't go. We decided the night before grandma in law's death that we do it next week, coz my hubs got stuff in the office to finish and it'll be too rush. Luckily we changed our minds at the last minute. If not, the maid will have to deal with it all alone, I can't imagine being in her shoes.

Finale on Part 4...

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