July 28, 2010

My Grandpa

My 95-yo grandpa is a jack of many trades. He was really hardworking when he was young - his past occupations included chef, tailor, carpenter and for as far as I know him, he has been a 'house-husband', while grandma goes out to work. He has made me a study desk that I personally designed. I almost wanted to ask him to make a Barbie house for me back in my little girl days (to fulfil my dream of owning one. It was expensive to buy a doll house in those days). He has also sewn me my school uniform - my mum would purchase the fabric, give him a sample and he would take my measurements and then make my uniforms. Those uniforms lasted me for quite a couple of years before I outgrew them. Grandpa takes care of grandma, my unmarried uncle (his son) with chronic kidney failure, my divorced aunt and her 2 kids. For a good number of years, they live under one roof... until 3 years ago, my uncle and grandma passed on suddenly. 

Maybe being his eldest internal grandchild (i.e. his sons' children as supposed to his daughters' children) has its privileges. He has not done any wood work nor sewn any uniforms for his other grandchildren. In fact, because I was the first in the family to enter a university and graduate, I was given $500 when I completed university (or was it when I was successfully accepted into the university?). That is not a huge sum of money but I think to my grandpa, it was. The idea of rewarding me with a gift was big deal enough. I think it would have taken him quite a while to save that $500 when he was working. Again, this was something which no other grandchildren had. 

When we were younger and on the occasional times when my parents went overseas, grandpa would take care of my siblings and I. He will cook our meals and iron our clothes. He is a strong man - up until he was in his early 90's, he would still walk to the nearby (a good 10 mins walk) supermarket to buy groceries, including 10kg sack of rice (despite constant discouragement from the family). 

Grandpa not only cooks, he bakes too. He bakes in his free time. The cake that I fondly remember was his butter cake. He has made that many many times. On grandma's death anniversary, he baked a heart-shaped cake for me... it was so sweet of him, being about 92yo then, showing his love for his deceased wife. Then, we worried that grandpa might not overcome his grief of having to cope with the loss of 2 of his loved ones within 1 month. But he stood on strong... in fact, he knows that he needs to be healthy and he is healthier now than before. 

Amongst my cousins and siblings, I probably am the only one who 'inherited' his love and ability to bake. At my recent trip back to Singapore, he saw me baked egg tarts and he commented quite a fair bit about the ingredients and portions that I used, etc, but all in a chinese dialect that I hardly understood. When I went to his house to visit him on the day before I flew off, he was making some buns with minced meat (photo above) and he again tried to teach me how I should bake my egg tarts. He spoke with so much passion and experience and he showed me his little notebook of his recipes (all written in chinese) :)

Despite his constant nagging of me when I get back, grandpa is a nice old man. I don't even think I will live to an ripe old age like him... My greatest prayer for him is that he will be able to hear (in Hainanese) and accept Jesus into his life. 

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