My grandmother on my mother’s side passed away just over a month ago. Here’s the eulogy I wrote for her:
My Grandma was born in 1923 in Singapore. Whilst she only had 4 years of formal education at Methodist Girls School, she was smart and resourceful through her entire life.
Being the eldest of 7 children, Grandma spent a lot of time helping her Mum with home duties and looking after her 4 brothers and 2 sisters.
At 17, Grandma married my Grandpa, Siang Him. Just two years later, the Second World War came to Singapore and Grandma’s Father died. But my Grandma and Grandpa were able to overcome these challenges and start their young family, bringing up Henry and then Andrew. Their family continued to grow with my Mum in 1946, then four years later with Dennis and the next year with Nancy, who was adopted out to Grandpa’s cousin. I am truly inspired by how Grandma was able to do the best she could with what she had and care for her family during these tough years.
Being mainly family oriented, Grandma had few interests outside of her home and family – but she was very good at handicrafts. My Mum recalls how talented she was with embroidery and sewing and making paper flowers with crepe paper. Grandma also loved and was very good at cooking, a pastime that she enjoyed and was happy to share with family and friends.
In 1975, Grandma came to Australia by herself for 6 months to help Mum when I was born. But in 1981 at the age of 58, Grandma showed immense courage as she migrated to Australia away from her brothers and sisters and the Chinese culture that she had grown up with. Grandpa joined her two years later, staying initially with Mum and Dad in the Granny Flat in Walcott Street before moving to their own house a few blocks away in Marradong Street.
I will always admire the love, care, personal strength and devotion that Grandma had to my Grandpa in the late 90s when he battled with cancer and eventually passed away in 1998.
Grandma moved in with my parents when she was 80, but longed for independence and her own space again, so she moved out when she was 86.
You can never be too old to make new friends or have new experiences. For the last few years, Grandma joined in the weekly excursions for seniors organized by the Stirling City Council in a group called “The Tuesday Travellers”. Grandma always looked forward to and enjoyed these outings, giving us a passionate report about the lunch afterwards. She was looking forward to join in their Christmas in July function on 17th July but unfortunately did not make it.
Despite having a heart attack in 2002, suffering from asthma that grew worse as she got older, and some pain in her leg, Grandma worked very hard in the garden and around her house to keep it very tidy and clean. Her routine would include as she says, “sweeping the compound” – raking the leaves and box tree seeds, pruning plants and pulling weeds. She died doing what she enjoyed and what was keeping her fit in her old age – cleaning up the backyard.
Her life reminds me of truths that we all know deep inside – that you don’t need belongings to be happy or leave your mark on the world. Compared to what she had, she gave so much and she was so blessed with being able to enjoy seeing her 4 great grandchildren grow up and spoiling them. Grandma, may you now be reunited in heaven with Grandpa. We miss you and we’ll always remember and love you.