Today is my grandmother's 8th death anniversary. My dad and I went to the cemetery to pay our respects. We lighted some candles and burned incense as customary. I walked around the small mausoleum my family built for her, and picked up the black-and-white photograph of my Amah in her younger years. As I was looking at it, I thought of how beautiful she must have been back then. She was about 31 in the picture. My dad told me she had just given birth to him at the time (My dad is the 6th and youngest in the family. My grandma gave birth to the eldest at age 18). To me, she looked 3-4 years younger still. She was beautiful. I imagined her skin glowing, her hair dark and full, her cheeks rosy, her lips red, her eyes glinting with the promise of a bright and beautiful life ahead.
On top of her tomb, was a picture of her 30 or so years after. She had just celebrated her 50th wedding anniversary. She still had a head full of dark hair but I knew it had already been dyed. Her skin was wrinkled, her cheeks rosy with rouge, her lips red because of the lipstick she wore. She wore her huge tinted glasses, a string of dainty pearls around her neck, and a big, bright smile. I remember that smile all too well. She would wear that smile as she stood at the porch, welcoming us as we came home for the summer. It was the memory of her I missed the most.
It was a good thing we managed to revive our old childhood videos. The whole family--cousins, aunts, uncles, cousin-in-laws-- watched the videos together last Christmas. Everyone laughed, cheered, and screamed at how funny and young, and fat, and thin we were back in those days. Amah was in 'em, too. Smiling her bright smile, playing with her grandkids, and just being around. As I watched her on TV, it almost felt like she was still around.
And in some ways she still is.
We miss you, Amah. We love you.