Grandparents are a delightful blend of laughter, caring deeds, wonderful stories and love. In this heartfelt letter, Homager Jia Hui reflects on life with Popo through her growing years.
To the best Popo in the world,
You are the strongest, bravest and most selfless person I have ever known.
Though I grew up in a single-parent household, I never felt different because I had you around. More than just being my grandma, you are my other parent, my playmate and my trusted confidante.
Breakfast was never a boring affair. You would wake up in the wee hours to prepare tasty soft boiled eggs and a cup of hot Milo every day because you knew I hated bread. When the 8-year-old me groused about the breakfast choices, you surprised me with sunny side ups, scrambled eggs, and even mastered my favourite ramen eggs without a word of complaint! Your made-with-love breakfast became the fuel to start my day.
In my younger years, you were my indulging playmate and faithful guardian. To satisfy my inner bookworm, you would accompany me to the library after school, and even brought me to author Russell Lee’s book signing event because I was a fan of his ‘True Singapore Ghost Stories’ series.
You often grumble about my habit of buying soft toys home, but whenever I needed someone to play house with me and ‘Bear Bear’, you would put aside what you were doing just to entertain me.
Jia Hui (first from left) at a table tennis competition award ceremony in 2005.
When classes ended, you would always be at the school gate waiting patiently for me without fail, giving me “just 5 minutes” when I wanted to play catch with my friends at the nearby playground.
There are times when the bigger kids would pick on me, and you would transform into a fierce protector to stand up for me. Having you there made me feel fearless and I knew that I could always count on you to make things better.
Oh, and I’ve never told you this before but your shoulders are the best to nap on during our bus rides home! Even when I drooled, you never once woke me up or nudged my head away.
Through these little things you have done for me, I learned the meaning of unconditional love.
You have certainly spoilt me through your meticulous care so much that I shed a few kilos on my first overseas school trip because nothing quite compares to the taste of home-cooked fare you lovingly prepare for the family. If you were a Masterchef contestant, I have no doubt that you would beat the others out there by a mile!
Jia Hui (second from right) cooking at home with Popo and friends
Now that I’m all grown up, you have also relaxed your watch over me but some things never change. I will always find a bowl of nourishing soup on the table with my name scribbled on a paper beside it when I return home from work late. You still greet me with the same question as when I was 13: “Have you eaten?”, whipping up a meal to feed my starving tummy when I have not.
This year, you turn 80, while I transit from being a student to a working adult. As the pace of life slows down for you, mine has sped up. Juggling work, social gatherings and family, I can’t be home with you as often as my 13-year-old self.
Your recent fall when you woke up in the night for the restroom was a sobering reminder that age has caught up. It’s time for me to be the indulging granddaughter to your fries and ice cream cravings, and to be by your side more often.
I hope you will continue to be as sunny as you are and to appreciate the little moments we have together. You will always be my best friend and partner-in-crime — next time we are having McDonald’s, I promise to leave you half a packet of my fries!
Love you always,
Your (self-proclaimed) favourite granddaughter, Jia Hui