“We’re going for dinner now,” my dad announced to no one in particular. We were seated in a semi-circle around the hospital bed. I, the precious eldest grand-daughter, was sitting on the bed next to my grandma.
She let go of my hand and pushed me off the bed gently. “Go, go. It’s late.” Grandma was in high spirits today. I think it was because I kept her company for three hours today. Still wide awake, she sat upright in bed and waved us goodbye. As we made for the door, my grandfather, who had always be sullen and impatient with the frequent hospital visits, walked back towards the bed, painfully slow. His tanned, wrinkled hand reached for my grandmother’s. “We’re leaving now,” he said, rather redundantly. Surprised, Grandma, in the usual way old Asian couples speak to one another, raised her voice at him. “I know that. Just go.”
It was apparent in everyone’s actions. My father and my aunt turned away; my mother stopped in her tracks; a tear rolled uncontrollably down my cheek; Grandma’s harsh eyes faltered for a second. Grandpa, oblivious to the gravity of his little gesture, turned and walked to the door.
When we were still kids, my brother, the cheeky arse, often asked Grandma if she loved my Grandpa. “Rubbish!” she would exclaim loudly. “In my time, there was no such thing as love.” Of course, as young children, we didn’t think she was serious. But as we grow older, we watched their twin beds move further and further apart. There never was any show of affection in my family.
That was why we didn’t know what to make of the gentleness of Grandpa’s hand on Grandma’s. She may or may not recognise what it was, but I did. We all did. If that wasn’t a man’s love for his old, ailing, lifelong companion, I don’t know what is.