My grandmother died yesterday. She had many visitors the day before, including a goodbye visit from my mom and me via iPad. Then, in the peace of early morning with my super-hero grandfather by her side, she passed. Yupadee lived a long, rich life: 60 plus years of marriage, 5 children, 5 grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren.
These Easter eggs are in her honor.My grandmother’s English wasn’t great (OK, it was terrible) and my Thai isn’t great (OK, it’s terrible) so we didn’t have long meaningful conversations about life. When I wanted her to teach me how to sew she’d shake her head and say, “Go be doctor.” When my weight pleased her she’d say, “Good shape” and if not, “Shape no good.” Still, what she liked to communicate to me over and over and over was how much I was loved. “You mother love you. You father love you. I love you.” Rinse, lather, repeat. She also liked to tell you how you felt, “You love you mother. You love you auntie. You love you cousin.” Sometimes it was more of a command, sometimes it was in the form of a question—like she was just checking to make sure I did. It was annoying. I was annoyed by the repetition, and I was annoyed that these mantras were the extent of our relationship. I was annoyed that we didn’t have anything in common.
Now I have my own kids. And last night as I was remembering her I thought, we have motherhood in common. And what do I keep drilling into my children’s heads? That they are loved. That they are safe. That they are part of this tight-knit group of people who have their backs and love them no matter what.
It was my mom’s last night in California so we went out to dinner. Orchids garnished our dessert bowls. In Thailand orchids garnish everything. It was like my grandma was saying hello from this little bowl of vanilla bean ice cream. I gathered everyone’s orchids and put them in my bag. I had hard-boiled eggs at home and I was going to mod-podge the orchids to them. Why not? Easter is about death and rebirth after all.
One was cracked so I only had five eggs. Perfect— my grandmother had five children. And like children, each egg was different. Some took the mod-podge easily and the petals stuck without any fuss. Others were feisty and fought me till the end—gluey fingers sticking to the egg, the flowers, the brush. I laughed out loud.
My grandfather put his iPad on her bed so my mom and I could say goodbye. Her breath quickened when she heard our voices and the iPad went up and down. She heard us. I didn’t say goodbye, I just said, “We love you, Grandma. We love you very much.”