1000 a Day – Day 9

This is actually taking some unexpected discipline: I really want to skip forward. I think it’s probably how my memories surface, obviously not chronologically, some more so than others dependent on external stimuli, so when I have something, I want to write it. But I’m not sure that would be appropriate. If I lose the chronology of it all, I fear that this would just be a jumbled mess and completely incomprehensible to anyone reading it, even myself. So I must stay disciplined, unexpected as noted, and plunge forward in an orderly fashion. What’s also surprising is that I am fast running out of pre-US memories. I think I only have three entries worth left before I find myself landing at LAX.

My great grandmother lived to be 96 years old. My grandfather is already that old, with my grandmother, 93, soon along the way. If there’s one thing that can be said about my family it’s that we are indeed long lived. As I mentioned, when I was growing up there were at one point four generations all living under the same roof, a fact that my grandmother took a lot of pride and joy in. Though I don’t actually live with her at the moment, she can still claim such moments of joy when I come over to visit with my father, though short one generation obviously since my great grandmother is not still alive. My grandmother does hope to one day have four generations under the same roof again, though I think she may have given up that particular hope.

Being 96 meant that my great grandmother was basically in-firmed and stuck in bed. She was a very short woman, not quite five feet if I remember correctly. She’s also lived a fascinating life, one that I only know bits and pieces of. My grandmother is attempting to finish up a biography of her mother before she dies. Of what I know, part of it is that she served in a hard labor camp during the cultural revolution, moving large pieces of stone from one place to another. She also had her feet bound, a tradition I’m sure some of you may know. She was also a beautiful woman in her youth, and very refined in her old age.

One night it was just she and I in the apartment. I’m not sure where my grandparents were, and it must have been the maid’s day off. My great grandmother had been recovering from some illness recently and was even more bedridden than normal. My grandmother had told me specifically that while they were out, my great grandmother was not to get out of bed under any circumstances. I’ll leave out any snarky comments about the intelligence of leaving a five or six year old in charge of a 94 or so year old woman for now, but I think, obvious enough, and quite expectedly, my great grandmother wanted to get out of bed. I don’t remember what it was she wanted or needed, but I knew I couldn’t help. All I could do was watch as she got out of her bed, which was in the back where my grandparents now sleep, put on her sandals, and shuffle across the tiled floor. I managed to see her through the hallway and into the living room where she promptly slipped and fell. I was panicked. I was five years old, unable to lift her up, and completely ignorant of what to do. She laid there on the floor until my grandparents got back. They were so angry at me. They scolded me for letting my great grandmother get out of bed. They scolded me for not doing anything and leaving her on the floor. They had to call a doctor to come and examine her, and he found that she had scraped up her lower back on a piece of furniture as she fell and was bleeding. As she laid on her side, the doctor cleaning up and examining the wound, I looked in from the doorway to the bedroom. My grandmother told me that it was my fault that she had gotten hurt, and years later, though completely irrational and not even close to being able to be related, when my great grandmother finally died the first thing I thought was “I shouldn’t have let her get up that night.”


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