Ammumma

My maternal grandmother passed away early this morning at around 2:30 am. I got the call at around 4:45 and quickly informed a couple of my cousins about her death. She had been ill quite a bit recently – she had a urinary infection, then she had a fracture in her hip bone for which she had to undergo surgery. She also had a battle with cancer, which was thought to be in complete remission. While in recovery from the surgery, she went into cardiac arrest on Wednesday night and then into a coma. I went to the hospital yesterday morning but I couldn’t see her as she was in recovery. The brain activity had ceased and she was hooked up to a ventilator and her heart was the only thing keeping her alive. Last night my dad confirmed to me all the talk that was happening among her children – they were to take her off the ventilator as there was nothing anyone could do. However, she passed away during the early hours naturally and peacefully.

It wasn’t your typical funeral : only a few people were crying. She was after all in her late 80s and they didn’t want her to suffer in pain as she has had quite a battle with illness. Plus her spark kinda left her when one of her sons, my uncle, died in 2001. She had 12 children but he was the focus of her attention due to his ill health and the fact that she had mostly lived with him & his family. For her, keeping on living and being able to do things, was like a huge curse when her son was dead. She found that a burden to bear.

She was a petite woman, highly religious and always living for her family. She wasn’t perfect, infact she had her numerous superstitions and her methods may not always be the best. She could use emotional blackmail like the very best of them. But she was also a sweet old lady who got married at the age of 15 and birthed 12 children – 7 sons first and then 5 daughters! Her first daughter and the 8th child being my mom. For me she was always ammumma – my mother’s mother, my mom’s mom, my mummy’s mummy. That is something special. This lady birthed the lady who birthed me.

She was a sweet old lady. My favourite memory of her is back in 2002; she was staying with an uncle of mine who lived two houses away from my old house. The football world cup was on at that time and my uncle would call me to watch the games at his house in the afternoons and early evenings as he wanted company. When we were watching the games, ammumma would sit with us for a bit until after lunch when she is supposed to take some strong medicine and then go to sleep while the meds take effect. However, she would nap for 20 minutes and then come and sit with us again. Each time we would send her back to sleep and 20 mins later she would come back and say that she prefers to sit with us. This went on for a couple of days. So I looked at my uncle and said, tongue-in-cheek ofcourse, ‘Grandma doesn’t know the first thing about obedience. No wonder the rest of us turned out like this – we were learning from her all the time!’ My uncle would start laughing & ammumma would join in. She would crack up everything I joked about that.

Ammumma means grandmother and the literal translation is mother’s mother. She was ammumma to 11 of my cousins, my sister & me and achamma (dad’s mother) to 11 of my cousins.