My Ama, my grandma, turned 90 last May. If you find that even the slightest bit astonishing, wait until you hear about her. Her life, what she’s been through, who she is, what she’s like. For now, let’s start with the physical, she is strong. Strong enough to carry groceries, cook comforting and nourishing Chinese soups in large soup pots, stir fry her famous bihon noodles in an old, well seasoned, well-aged wok. And she drives every morning (except for Sundays when she drives to church) to the mall before it opens its doors to the public to exercise with other senior citizens. They have all been coming for years and she, at 90, is still going strong.
Mentally, she hasn’t skipped a beat. She’ll conjure up memories in an instant, fond childhood stories of her life in Gu Lang Yu, a tiny island in the province of Xia Men, China. Or she’ll recollect stories of my Dad’s childhood, memories that make her laugh out loud and us giggle in both curiosity and glee at seeing her laugh so unabashedly.
“You must laugh every day even if you have to make yourself laugh. I do it all the time.” She has said to me.
It is my favourite of her many prescriptions for immortality.
Lately, she says she feels tired more easily. That she has to take longer naps in the afternoons. She’s also found it harder to remember everyone’s birthday, something she proudly did up until a year ago. With 5 children, 15 grandchildren, and 10 great-grandchildren and counting, I don’t blame her. I’m 37 and I can barely remember most people’s birthdays. And you also expect me to remember anniversaries?
My sister Karla thought of creating a calendar for her that that would have every family member’s birthday marked down. It was perfect. Anything else we gave her she would have surely given away at some point. She doesn’t keep things she doesn’t need or won’t use. But a calendar filled with memories with all her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren? With everyone’s birthday so she won’t have to worry about remembering them now? It’s sentimental AND useful. #Bestgiftforyour90yearoldgrandmaever
Karla had the calendars printed at Costco. At $13.99 a piece, they were the most affordable option. However, while the calendars look great, they failed miserably with their delivery time. They gave us a week delivery window and exceeded the last day by 3. Amazon never missed a delivery time during the holidays for me and I purchased almost all of my Christmas gifts from them. I don’t want to hear it.
I’m sorry Ama but I’m not going to stop asking you to sew my buttons back on when they fall off my coat or make my favourite ma zhang now and then because no one does it better than you do (her ma zhang fillings are the best and are always just the right amount, I won’t eat anyone else’s). And don’t worry about forgetting your wedding anniversary the other day when I called you up to ask. I love how you dug up your wedding ring just so you could read the tiny inscription on the inside. December 22, 1946. It’s on the calendar and I have a copy too. I won’t be forgetting it either.
May isn’t too far away and I need to think of what to get her for her birthday this year. She’s going to be 91! Do you have any great gift ideas for grandparents?