Horizon at Sandy Point

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Grandmother

The grandmother was a suicide. In the middle of a day, at or around the age of 80, she tied one end of rope around a crossbar in the bathroom, the other around her own neck and fell off a stool. No one else was at home. It was a perfect plan, the perfect crime. Now consider the pandemonium when her grandchild came in after school, and the rest of the family. Her own children ridden with guilt and unanswered questions for the rest of their lives. Did her soul find release back to the earth of her birth?

A peasant childhood in China. Hard and self-sufficient adulthood as a teen mother of three sons. A long and incomprehensible journey across many waters with daughters at her breast. And a life locked in the cage of her skin -  a woman, not educated, on the fringe of a society where few spoke her native language, and many mocked the strangeness of the way she did speak.

She tolerated much.  The squalor of seven children growing untidily in living quarters behind a shop. Losing them to education in a foreign language, and the culture of the streets "behind the bridge" Port of Spain. Her husband's other family living down the road - the two sets of children with the same last name, unquestionably siblings of the same father. And then grandchildren of a different colour, hair texture. The death of the husband and then transportation to yet another land. Where no one outside the family spoke her language.

How much life is enough for one soul? Who decides? How long did she plot, behind the quiet daily pleasantries, the "good mornings" and "good nights," the meals prepared for grandchildren coming home from school, the occasional outing to the market where she chose food that was familiar. I believe we all choose - perhaps not the day or time, or the manner of going, but in the end, the soul chooses. And in the twinkling of an eye, all attachments are left behind. Life lifts off to suffuse those who remain with the sorrow of longing and lost possibility.

Is this not an infusion to make us more alive? Lessons - if not in life - in death.


  1. So moving. You are sharing with us some very personal memories that resonate with all of us who share this past. The agonies of those ancestors who paved the way.

  2. They say that people who commit suicide, could not live with the anguish any longer. Pain which eventually invades every cell, manifesting as physical pain. The love of family and friends can not reach this pain. It is a silent pain, locked up too deeply inside.

    Perhaps it was her devotion and deep love for her children and grandchildren that had her continue in her pain, for so long, with suicide on her mind. And finding no way to peace through the pain, and when the time was right, she quietly made her plan. She acted. She chose. She used the one power left to her. The power of death was her voice.

  3. just came across this song today. It seems to fit so well.