Yesterday, I came home after badminton with the colleagues to find my grandma’s room lights on, which was unusual cos it was past her bedtime. Seeing me, she hobbled out of her room and headed to the kitchen, mumbling. My dad who was in the living room said, “You better go see what your grandma wants. She lost something.” (They’re not on talking terms.)
I went to the kitchen, where my grandma was rummaging through the dry trash, and proceeded to ask her in my shitty sing-song Cantonese what she was looking for.
She looked at me and exclaimed, obviously quite distressed, “My teeth!”
Jeng jeng jeng.
Yes folks, have any of you seen my granny’s dentures, a whole jawful of them? You may have seen them before in her mouth–especially if she’s smiling after a good meal–only you may not have recognised them for being the imposters they are. At other times they may luxuriate in a red plastic cup, submerged in some liquid which could be plain H2O, I dunno. The big question was, where does a granddaughter begin to locate her grandma’s false teeth?
I started by searching through the fridge, the freezer! (you never know), amongst her stuff in the kitchen, through plastic bags, etc. Nothing. Then I went to her room. I prayed for God to help me find it–my granny’s been really emo these days that such a loss would leave her more frustrated and standing under a sombre cloud raining self-pity. Pitter patter, pitter patter, pity pity pity. I checked her side table, bigger table, peeked under her bed, then saw…
Lo and behold, her teeth! Gleaming white pearls sitting on a pink jaw, grinning deviously at me.
Cautiously I picked them up, thanking my lucky stars they were dry. Outside, my dad made squirmy sounds to gross me out (how childish) as I brought my ‘trophy’ to my granny, who was all but relieved to have them safely returned, though she couldn’t comprehend how they got there in the first place.
The sad truth is, my granny’s been losing her stuff more frequently, blaming others of spiting her by hiding them. She can’t seem to accept the fact that perhaps she’s losing her memory and rational faculties. She’s been crying off and on, venting her anger on my rabbit and the cats outside. Her hearing is poor, which isolates her further from a world of language and sound. Her strength and mobility are slowly ebbing away. She’s been picking fights with her children, who have their own chores and grandchildren to look after. Alone at 98 years, who understands? Who feels? Who knows exactly what she’s going through?
Addendum: At midnight, an hour after the incident, my grandma wasn’t asleep yet. I decided to peek in to check on her. She had lost the meds the doc gave her in the morning for her tummyache. I helped her search for them, finding them next to her pillow. After a few more minutes of adjusting the fan’s breeze and fanning away the mosquitoes (milder displays of her obsessive compulsive behaviour), I watched while she finally got ready to tuck in, shutting the door after me. She is now the child; I am the adult helping her along. It’s not easy being old.