i don't think i'm the only one in my family to say this, but i feel both relieved and guilty. my grandfather had been ailing for a while now, and when i saw him less than 2 years ago at the senior citizen home where he lived, he didn't remember me the first time, and when i saw him again before i left taiwan, he'd been sedated after a health scare. my parents have been going back to taiwan at least once every year to check up on him, and a close family friend takes care of him the rest of the time to make sure the assisted living staff are doing a good job. my grandfather held on to life for a long time, which is totally in character with the kind of person he was, that he wouldn't go without a fight. so i feel relieved that finally his struggle is over, yet at the same time guilty. maybe my father and my aunt feel it more than me since they are his children, but while we live our happy lives here in america, my grandfather was alone in taiwan, all of us (his family members) having moved away a long time ago. it wasn't entirely our fault, at times he was a difficult man to live with, but like all people, he had his moments.
what about grief-stricken? i think i mourned 2 years ago, the last time i saw my grandfather. his arms and legs had atrophied and he was confined to a wheelchair, just a shell of the man he used to be. in his prime, my grandfather was a large man with a loud voice, making his presence known where ever he went. i don't know any of my grandparents names but his i'll never forget. he was a learned man and made his fortune publishing books, yet also a man of action and could always be counted on to get things done, probably because he knew people in high places. he was old-school, and would say stuff to me that i didn't understand but i nodded my head anyway and pretended i did. he had a certain gravity about him and when you met him you could sense that here was somebody different from the rest. of us his family members, whether we want to or not, we forever live in the large shadow that he cast. after i left the senior citizen home i just broke down for a few seconds. i couldn't articulate what i was feeling but it felt like a part of me had died.
my father is going to have my grandfather cremated, his remains to stay in taiwan for now. sometime in the future, he's going to exhume my deceased grandmother (she passed away in 1979) and take both my grandparents back to northeastern china, where they'll be reburied in the yang family tomb. to the bitter end my grandfather was a staunch nationalist but for his final resting place he would've liked being back at home.
my mother told me to light an incense tonight. i don't know what it means but it's the least i can do for the man i knew as my grandfather.