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My maternal grandma passed away about a month ago and my granddad passed away in 2012. I spent the last week going through photographs that I had captured of them over the last 15 years and edited them down to around 50 photographs. Many of the earlier photographs were taken on B&W film when I first started dabbling in photography. There are still quite a lot of images of both of them on my filed negatives that have not been scanned in.

The task of going through and selecting images of my grandparents was quite an emotional experience. The photographs triggered many memories. Aging is a difficult process and many of the photographs show it.

Grandpa suffered a stroke in 2010 which totally changed his quality of life though his mind remained lucid right to the end. He loved to talk and the stroke left him speechless. He loved his food and the stroke stripped him of the ability to eat. He relished oysters and I remember my grandpa polishing off a whole load of raw oysters as his main during a lunch treat I gave him and Mama! Subsequently, I got a scolding from my aunt because my grandpa had the runs after the meal. But Grandpa and I thought it was worth it because he throughly enjoyed it and that was the last time he ever ate oysters. He was bedridden about a year after the stroke which must have been really hard on him because he had always enjoyed going out on his own.

Mama started showing symptoms of dementia in 2012. She had a bad fall which left her face badly bruised 2 months before my grandpa passed away in 2012. In 2014, the physiotherapist accidentally snapped her left thigh bone during a home therapy session and from then onwards, she was bedridden. Whenever we visited, she would be sleeping most of the time and it was always nice when she opened her eyes even though she gradually lost recognition of any of us.

I am glad that I took the effort to take the photographs. They are a good record for me of my grandparents and I find even the photographs of the more difficult times beautiful in their own way. It reminds me that life is made up of both happy and sad moments, how fleeting our lives are and how much I should treasure and be thankful for family.

Together with the 2 posts I did on their funerals (see Farewell Grandpa and Farewell Mama), this post is a tribute to my wonderful maternal grandparents. My family is part of the legacy that they have left behind. The following are a selection of photographs of them.

Glen & Rachel were married at the Grand Marquee of Hotel Fort Canning last month. Glen is the founder of Prodigal Roasters at Ang Mo Kio Avenue 9 whilst Rachel is an architect. I visited Glen at his cafe recently and the coffee and tarts are excellent! I would highly recommend a visit if you love coffee.

I really enjoyed witnessing and capturing how Glen & Rachel’s families and friends gathered to support, encourage and celebrate their coming together. Selecting a set of photographs for this blog post brought back to mind much excitement, laughter, singing, words of wisdom, affection and love that I observed that day.

The following are highlights from their wedding day.

My grandmother whom I called ‘Mama’ passed away peacefully on the 16th of March 2017 at the ripe old age of 96. She was a truly remarkable woman who had a tremendous impact on me. She was humble and always thankful whether she had much or little. She was the gentlest person I have had the privilege of knowing. The rare times I heard her raise her voice was when she was being protective of her precious dogs. She was frugal and yet generous towards others in terms of her time, resources, attention and love. When I was working for an organization that required me to raise my own funds, she was the only person that supported me regularly throughout my time there.

When I look back on my childhood, what I remember most about her were the Saturday sleepovers at my grandparent’s place with my brother. We used to accompany her to her hairdresser’s on Saturday and spent the afternoon playing at her home. On Sunday mornings, she would bring us with her to church. Much of what I heard in church during those days went in one ear and out the other, but I am pretty sure that the little that did stick in my head, together with her prayers, were seeds that over time germinated into my own love for Jesus Christ.

The Beatitudes by Jesus kept on coming to mind when I think of my grandmother:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” – Matthew 5:3-12

About four and a half years ago, I photographed my grandfather’s funeral (see HERE). Since then, I have photographed other funerals and found that the photographs make for an important record of a sad and difficult time. When I look at my photographs from events such as weddings, baptisms, birthdays, and even funerals, a quote by Hungarian composer Béla Bartók comes to my mind:

“What matters most of all, is to penetrate into the pulsing of life of the people themselves, to become imbued with their way of living, and to see their faces when they sing at their weddings, harvests and funerals, and from all these associations to distill and preserve something more significant than a song on record, something beyond music and words, an abstract essence that will remain a living force within you.” – Béla Bartók (1881 – 1945)

Mama was beautiful in life and in death. Her funeral felt to me like a celebration of a life well-spent. We all miss her dearly and look forward to seeing her again in heaven. The following are a selection of photographs I took during her wake and funeral.