My general impression is that when people reminisce about primary school, they start to think about all the fun times ; the lack of the piles of homework and the proud grins after conquering the monkey bars. My own impressions of primary school are mostly hazy save for this one very strong memory: the memories of going home as a prep- grade 3 student. Those years were the years that I was driven home by my grandfather.
If you’re wondering why the memories of my grandfather are the strongest… well, my grandfather passed away when I was in year 9. He was the first grandparent I had that passed away and it was the toughest death for me to deal with. We all knew he was weak but it still happened out of nowhere. I remember the day we found out better than the morning I just had. I remember the days that followed and the black cloud that just followed my family for the year that afterwards. I remember the pain and the heartache I suffered because even now, every time I think about him, I want to cry.
We had a family gathering tonight, as we usually do every saturday night, and the parents decided to start discussing primary school. My aunts want my youngest aunt to transfer her child to the primary school I went to as a child as she’s expecting her second child and they want the eldest closer so they can help with pick up. As I was listening to them discuss the school, my memory flashed to the memory of a warm hand. I remember the bony fingers clutching my own tiny fingers tightly. I remember my feelings of reluctance and I remember not wanting to hold that hand because none of the other kids held hands with their parent. I remember dragging my feet and feeling embarrassed because I wanted to be just like every other kid. I remember wishing that my mum or dad would pick me up just like everyone elses’ because it was my grandfather who picked me up. In the blistering summer heat, he would drive to my school in his old red car that had no air conditioner. He would wear his thick corduroy jacket because he was afraid of the sun’s rays. He would be extremely hot but he would still come to my school and wait outside my classroom for me. And I felt embarrassed by this.
As a child, I didn’t know any better. I was always getting bullied and all I wanted to do was become one of the popular kids. Now, I regret the way I acted. Now, I regret not chatting to him. Now, I regret the resentment I had against him as a child because now, even if I wanted to see him, I can’t and it breaks my heart. More than any pain I’ve ever received from a rejection; and even more than my biggest break up. My heart breaks to think that I took those moments for granted; that I hated those moments because now, I want them so badly.
I wish I could go back in time and make sure the childish me cherished the effort he put into picking me up. I wish I could go back in time and make sure I smiled at him when I saw him at the door instead of the disappointed frown I exhibited. I wish I could redo those moments because now they are impossible to replicate.
I guess I’m telling you this story because even though we’re all grown up now, I don’t know if you’re cherishing your moments. I don’t know whether you take the time your parents or grandparents give you for granted. Because I’m hoping you don’t. I’m hoping that you realise that the only guarantees we have in life are the past and now. Tomorrow or even the next hour might not even happen. We can’t predict the future. So treasure the time people give you. Treasure your family whether they’re biological or not. Put down your phones when you’re at dinner with them. Give them your full attention because they damn well deserve it. Don’t take them for granted because you never know when you might lose them and then spend the rest of your life crying about it like I do.