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Bon Journal

Hard to please

My father is visiting and telling me stories of my his 91 year old mother.

My grandmother is probably the most difficult woman to please. And I wonder whether I will become just like her, if I don't be careful. Already, when I book hotels, I spend too much time making sure that I'm getting value for money.

Grandma has a live-in housekeeper who knows exactly how she wants her food cooked. The rice must be cooked to death several times. Because her teeth aren't strong enough to bite and chew, she prefers to eat pork fat and chicken skin. She doesn't like to eat out. So every meal has to be freshly prepared. This means that her housekeeper has to go shopping every morning.

She is also sensitive to price. If the price of watermelon goes up by any noticeable amount, she would switch to another fruit.

She has slept on her own bed for many decades, always on the right side. Her day runs like clockwork. Old habits die hard.

Visiting my grandmother is a ritual. I would always jump on her bed and fumble through old photo albums in the shelves behind her bed. To her, I will always be a little kid. I'm used to her ways. I don't expect her to adapt to the rapidly changing world outside. So when I see her, I'm still the same.

When I get to be her age, if I'm lucky enough to live that long, I will surely be as hard to please as she is. Already I shun noise. I shun light when I sleep. I dislike bureaucracy, arrogance, and rudeness. And I don't like to wait or be late. But if you live to be that age, you are allowed to be picky about some things!

13 July 2001

grandma, grandpop, dad
early photo: grandma, grandpa, and dad
When my grandmother goes out to eat, she must remember to bring three things: her spectacles, her false teeth, and her fan.