Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Kung Kung

My grandfather (Kung Kung) on my mum's side had a stroke last Wednesday. Followed by two more additional smaller strokes. The past week has been a blur of juggling hospital shifts with my siblings, taking care of my Poh Poh (grandma), and making sure the babies (plural, because my sister came up immediately with her 3 in tow) were taken care of.

This hasn't been a good year for grandpas in the Dotytron-Lagerfeld family tree. The brain is a funny, miraculous thing, though. Unlike with Poppa, whose cancer had progressed to the point where you knew it was an end-of-life care scenario, Kung Kung's situation is quite different - more touch and go. The doctors want us to be prepared for the worst but at the same time, he's still here, a week later, talking, lucid, complaining, knowing who we are. He can't move the left side of his body and he can be a bit confused sometimes - asking for his mother, reaching for a glass, etc. Other times he can be really funny - he's such a wily old fox. He really wants to get out of bed and on Sunday, when I spent a chunk of time with him, he kept asking to get out of bed, "just one step!" he said. When I told him that he couldn't, because he was attached to an IV, and we'd need a nurse to put it back in, he said, "I'll put it back in!" He's also been asking for milk tea and Perrier, with ice.

I've definitely seen the dark side of socialized medicine this past week. The hospital he's at is less than stellar and there have been numerous complications - it was impossible to get a doctor to see him, he apparently had pneumonia which was undiagnosed for THREE DAYS, and on the weekends, the hospital is a ghost town - the nurses are harried and didn't notice his IV was put in incorrectly until one of my mum's friends pointed it out. It's scary.

It's going to be a long, long road. Poh Poh and Kung Kung have been married for sixty two years. She's very much lost without him, as he's been taking care of her for that long. She doesn't really know what to do without him and even now, he's still taking care of her. When I was asking my grandma whether she took her eye drops and she said yes, I was giving her a hard time because I knew she hadn't. Out of nowhere, my grandpa, who I had thought was sound asleep, chastised me, "don't be mean to Poh Poh!" in Chinese. She has been reminiscing about how they met. How he was a total shrimp - short, skinny, and a bit of a country boy. How she didn't want to give him the time of day at first, because as she says, he didn't know how to do anything. Didn't know how to dance, didn't know how to ride horses, didn't know about a lot of things she loved to do, all he knew how to do was play mah jong. She told us how he pursued her - how he would stand in front of her desk at work and make fake bird calls that would say, "want to go for a date?" "yes! yes!" She's been talking about how clever he was - joining the Hong Kong civil service at age 16 and eventually rising to the rank of Chief Registrar. There is a whole generation of people in Hong Kong who have Kung Kung's signature on their birth certificates, marriage licenses, and death certificates.

These scenarios stretch a family to its limits and there has been a fair amount of heightened tempers. It's hard on everyone. There is no real graceful way to navigate through this - I'm so glad I have my siblings. And the Dotytron, who has been so incredible, at one point he was in charge of the two babies AND Miss Ramona and Little Ze. I came home from my shift at the hospital to find that Miss Ramona had lost a tooth, they had done some finger painting (pictures for Kung Kung's room), and he had two babies peacefully lying on the play mat. It was very sweet. The other sweet thing was that Little Ze woke up the next morning when Miss Ramona was rejoicing in her Tooth Fairy money claiming that he saw the Tooth Fairy the night before. According to him, the Tooth Fairy looked like a tiny flea and it was sparkly and had a blue light (it was a boy). I don't know how I'd be able to navigate through this without my brothers and sister and the Dotytron - and friends, too (you know who you are!)

On Sunday night, the Dotytron and I were having dinner at Gal's Sushi in Markham. We had one of those ESP moments where we both wanted the same things from the giant menu without consulting each other. I was telling him about how my grandparents had a true love story and how the Dotytron and I love each other, but it's different from the way my grandparents adore each other. The Dotytron took offense to that and claimed to adore me. I was like, "no you don't!" and he said, "the only reason I don't is because you would see that as a form of weakness and take every opportunity to capitalize on it and exploit it" LOL. So true! Then he followed it up with, "of course I adore you, just look at how I've been following you around this sushi tray" and I looked at the decimated platter and realized he had been following me around it. I'd have a piece of butterfish, and then he would, etc. Pretty darned cute.

Well, you know I'm not going to talk about something being pretty darned cute without segueing into a discussion of the Boobla. He's a grinning, happy, babbling mess right now. My mum has been calling him "Dai Fan Shu" which means "big yam" after a character with that name from this classic Chinese comic called Old Master Q - about the exploits of Old Master Q (aka Lao Fu Zi). Big yam is the one on the top right in the picture below - you can see the resemblance - big goofy smile, giant head, squat little body, extensive forehead:

Here are some recent shots of my Big Yam, laughing his head off:

Looking like such a little boy in the outfit his Auntie T got him:

and finally, chilling with his his cousin:


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