Growing up, I had only my two younger siblings, my parents, and grandmother. I remember my parents would work day and night every day and had only a little or no time on the weekend for us. They would usually come home around nine p.m., or sometimes even later.
My grandma, she’s my best friend, but you’ll never hear me say that to a South East Asian relative who doesn’t even acknowledge words such as sorry, thank you, I love you, etc.
From the time I was three, I remember my grandma being there for me when I needed her the most. She’s like my second mom: she helps me with my homework, she buys me things that I want, and she helps me understands what to expect in the future.
But sometimes I would wonder why she is here in America. Don’t get me wrong, I love her and everything, but I sometimes wondered why she chose to live in America instead of Cambodia, where most of her relatives are. She always told me she came to America thinking she would have a better life here.
But when I was little I didn’t really appreciate all she did for me. Not until one day when I was ten. I remember I was a bit stupid and selfish. I had come back from a shopping trip with my mom one afternoon. I had bought sweet bread that I couldn’t wait to eat it. I left the bread out on the counter to go get something from my kitchen. When I came back, I saw my grandmother had eaten almost all of the bread. I was furious. I guess my hunger had overtaken me. I half yelled, half asked, “Why have you eaten almost all of the bread!” She told me that she just wanted a little bite. I told her that she ate, like, all of it. She was quiet and started tearing up. It was the first time I had ever yelled at her.
When I saw my grandmother cry for the first time, I realized then and there that I was the most despicable person in that household. I was speechless. My grandmother left the living room. My sister and cousin told me that what I did was the rudest thing ever. I agreed with them. But me, being the stubborn person I am, I refused to apologize. A week went by and I didn’t apologize, even though I knew I was wrong. My mom noticed the tension between my grandma and me. She asked me what was happening, and I didn’t say anything. Then she asked my sister, and she told her. My mom then forced me to apologize.
When I did apologize for my terrible behavior, my grandma told me that it was okay and that she should’ve asked first. But when I heard those words, deep down inside I wanted to cry.
I realized I didn’t really appreciate my grandma as much as I thought. She took so much care of me as an infant and had spent most of her life caring for me when my mom and dad were working. If it wasn’t for my grandma being here in America, to take care of me when I was sick, sad, angry, I wouldn’t know who to turn to besides my parents or siblings.
For all I know, she would have had a better life in Cambodia than here in America. She would probably get treated differently and much better, but no, she decided to stay here with us. And for that I am very grateful. I’m so grateful that I have someone as generous as my grandma to be by my side when I need someone the most, even when I’m mad at her sometimes. She’s not only my grandmother who cares for me, but she’s also my best friend who will always be there for me.