I was born in a communist country in Europe. When I was six years old, my mother divorced and we moved out from my father's place to live with her mother. As a little child, I never really liked my grandmother much and could never seem to relate to her, unlike my father's mother, who was always very close to me and extremely kind.
I used to be very naughty to my grandmother. I would throw towels out of the 8th story apartment and make her go and pick them up. I would bite her in the arms really hard until black and blue circular bruises would show.
Some months after we moved in with her, my grandmother suffered a stroke. Following her stroke, my grandmother lost her ability to speak clearly. I used to tease her for not being able to speak, deliberately pronouncing words the way she did and make fun of her in front of her. She had a wood fire stove and I would find dry-cell batteries around the house and throw them into the fire to make explosions. I knew that I could get away with it because my grandmother, now could not speak clearly to complain to my mother.
Even at such early age, I would sometimes later feel sorry of doing these things to her. But somehow, I could not help myself, and seemed to get delight from teasing her.
Sometime later my grandmother had a second stroke. It put her into hospital permanently. I remember we would visit her as a family, my uncle and auntie, my cousins and my mother. Upon seeing my grandmother in the hospital bed, I would feel guilty that it was my fault, my teasing her and troubling her that made her have the stroke. My grandmother, although she could not speak a word now, would always look at me with kindness and reach out to hold my hand as she lay on the hospital bed.
In 1986, my mother and I together with my step-father emigrated to Brisbane Australia. I was 11 years old at the time. We settled into a relatively new 3-brm housing commission home. Australia was like a breath of fresh air for me, it was warm, the teachers were so nice at school, and the kids would treat me well. I soon had new friends and was quickly forgetting all about my past childhood back in Europe. As far as my grandmother was concerned, I never gave her another thought. Or so I thought...
It was early 1987. I was happy and excited living in this new country. I used to be an early riser and one morning I awoke, to the sight of my grandmother standing a few feet to the side of my bed. She looked just as I remembered her, except that she was white. I didn't feel scared, just surprised to see her. She just stood there looking at me for a few seconds and before I could say anything, she spoke these exact words: "Don't you remember me Kamcho?" With that, she just vanished in an instant as if you turned off a light. I was still as a bird for a long time in bed and swore there and then that I would never reveal to anyone what had just happened. I would never tell my mother, or my stepfather or anyone this event.
The next morning we received post from my uncle (my mother's brother). It contained my grandmother's death certificate. It said she died some weeks before.