Middle-of-the-night phone calls are very rarely good. This one comes at about five in the morning. It’s my granddad. He needs help to go to the hospital.
He almost never asks for help like this, so we know it’s serious. My mum and I head over immediately to whisk him to the hospital. I go up to his flat to help him to the car.
“I just feel very dizzy and off-balance. I don’t feel good at all.” He clutches my hand, not in the usual way. Instead of just clasping the hand of his little granddaughter he’s actually using me as a support. That’s worrying.
By the time we get downstairs, though, the subject matter’s changed. “I saw the football last night. What a shame! We were winning and then we let Kedah score two goals in a matter of minutes! What is wrong with our defense?”
I relax. It can’t be that bad if he’s still got the strength to complain about the football.
As an 86-year-old with a pre-existing heart condition he gets whisked through Emergency fairly quickly, leaving my mum and I in the freezing waiting room (why is it necessary for the air-conditioning to be turned on full blast?) staring out at the morning drizzle, cold and hungry. The food court’s closed for renovations. “NO FOOD TO EATTTTT!” my mum wails at the lightening sky. We crack up laughing in a way that’s totally inappropriate for a hospital waiting room.
It’s about nine hours before my granddad gets a proper bed. In that time my mum and I had been to the McDonald’s drive-through, caught up on sleep and watched a couple episodes of The Game of Thrones.
We hear that he may have had a mini-stroke, but they’re still doing tests and observing him. Apart from the dizziness he’s fine, though, cracking jokes with the nurses and generally enjoying the Class A room his pensioner status gets him. He’s the last generation of Singaporean to enjoy these healthcare benefits, so he makes sure to make the most of it for as long as he can. The only time my granddad gets cable is from a hospital bed.
The next middle-of-the-night call comes at six in the morning. I jolt awake again and lunge for the phone. He’s already in hospital, what could it be this time?
Doop. Doop. Doop-doop-doop…
“Granddad, stop pressing buttons, I’m here already! Hello? Hello?”
He finally puts the phone to his ear. “Hello? Huh? Who is this?”
“Kiki, it’s you? What are you doing on the phone?”
“What? You called me!”
“No I didn’t. I was calling Uncle Smarty.”
“Yeah, I heard you try, but you called me.”
“No I didn’t.”
“Then how come I’m on the phone?”
“I don’t know. Anyway, I was going to call Uncle Smarty. I feel much better. They think it’s my inner ear. All right, go back to sleep, bye!”
He hangs up on me. Granddad always hangs up on people; he just cuts you off when he’s done with you.
I put the phone back on the hook and go back to sleep. It’ll take a lot more than an inner ear issue to take the unstoppable little granddad down.
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