There was a time I ate only eggs and not much else and no one could tell me different. I was eight at the time, and I pretty much ruled the world. That was, until I met her.
Aunty Yit was Dad's 2nd wife. She was a beautiful woman, but it was a nasty kind of beautiful. She had a death stare like the worst of them, except hers was accentuated by a pair of tattooed eyebrows - the sort that was perpetually in a state of fury. And, she didn't take shit from bratty little 8-year-olds.
"Eat!" she boomed. My blood curdled as I quickly raised my fork and stuffed a glob of lifeless, overcooked spinach into my mouth. It tastes like shit. Shit, seasoned with the salt from the sweat of my brow. I gave it a couple of feeble chews and gulped my misery down.
"Eat!" It was the very word that would shape my life, and unfortunately my adult body. (Which is overly large, in case you were wondering.) It was the word that heralded the beginning of my relationship with her.
Aunty Yit was toughs as nails, intelligent and funny all at the same time. And she loved children as much as she loved tormenting them. Although I painted her as the embodiment of the wicked stepmother in my childhood, I would learn over time, that she loved me as one of her own. And she loved Mae, Jesse and Maddie too.
Aunty Yit passed away on 6th July 2012. She had lived 65 years but the last six of those she spent battling cancer. She spent the last few months putting her affairs in order and gave us explicit instructions that her funeral arrangement was to be simple, cheerful, and full of eating. Aunty Yit was cremated and laid to rest in the ocean. And immediately after, we ate.
"Eat!" she said, and we did. And with that, Aunty Yit left my life as she came into it.
Footnote: A day after the funeral, we tried explaining to Maddie what had happened to her Grandma. "Do you know where Grandma is?" we asked. "Grandma is sleeping in the oven," she said. Hahaha. If Aunty Yit had lived to hear that, she would have enjoyed it immensely.