Last Friday, my sister and I took our kids to visit Grams’. It had been a couple months since our last visit. We wanted to take her flowers and food. We also had good news about Tais Neng.
When the five of us got up to Grams’ headstone, Girl grabbed the recessed vase from its sleeve and walked to the water fountain to fill it up for the sunflowers we brought for Grams.
Little Mermaid asked, “Mommy, is that hole (the sleeve) where you pour water for them (the deceased) to drink?”
As I looked into the sleeve, a bit surprised that it’s kind of deep, I chuckled and said, “No. It’s where you flip the vase upside down when you’re not using it.”
“Oh. The waters is for the flowers….” Little Mermaid realized.
Mini Mermaid peered into the hole and exclaimed, “Mommy, there’s a frog in the hole!”
I quickly stepped back. I am irrationally afraid of frogs. It’s a borderline phobia. Rhiab rhiab kuv heev li.
Little Mermaid stepped closer and looked into the hole. “There is a frog! It’s on this side and it’s trying to jump and climb out.”
The thought of a frog jumping near me frightened me even more. I yelped and stepped further back.
PJ saw her cousins get excited over the frog and looked into the hole, exclaiming that she, too, saw a frog.
By this time, Girl returned with the vase full of water. I informed her that there is a frog in the hole.
“Oh, no way. I’m not going any closer. I’m afraid of frogs,” she said.
“So am I! Who’s going to put the vase back on the headstone?”
“Are you sure there’s really a frog in there?”
“The kids say there is! I didn’t see it.”
“Yeah, we saw it, ” Little Mermaid said. “It’s this big, brown, with bumps on it. It’s a toad or a frog.”
Girl asked the kids if they would put the vase on the headstone. They all said no. For some odd reason, they no longer wanted to get close to the frog anymore.
At that moment, it occurred to me that we are visiting Grams. What if she was trying to say hi?
I said loudly, “Niam Tais es! Hnub no peb tuaj saib koj os. Yog hais tias koj los saib peb no, peb tsis ntshai koj, tab sis peb ntshai ntshai qav. Peb thov koj tsis txhob txias ua ib tug qav vim hais tias peb ntshai dhau lawm os. Cia koj txias ua ib tug npauj npaim los ib tug kab es peb thiaj li tsis ntshai. Niam Tais es, peb tsis ntshai koj nawb. Peb yeej zoo siab koj los saib peb (Oh, Grams! We’ve come to visit you today. If you’re visiting us, we’re not afraid of you, but we’re scared of frogs. We ask that you please don’t transform into a frog because it frightens us. Please transform into a butterfly or insect so that we won’t be so scared. Grams, we’re really not afraid of you. We’re actually happy that you’ve come to see us).”
After my plea to Grams, Girl slowly stepped towards the headstone and peered into the hole. There was no frog. The frog was gone. Girl put the vase on the headstone and the kids put the sunflowers in the vase.
Is it silly to believe that Grams transformed into a frog to visit us as we visited her grave? Whether it was or not, it was a really nice and comforting moment—albeit frightening at first. Grams was always someone I could depend on. I didn’t need to tell her my problems. All I needed to do was drive over and just spend the day with her. She would comfort me with her cooking, her stories, and her silliness.
Before leaving, I shared with Grams the wonderful news that Tais Neng received a kidney and her transplant was successful. Before Grams passed away, her main concern was my aunt who is hard of hearing, speaks no English, cannot drive, and was on dialysis—that is until last week. Grams would be happy.