The spring I turned seven, my maternal grandmother came to visit us at our new house in the suburb to celebrate two things: my birthday and my first participation in the annual concert of the local music school I had recently started attending. I had been taking piano lessons at this school along with my two best friends since a year ago, and it was our first time to perform solo in front of an audience.
My grandmother was very excited to be there for my special day. The day before the concert, she travelled from her home in the countryside by trains, with a heavy backpack full of handmade food items that only she could make.
On the day of the event, my grandmother stayed with me while my mother handled the logistics of the day. When my two best friends and I got changed into our pale pink dresses and played in the lobby while waiting for our turns, she watched us, with a huge happy smile on her face, complimenting on how we all looked like princesses. She also eagerly chatted with my friends’ mothers and one of my friend’s grandparents who were also there.
To me, it was just a big fun day when I got to wear a real dress that I wasn’t normally allowed to wear, spend a few minutes playing the piano on stage, and play around with my best friends for the whole day. But looking at my grandmother, I felt something else. Dressed up in one of her best clothes and smiling and chatting happily with others in the room, I could see that she was having a truly special day.
The day after the music concert, my grandmother, mother and I went to do some shopping in the city centre. First, my grandmother bought me my birthday present – a huge plush doll of Doraemon – answering my wish that I had had for the past six months. Then we went to a few department stores to look for good clothes for my grandmother, a gift from my mother to her mother. In between, we would stop at a food court inside one of the shopping malls for a quick lunch break.
Looking back, I can recall the excitement of the days we had together during my grandmother’s visit. Her arrival at the train station, the day of my music concert, followed by a fun shopping day. And throughout all those moments, I remember how happy my grandmother looked. Not the passive kind, but the real one, where she was smiling because she was really having a great time of her life.