Ghost Month Focus: Remembering Puoh Puoh and Old Canton

It’s currently Zhong Yuan, or Ghost Month, when it is traditionally believed that spirits of deceased visit their loved ones in the world of the living for a brief sojourn before returning to the underworld. In the old days, people placed offerings of fruits, meats and other treats on their household shrines or on the roadside to welcome “hungry ghosts” home, burning paper money so the spirits may take it with them to use in the other world. Nowadays, you can transfer over just about any object that can be made out of paper.

In my household, it’s become a Ghost Month tradition to remember one person in particular. She was an important part of my early life and inseparable from a certain way of life. We were unable to say a proper goodbye to each other. So I think of her this time every year. This year, I’m finally going to take the plunge and share those precious memories with you. She is my “Puoh Puoh” (Cantonese for grandma), whom I refer to in English as my Cantonese Grandma.

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Remembering My Grandmother

My grandmother or 姥姥 (lao lao – the northern term for one’s maternal grandmother), passed away earlier this month. She was the last of my living grandparents and the biological grandparent to whom I felt closest.

The suddenness of her passing, and the physical distance between us meant that I could not be there to say goodbye and see her off. After the initial intense sadness, I was able to come to some kind of closure, with the loving help and support of my wonderful partner, by carrying out a simple farewell ritual for her in our local park. I would also like to remember her in my writing.

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