Twilight Years

Audrey Tay Aik Ling

Nanyang Technological University

As the oldest in the family, my grandmother is in her twilight years (final years of her life). Unlike my other family members who are always out and busy with life, work and studies, she is somebody that I see everyday, always in the same places, doing the same things. Like clockwork, her daily routine starts as early as 6am and ends at 10pm. She does not leave the house unless somebody brings her out, as she is unable to see and walk properly. Life, it seems, has come to a standstill for her. Even though she finds contentment in doing the simplest things (an appointment at the hair salon, watching tv, playing cards..etc), it seems to me that there is a hint of loneliness underneath it all. Somehow, she always looks cheerful and serene, despite her mundane daily life. Perhaps she is used to spending most of her days alone, but maybe she doesnít enjoy it entirely.

As her granddaughter, I often have to help her with things that she has difficulty doing. Getting down on all fours to search for a tiny lost earring on the floor, buttoning her blouse, reading complicated labels on her medicine packets and translating it for her. All these simple things could be done with ease, yet she struggles with them due to her aging body. As much as she looks forward or tries to do things that a former younger her would have been able to do easily, she struggles. The physical presence of aging and deteriorating looms over her. It occurred to me that my grandmother is slipping away, she is fading day by day.

In this project, I play the part of an observer, and I hope for the viewer to be one too. The photos are split into two parts, meant to be a juxtaposition of the more content, seemingly normal side of her with the lonelier, worn out her. It is a documentation of the lifestyle, emotions, and activities that my grandmother goes through in her daily lif