I don't think about the idea of having my own family often, if at all. I almost can't imagine that far into the future--hell, I don't even plan what I'm eating for the day until I happen across food that appeals to me in the moment. But this past weekend, being reunited with my (paternal) cousins, aunts and uncles to surprise my grandpa for his 90th birthday and to celebrate two of my cousins' pregnancies with a surprise double baby shower made me think a lot about family and how lucky I am to have this one.
|Family (and friends) gather to celebrate Grandpa Lee. (Photo from Mel)|
|Baby shower brunch--silly picture! (Photo from Mel)|
|Girl cousin picture! (1995)|
|Na and me with Grandpa (I think 1992?)|
I'm excited to think about the additions to our family/FamiLee (lols) through marriages and children because the love that already exists is so overwhelming and how could you not want others to be a part of this? Sure, like any family, there are conflicts and disagreements, and I hear too often about so-and-so bickering with so-and-so, but in my opinion, none of that is relevant when it comes to the core of family love. The idea of having children will occasionally find me cringing, but I think I would want to have kids so that they could meet these wonderful individuals.
|Grandpa at the house we all call home.|
The more I hear, the more I want to hear, but that communication barrier between my grandparents and me exists all too prominently. It makes me wish I'd taken more care to practice my Cantonese so I could talk to my grandpa about his days serving the Nationalist army or I could ask my grandma about nursing school and about how she and my grandpa met during the war. I would ask my grandpa about how things were when they left China after the communists won and I'd want to know about the process and journey by sea to America, and what it was like from his eyes when they first stepped onto shore.
But all I have for now are photos and smatterings of stories passed down. There are so many more photos stored in multiple albums that we've been trying to scan for digital preservation. I love looking at these photos because they tell the story so well. It's probably why I was so obsessed with taking photos all throughout high school and college--because I've always had this secret fear that I'd forget it all and need the reminder. What would I tell my children when I couldn't remember a significant moment or two? But if they could see it...then it'd be like they were living it too.
|Far left: Grandma, two friends from the boat, Grandpa and one of my uncles.|
A short stop in Hawaii on the way to America (1964).
It's heartbreaking to think about the reality of mortality, and I don't want to even picture that inevitable day. I know I'm lucky to have those shared memories with my cousins of life at my grandparents' house though. It may not have been the most traditional upbringing, but it's all I know and I'm glad for it.