Friday, July 4, 2008

到时候再说,爷爷 / Goodbye, Grandpa.

My grandfather (step-grandfather technically, but the only 爷爷 I
ever knew) died about a week ago.

Somehow, I am always off in Asia when my grandparents kick off
this mortal coil. (I'd like to think that they'd approve of my ever-
increasing activity in the motherlands.)

Last summer, my maternal grandmother died when I was in 北京,
and my mom didn't bother telling me until... December, I think it
was.

Sentimental family I got.

Anyways, the second funeral in half a year for my dad's side of
the family. Right before Christmas, my paternal great-uncle Fong
had a heart attack, so we went down to VA for his memorial
service (documented here).

I hope my 奶奶's doing okay. The old earth been through many a
sadness these last few days. But she is a pretty solid believer in
God's mercy, which loves and holds on to those He calls to Himself,
so I think she will keep on living proper-like. After all,

We ain't dead yet, is we???

"To live is Christ, to die is gain" - Paul, the Letter to Philippians,
Book 1, Line 21

Since I couldn't myself be at the funeral, consider this little joint on
the iNternets my tribute, catharsis, and respect paid.

All praises due to the Most High.

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Grandma; Great-aunt.

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Tori (sister); ma.

Every time I see a picture of her, I get surprised at how growed-
up Tori be looking. Man don't nobody be catching feelings or man
thoughts. I will straight up smack a dude, no games.

Photo credits: all pictures blatantly stole from Tori.

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Grandpa.

I remember one of the last times that we were in DC (beginning of
last summer? Two Christmases ago? Spring Break?) and Grandpa
was still (比较) lucid and mobile.

We were putting on our shoes, grabbing all the mad food that
Grandma always insists on us taking home, and picking up our bags
to get out the door. As we left, Grandpa (already worn too thin and
easily tired to escort us downstairs, to our car) leaned in to hug me
good-bye.

"I'm getting old," he whispered in my ear. "Do you know how old I
am?"

"Ninety-seven, right?"

He continued right on, his hearing aid not picking me up: "Ninety-
seven. That's not bad. I'm very old."

I think he knew. No, of course he did; you don't live that long and not
know what's coming. You've seen it happening around you; I can
only imagine. The friends, the acquaintances, the familiar public
figures, disappearing one by one. The world growing young; un-
familiar.

I know he was tired, and I think he didn't mind, either. That's the
beautiful thing. Time to finally rest.

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He loved that cap. For the last few years, every time
that we would go to visit him and grandma in DC, he
would be ailing to some degree. The wind didn't really
suit him no more in his last years, so he would usually
roll out with the ball cap on. I think it was an Army-
Navy game hat. Grandpa was a public servant for many
a year in D.C., which is why he and my grandma
wound up in Bethesda, MD.

Dead bodies always look thin.

One day we'll be filled up again.

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儿子们 meet the 老朋友们.

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My family's wreath.

Word is bond, though my dad was actually
Grandpa's stepson, dude was always real proper to
us. He was always real happy to see us when we
would roll through the area.

One of the things he was real proud of living to see
was me attending Yale. Ever since four years ago
(back when things was less hazy for him), when I
got accepted to the school, he started calling me
"Yale man".

(Of course, as dude had mad accent, it actually came
out more like "Yellow man" but that is all right too.)

I know he started losing a lot of things in the last few
years, including most of his English (you could tell...
as he regressed into second childhood, his first
language, 广东话, Cantonese, was his weapon of
choice), but one thing he always held on to was that
his grandson was at Yale. He told me (a couple times
actually... but that is also fine) that, sometime right
after World War II, he and his boss, also a Yale
graduate, visited Yale on some official business for the
State Department. This connection, the nigh-mythical
continuity of that Ivy League institution, was
something that he clung onto over the last few years.
It was a bridge for us, something we could hold in
common, even as reaching and tenuous as it was.

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Uncle Jojo. As my dad's generation grows into their 40s and 50s,
I start to see them in each other.

Wonder how Tori, Sarah, Ryan and I are gonna look in 2040???

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Aunt Mary, Uncle Fong's widow, and two of their girls.

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Aunt Tanya; Sarah; Ryan; Uncle Jojo.

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Ma, Tori, Sarah.

I remember that girl from when she was, like, 0 years old. The
fact that she now has an AIM screenname still bugs me out.

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Great-aunt; Grandma.

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Uncle Jeffrey & fam. I also remember Crystal from when she was
barely born. Snap.

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You know how 中国人 do it... always gotta have the mad mad
crew up in the buffet. Birthday, funeral, after church, Wednesday
night, whatever!

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Goodbye, Grandpa.

See you when things are made right.

1 comment:

  1. That was touching.

    Condolences and prayers, Jason.

    ReplyDelete