Tuesday, February 21, 2006
of cousins, uncles, family
My youngest maternal uncle came up to visit this past weekend. Since he's visited Seattle before, we pretty much just skipped all the touristy stuff and spent most of our time relaxing and having 'family time' - which of course for Chinese people equals going out and eating good food. Pretty much everday he was here, we went out to eat.
My uncle is a really generous person and all-around nice guy, so he's always welcome at my family's house... the other entertaining aspect for me being that having an older male relative around gives me the back-up to to survive family discussions normally dominated by mother and sister, heh.
Since I had Monday off, I also took my uncle to go visit my cousin Johnny's family and spend some time with his son Evan, who's now almost 2 years old. At that age, Evan occupies the strange stage of simultaneously walking, talking (sorta), drooling, and eating mostly Gerber. The poor kid has a ton of allergies - egg, wheat, nuts, etc. At least he's already learned to eat rice... that's the important thing, right?
I think I take for granted that my family is relatively drama-free. I sometimes hear about other people's family feuds over money, imagined insults, etc. and I just think, "Wow, I'm glad that's not my family."
Personally, I think part of my family's closeness comes from our history and the strength of my grandparents, especially my mom's side. My grandfather immigrated to this country with pretty much nothing as a "paper son" - somebody who purchased an identity to immigrate to bypass the laws banning Chinese immigration to the US. According to family lore, my grandmother had to sell her wedding jewelry in order to pay for grandfather's papers, and he labored in the US for over 7 years, trying to raise the money to bring her and his children over. Ironically, it wasn't until after he was drafted into the US Army and subsequent post-war lifting of the immigration ban, that my grandma (along with my eldest uncle) was able to join him. I also had an aunt, but she didn't make it... she died as a child in China, which I suspect was due to the harsh conditions in the country resulting from both WWII and the civil war between the Communists and Kuomintang.
Can you imagine doing that? Waiting 7 years to join the person you loved? And then finally, after being reunited, having nothing and trying to raise a family of six kids?
My grandpa and Po-po (grandma) were tough as nails, and that characteristic, whether by nature or nurture, was passed down to their kids. The six children (my mom is the eldest daughter of the six) they raised together would have been just like any other family, but their circumstances produced a special set of people - people that understood that family is something to be valued and a source of pride. I'd like to think that me and the rest of grandchildren also are fortunate to inherit a piece of my grandparents' strength, that determination and spirit that kept them going despite all challenges they had to endure. Whenever our family is together, I think we all unconsciously acknowledge that, and it helps create bond that we all share, despite the distance or busy-ness in our lives... though most of my extended family lives in California, I still feel close to them.
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