Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Tail of the Holidays... and a Little Memoir

Time always rushes away to a new year once it hits Thanksgiving. This year was not an exception. I love the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Christmas music is on. Christmas lighting is on. Never ending cookies and chocolates... It's hectic, but cheerful and lively. Now Christmas is behind us, I feel the time is going a little bit slower.

My friend in Japan facebooked about the little package I sent to her. Glad to hear she enjoyed the caramel popcorn. Yes, I sent her a trouble... a super addictive, rocket high calorie munch.

My parents called me when they got their package. They put one of the CDs I sent them so I could hear it over the phone. Their voices were full of excitement, which brought me a big smile.

Since my grand mother past away right after Thanksgiving, things haven't been easy. I missed her funeral. As our custom, they have a wake at the night a person past and a funeral on the next day. There was no way I could make it to the funeral. So, my parents didn't tell me until they finished the funeral. My mother was wrecked. She was crying and tying to accept what happened and find more things she should have done for her mother. I was very upset because I couldn't find words to comfort her and be there with her to hold her hands. What kind of a daughter am I? Something like this happens the distance always sits in my way. But this is one of the consequences of my decision on my life... something I need to live with. I never be able to wipe my guilt to my family about this.

A couple weeks prier to the day my grand mother past, Nana, the next door neighbor, crossed the rainbow. It was a very quiet death. She was ninety eight. Marilyn and I visited her a week before she past. She was sleeping peacefully. Marilyn gave her kisses on her face. Nana never opened her eyes. Thinking back, Marilyn knew Nana's time was running out. Kissing Nana was her way of saying good bye. In fact, she doesn't look for Nana anymore whenever we go to her house. Marilyn used to look for her when she didn't see Nana. She knows Nana is gone.

Nana was such a grand mother figure. A little old lady with gray curly hair and glasses. She read newspaper, played cross word puzzles, taught her great grand children crocheting, and enjoyed baking. She had a quite sense of humor, too. Whenever Marilyn visited her, she petted her with her small hand saying "Good dog." She loved company. We always had a great time with her. We just love Nana. She always reminded me my grand mother. Spending time with Nana comforted me making feeling like being with my own grand mother. And, I hoped my grand mother would be hanging out with somebody like Nana did. I feel I lost two grand mothers at once.

My grand mother was also a small lady. She was a determined brave woman. Her husband, my grand father, worked for a government own coal company. This is a story in 1940s. Japan had invaded Manchuria for their resources. The movie, The Last Emperor, describes the history pretty accurately. He seemed to be one of the engineers sent to Manchuria. He took his family there. Then, he received a pink slip. It was 1945. He never came back to his family. She was still in Manchuria on August 15th in 1945. As soon as she got the news that Japan lost, my grand mother started walking toward the coast holding her baby with other Japanese people in the community. It was not an easy trip. A lot of families gave up their children on the way for their survival—both the parents' and the children's. They left their children to Chinese families. Unfortunately, most of the children left behind would have tough lives after that. But, my grand mother never gave up her baby. She brought her baby back to Japan with her. The baby was my mother. My mother never forgets to appreciate her mother's courage and determination to protect her baby. You wouldn't believe she did it if you saw her. She was a small humble old lady.

My grand mother told me the story only once. Something reminded her her husband. She started, "My husband was a great person. He was smart, hard working..." That was her tough memory to talk about. I guess she sealed it deep in her mind. I never asked her about my grand father before and after that. I know one thing for sure. Without her achievement, I wouldn't exist today.

When Chad and I were invited to the Christmas dinner at the next door, Shirley, Nana's daughter, said "Have some apple pie though this is not Nana's..." The table was hard to fill without Nana's apple pie. Nobody believes their parents would die until that happens.

I called my mother one week after they told me the news. My father said "Mother does not keep crying anymore. She is moving forward". My mother said "I'm doing better. My friend is coming over to check on me today. I have your father. Your thinking makes me feel better. I'll be ok". TLC from people around her has been supporting her. She also stepped up to accept their TLC. I think that makes my grand mother happy. I guess people who past would worry about their loved ones they left behind. If they see their loved ones get strength to look ahead and make their positive move, and they have people who support them to do so, that must be a great relief to ones who crossed over.

I miss my grand mother a lot. She was my only grand mother since my father's parents had past before my parents got married. Just so many great memories with her... A good thing is we would lose none of them. I talked about her a lot with my parents. That's comforting to us. So, I visit Shirley. We just talk. Marilyn joins us sometime. Shirley's families often visit her. I hope Nana feels good about what she sees from there.

The little kids' like excited voices of my parents were the best Christmas gift to me... especially this year. To get this again, I might even break my bank.

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