Friday, May 4, 2012

Changes and Goodbyes

"What we are tempted to call a disaster is sometimes the first, painful stage of a blessing."
- Stephen Mitchell, The Frog Price: A Fairy Tale for Consenting Adults

This adorable little critter recently appeared in my parents' koi pond. We think he may be the little bullfrog I gave my dad last year on Father's Day, all grown-up. He reminds me that change is inevitable, and it's better to roll with change rather than resist it and let changes become overwhelming. My family just experienced a big change this week.

My grandmother died on Saturday morning at the age of ninety. She had a long, beautiful life, and was loved by so many people. She raised eight sons with humor and grace, easily made friends because she always took a sincere interest in the people around her, and was never judgmental or looked down on others. When I went through a hard time in high school, I felt uncomfortable around a lot of people--but never her, because she was so warm and accepting. I wish I could be more like her.

Her funeral yesterday morning was painful because I didn't get to know her as well as I'd have liked, and I regret that. My family left Illinois when I was a child, and after that we only visited on holidays. But I don't believe that everything ends for us when our lives on earth end, and I do believe that she is somewhere better now--perhaps with Grandpa. I hope that what is painful for us is a blessing for her.

All crinkle-faced and salty-eyed, I told Keith, "I don't have grandparents anymore." He said, "If we're both lucky, I'll get to share mine with you." Of course, I was so touched that I just cried more! If you still have grandparents, get to know them. Visit them and ask them questions about their youth. Learn about how they met each other, what it was like to live during the war, what their careers were like, and what your parents were like as children. You might be surprised. When I was younger, I asked Grandma about her life and learned that she met Grandpa in a bomb factory! They both worked there during World War II. She was a farmer's daughter turned Rosie the Riveter--what a surprise!

On a happier note, the family continues to grow. Tomorrow morning the family returns to Illinois to celebrate my cousin Melissa's wedding, and it will be so good to see everyone again under better circumstances. I'm looking forward to introducing Keith to the family and sharing lots of laughter with my goofy uncles. I hope you have a good weekend, too!


  1. Okay...mad at Blogger for eating up my first comment. I second your statement about spending as much time with grandparents (shared or otherwise) as possible. They are living history. And I empathize with the guilt that comes with loss. What a strange mishmash of emotions to cram into a week. Share lots of hugs with family (new and old).

    1. Grr, Blogger! Thank you for trying again. Don't you love hearing their stories? I was often shy about asking my grandparents to tell stories, but I treasure the stories I did hear. What are your favorites? Blog them sometime? :)

  2. I'm sorry for your loss, Jen. Ninety is quite a feat though. My grandma raised me until I was 3 but after we moved away, my Chinese isn't what it used to be. It's often hard to communicate with her and it sucks that I don't know her as well as I want to. All we can do is take it a day at a time and just be thankful they were in our lives in the first place.

    1. Thank you. It's sad when we can't get to know family as well as we'd like, isn't it?

      When you were a child, did you speak Cantonese or Mandarin? My sister lives in Hong Kong with her Chinese husband. She is trying to learn Cantonese, but says it's very difficult for an English speaker to hear and reproduce the tones correctly. She demonstrated some of the vowel sounds, and I couldn't even tell the difference between them! It's a beautiful language, but so difficult.

  3. Replies
    1. Thank you. I really do appreciate it. It's so rewarding to meet people and find support here through blogging.


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