My grandfather — my father’s father — died earlier this month. Tomorrow, I’m flying to Houston to spend time with family and attend his funeral.
My grandfather led an enormously productive life (as you can read in his obituary), but my brothers and I mostly got to know him better after he retired in 1997 and settled with my grandmother in a house 10 miles from our own home. A significant language barrier lay between my generation and him, but I knew him as a stern yet benevolent patriarchal figure who was largely content to spend his retirement in peace and to observe us quietly as we grew from rambunctious, bickering kids to generally functioning adults.
Every Sunday night for years, we’d drive over for family dinner. Every Christmas, Thanksgiving and Chinese New Year, my father’s two brothers would fly down and join us for a food-filled celebration. These were rituals that we could count on. At first, as an oblivious, sometimes bratty kid, I resisted particularly the weekly dinners, for which my grandmother often cooked up seven different Chinese dishes from scratch. But over the years, I learned to appreciate these times and, especially once I went to college, my grandmother’s cooking. I therefore made a point of visiting my grandparents every time I was in town during college and afterwards.
My grandfather won’t be present at Jeff’s and my wedding — one reason we booked a Texas venue was so my grandparents could attend — but it’s okay. He served his country for 54 years in three (I think) different countries, and earned his long, quiet retirement. He lived to see one of my generation get married and to meet one of his two great-granddaughters, and he liked Jeff and knew of our engagement.
In Chinese culture, it is important to honor your elders, and in addition to attending his funeral and spending time with family, writing this blog is the best way I can honor and remember my grandfather.
Rest in peace, Grandpa.
- You can read more about my grandfather’s life and see pictures here.