My grandmother is returning to the United States today after spending the summer in Taiwan.
Jeff and I, with my Uncle Doug, planned a surprise visit to Taiwan for her birthday a few weeks ago. In the week we spent there, we explored and ate a lot in the Taipei area. Even better, I learned a lot more about my grandmother and the storied life she’s led.
The daughter of a newspaper publisher and the wife of a lifelong diplomat, my grandmother raised three sons, worked for a time as a translator at the United Nations and had a professional relationship with Madame Chiang Kai-shek. I’ve always known her to be proper, dignified and reserved — no surprise, given her role as a diplomat’s spouse — but as we spent time with her, she let slip a playful, almost whimsical side that was new and delightful to me.
Case in point: The below photo, which I took after her birthday lunch outside a Japanese-style teahouse.
I’d asked her to stand next to the bicycle for her birthday photo. She suggested she pretend to ride it — even though she admitted she’d always been terrible at riding bicycles.
This is easily my favorite photo I’ve ever taken of her.
I’m really glad we got to spend so much time with my grandmother in Taiwan, and I look forward to seeing her on U.S. soil soon enough.
More film from the trip to come.