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In Memory Of My Grandparents This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   Tihe memory of that heartbreaking day is still vivid in my mind. It was just after our return from Dim Sum on a typical, cloudy Sunday, about a year ago when it happened: my grandmother passed away. Up until then, I'd taken her presence for granted. I didn't appreciate all the things she had done for me.

My grandmother was always the hopeful, jolly person that I turned to. My relationship with her was closer than with my mother. Even now I remember so clearly the weekly trips my grandparents, my older sister and I took to the Boston Common when I was about five. We played on the slides and swings while they looked on. Afterwards, we would go on the swan boats with a brown paper bag full of popcorn bought at the concession stand. I was so content to sit on the edge of my seat and feed the pigeons that flew onto the boat. My grandfather would warn me to sit down with a stern voice that I dared not disobey. As the boat went towards the gate, I would be saddened and plead to go once more. The answer was a promise to be back next Sunday. These routine visits to the Boston Common ended when I went to grade school.

As I grew, I spent less time with my grandparents. I always made an effort to see them on weekends. However, I was too exhausted after school and at times didn't bother to accompany my mother. I would also avoid going to their house by making up excuses. I did not feel guilty then, but now I regret not spending more time with them. It seems that as I got older, I grew away from the activities that I did with my family. At school, I met new friends with whom I spent most of my free time. I lost parts of my culture, slowly. Luckily, I was enrolled in a Chinese School which I attended every day for two and a half hours. There I met other kids in my situation and began to regain my heritage. I learned to be proud of who I am and how to read and write the Chinese language.

Soon my visits to my grandparents were voluntary. When I was old enough, I brought pastries to their house and passed the afternoon with them. They used to tell me old Chinese myths and legends which taught me about morals, religion and respect.

Besides educating me, my grandfather inspired my ambition to become a doctor. He was an established herbalist in Chinatown. I recollect seeing him record the progress of his patients. He cared for them until they healed. Although he did not earn much, he taught me the real reward in medicine: to feel your ability to help another human. He was an educated man who had a lot to share. During his free time, he would try to teach me the different kinds of herbs, but all to no avail. Those days I was too young to comprehend what he was telling me.

From my grandmother, I learned the essentials of survival in the outside world. She taught me to have patience and hope. With these, one could accomplish anything. It seemed evident that her theories worked since she raised nine children alone when my grandfather was in medical school at Shanghai for six years. She also tried incessantly to stop my grandfather from smoking. She knew that his fifty-year habit had yet to end, but she had hope and she believed that eventually she could convince him.

Although my grandfather never showed his affection for his wife, he cared for her tremendously. When she passed away, a part of him did also. He was so devastated that he refused to eat and soon acquired some stomach "virus." He didn't seem to have any will to live; he said everything was gone. Soon he was gone.

I remember hearing them talking into the night once when I slept over. They talked about their children. They were always there for one another.

As I look back on the past year, these incidents have contributed greatly to my maturity. I have learned to deal with the loss of a loved one with the support of friends and family. For some reason, I hesitate to become attached to anyone now, afraid that I will depend too greatly and collapse myself. It was hard for me to accept that they were gone at first. It just felt as if they were on vacation. However, when they never came back, reality struck me. I didn't have anyone to stick up for me when my parents were angry, no place to go when I was bored, and most of all, no one to talk to about old Chinese traditions. In a way, part of my heritage has faded along with their deaths. I thought we were all God's children. Does a father injure his own children? Why? n


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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sunshine said...
Dec. 20, 2013 at 1:08 am
I just lost my grandfather. He spoke mainly Spanish and also rarely showed affection towards my grandmother. But for his grandchildren, he always had on a big smile, some dollars in his hand, and a few questions in english for us followed by a big hearty laugh. I regret not spending much of any time with them when I was in high school and college. That pain from regret is so strong. But what hurts most is seeing the most gentle, kindest, compassionate, loving grandmother in pain now. F... (more »)
 
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