Thursday, 20 January 2011

Maolin adventure

Snapshots from reporting on hiking and purple crow butterfly watching in Maolin, Kaohsiung.

Monday, 10 January 2011

Talking about Grandma

Finished the last of the interviews today. I recorded them with my very basic DSLR. Now waiting to see if my cousins overseas will send theirs in.

We talked about what Grandma loved and who she was as a wife, a mother, grandmother and great grandmother.

We talked about how she loved so much to pass out red envelopes the night before Chinese New Year's eve. All of us little ones would surround Grandma who had her reading glasses on, waiting patiently to be handed a red envelope (hongbao) with our name written on it. Even the adults got one too. She loved doing it so much that she kept passing out hongbao until Grandpa died ten years ago, Which means my father, uncles and aunts were getting hongbao until their 50's. It sounds ridiculous that these middle aged people are still getting hongbao from their parents, but Grandma loved her kids and showed it in all the ways possible.

My aunt told the story of how she was raised in my grandfather's household, from the age of four. Contrary to what it sounds (童養媳), she was not sold to the family. Her parents and Grandpa's parents were very good friends and the marriage was decided before both were born. My aunt said that people those days had the wisdom to marry their daughters off early - before the daughters grow too old and can't or won't marry anymore (ha). Grandpa's mother passed away very early, so Grandma became in charge of the entire household from a very early age in a time when Taiwan was still very poor. She raised Grandpa's younger brother, helped Grandpa start his business by sewing and mending things in the middle of the night when she had time. During WWII, she carried my uncle inside her jacket and ran for cover during air raids by the US military. She taught her five children to be positive thinkers, to be happy, peaceful people. She helped Grandpa found his company, then managed the books and saw the business grow into one with thousands of employees that even held annual sports days at one point. Then she saw her grandchildren become professors, investment bankers, businessmen, government employees, news anchors. Grandma was 92 when she passed away, so for 88 years she devoted herself to the Weng family. My aunt calls her a "legendary figure in the Weng family history."

Reconnecting with family

We did interviews today for Grandma's video. But before that, we had lunch at The Diner's on Ruian St. Over eggs benedicts, pancakes, hamburgers, crab cake sandwiches (for me), coffee and tea, we poured over picture albums that had photos of Grandma when she was young and of us when we were babies. That was fun and the most relaxed I have been in days.

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Remembering Grandma Weng

Dear Grandmother on Dad's side passed away 3 Jan. Growing up on the other side of the Pacific Ocean, I didn't get to spend much time with her as a child. But I remember that she loved all of her grandchildren very much. My impression of her is that she was always surrounded by beautiful things. She was always properly dressed. She never raised her voice in front of us. She didn't spoil us rotten either. I have been digging in my brain for memories with her, but I can't seem to come up with very much. Oh where did they go??? It is as frustrating to not be able to remember as it is painful to not be able to hug her anymore.

Thank god there are pictures to look at and family members' stories to listen to. I am lucky to be getting to know my grandmother more and more this way. Perhaps should all tell stories of our parents, family and friend more often. I think we would all appreciate each other more this way too.

I have been asked to make a short movie for the funeral, but I hope it will also be something that we can watch again in the future when we forget how it feels to be with her and to be loved by her. Hopefully it will be a video for our children and grandchildren who are not yet born to get to know their ancestor and to let her spirit and love live on in their hearts.