by syaffolee

If I Could Show Her These Photographs

Last week, my grandmother passed away–a little over a month after her ninety-fifth birthday.

I had planned on going up to Richmond, BC to see her during this year’s winter break before my sister and I headed off to tromp around the Canadian metropolitan hinterland, but to say the least, my visit across the border came much sooner than expected.

My maternal grandmother was a stubborn and tough lady. Why just this summer, when she attended my cousin’s wedding in Ohio, she humored us with her vocal dislike of all the American food at the reception. She was also quite healthy–so it was a shock, for everyone, when she died. If only I had known that the last time I would say good-bye to her was at a dinky Dayton airport…

I met up with my parents at Sea-Tac before driving up to Richmond.* My sister came down from Vancouver. Two of my uncles (“Big Uncle” and “Sixth Uncle”) came over from Taiwan. For the few days that we were there, we stayed over at my other uncle’s house (“Fourth Uncle”). The funeral and my grandmother’s final resting place were western in the basics but strong with Chinese sensibility. I hope she would have approved.

Knowing that I am an inveterate scribbler and that I was doing Nanowrimo this month, after the funeral service, my father suggested–not for the first time–that I write some sort of epic saga about my grandmother’s generation. My grandmother had seen a lot of world changing stuff in her time and it would be fitting to dedicate something like this to her, but while I think this is a cool idea (if I can put my own spin on in), I am afraid I can never do such a story justice.

While we were in Richmond, we went to the Continental Seafood Restaurant for dim sum. There are many, many dim sum places in this area, but this was particularly special because this was the place my mother and Fourth Uncle took my grandmother to eat about a week before she passed away. (Dim sum pictures on my Flickr account are located here.)


That evening, we also had a Vietnamese style dinner which my father, my sister, and I prepared while my mother and uncles were out shopping. This might seem a little strange at first glance, but I think it was very appropriate. My parents and my uncles grew up in Vietnam and I think, in a way, the dinner was a nostalgic reminder of their childhood–when my grandmother struggled as a single mother after her husband, my grandfather, also passed away very suddenly. (Pictures of where we shopped for dinner are here. Ingredients for a Vietnamese style dinner are here.)


And, just for kicks, here are some photographs of my cousins’ cat Muffin, a.k.a. Mao. He’s up to his usual antics, completely unaware that anything has happened.


*Tip for those of you planning a real vacation: this is cheaper than flying directly to Vancouver.