I remember from the fuzzy edges of my distant memory how I always came home to my Grandmother during kindergarten, back when she lived with us in order to care for me. We would spend entire afternoons looking out the window counting the taxis occasionally passed by. On weekends she’d take me to dimsum or Hardees at the mall in ChiFu. We’d play in the arcade together. Sometimes we’d walk through the wet market and wander in the garden. She’d tell me stories about her youth in Shanghai, the communist takeover, and her journey to Hong Kong—this city which was really a foreign place to her. She told me about her life in this new city, her new friends, my grandfather whom I’ve never met, bringing up my father, seeing him leave for the States. She spoke to me in eclectic mix of Shanghainese and Cantonese that few others would probably understand. And I would always listen attentively. During those years in Pokfulam, she was my constant companion. We even had our own language.
When I was in 3rd grade, my family moved away from Pokfulam so that I could be closer to my primary school. Meanwhile, grandma was immersing herself in the life of the Chi Fu community. I’d visit her to hear her stories. She’d visit us and bring new clothes for me to wear, and snacks from St. Anne’s for me to eat. I always looked forward to our visitations, but at same time I began to grow too impatient to just sit around to hear stories. I was discovering a whole new world beyond our friendship and I wanted my own stories to tell.
Eventually, I left for the US to go to school, only returning to see my grandma two or three times a year. And during that time, my grandma’s frame began to shrink. She stopped dying her hair black and it turned a frosty grey. She slipped, fell, and was hospitalized one summer, when I was home from abroad, which began a long process of declining morale. She moved in with us for the past 6 years, and she grew quiet and resigned. When I saw her in June, she was tired and sleeping more than she ever had since I’ve known her. I could not have guessed that June would turn out to be my last time seeing her. I had not yet told her all the stories of my growing up, my adventures, my successes, and my failures while I was gone. She would have loved to hear and I wish I still had the chance.
If there were one thing I’d like my grandmother to be remembered for, it would be her immense love. Though it was not always easy to understand her language, her traditional thinking, and her stubborn personality, she was really full of love. I know this because I’ve experienced it first hand again and again and again. She always wanted the best for her son and her grandchildren. Even as she aged, she always wanted to make we were well fed and happy—even though I was not always there to make she that she was the same. She believed in us and she believed that we would do something good in this world. She was always proud of our accomplishments, however insignificant it may be. I will miss her sorely, but I know that her love has not and will not dim. When there is a chilly evening, and I remember to bring a coat, it will be her loving voice that reminded me. And if I manage to do some good in this world, I will think of the proud smile that she would have carried.