For as long as I could remember Papa always had the habit of writing random words on scrap paper when he was watching TV. I figured he was practicing calligraphy since that was his hobby. I never noticed the words being lined up so closely together and having so many repeated words though. Some people believe handwriting can reflect mental states. What does this mean?
It was natural as a child to know that your grandparents were old and had aches and pains like other old people. But it was disconcerting when I left my home country for 8 years and returned home only to attend my paternal grandfather’s funeral. And it was surreal when I read on the bedroom wall the schedule written for the caretaker:
9:30 am turn to right
9:45 am turn to left
10:00 am turn to right, check [fecal bag]
10:15 am turn to left
He was old when I left, but he was healthy then. I think I was afraid to go home when he was terminally ill. Or maybe I was too immature to believe he was that sick.
Maybe I’m immature still. I’m scared when I watch my father shut down like his father. I’m scared when I remember that two of his sisters have already passed away. I forget sometimes that he’s diabetic now. I still expect him to squash house bugs for me when my husband is not around.
For my daughter M though, he’s just A-Gong (Grandpa) – just like the image of my grandfather imprinted on my mind.
Today my 17-month-old made a “two” sign for the first time. She couldn’t separate the fingers to make a “V” yet, but she may as well have carved a victory symbol on my heart. Sometimes I thought of how many stories behind the lit windows that you see when you take a walk after dinner. Behind ours it was wonderful and cozy for me today, having been able to take time off work this week.
Our kitchen window was sweating from the pot steam. But I could still see from the inside the reflections as I chopped the onions, napa, tomatoes, mushrooms and so on, while my mother manned the stove. The little one was successfully distracted to the family room by Grandpa after trying to bribe for some cookies by sitting on the potty.
The sizzling meatballs on the stovetop sent out an absolutely heavenly aroma that I spell “H-O-M-E”. And I should try not to think about work nights this week.
I’m obsessed with counting the number of hours I’ve had to leave my daughter under others’ care. 8 hours today. 0 yesterday. 10 the day before. When did women lose their right to care for their own children?
What a cry she had! Brassy and assertive, she carved out a little piece of the stratosphere for her own the moment she arrived in this world. And And she cried with the same force still 17 months later. The tears streamed down her face just like the miserable rain outside. And the quack of the passing Canadian geese outside of her window couldn’t compete with her. I rocked and I rocked. The little face begged for more hugs, more patience, more time and more love. And I held on. The sinful human heart said, “Sleep, sleep, oh please sleep and give me a moment of peace.” But the tiny infant shoe deserted in the corner reminded me that all too soon this shall pass, too.
I don’t remember when I stopped feeling with bursting excitement in the morning when the sun caressed my nose, or searching for the topmost cloud in the sky on the way home. But children are here to remind us of the inordinary world we live in. When my daughter clapped her hands at the passing of the migrating birds in the crispy autumn air, I once again saw the wonders that I had long forgotten.