The Omniscience of Grandparents

The Omniscience of Grandparents

John and I were back in Maryland the past few days… we went on our usual quickie visit, but I have to say, we’re finally getting it down. His parents pick us up Friday night, we grab dinner in Reston, sleep over at their house. The next day we spend with them and then in the evening, I head north to visit my parents. I squeeze in a bit of friend time (my college roommie and our dormmate live in the area), John comes over Sunday night, we check on the Reston townhouse and then my parents drop us off at Dulles. Yup, the process is pretty streamlined now, so a lot less stressful.

I was also pleased to see that my parents are well… looking better than when I saw them last March. You see, a month ago, they started exercising daily again, and god, what a huge difference 30 days makes. They look ten times better and have so much more energy. Likewise, my grandparents are more active than ever– they read the newspaper and every day of the week, they have some kind of activity at the Chinese center: singing, dancing, mahjong, lectures, etc. My parents need to learn a play or two from their playbook. I stopped by and visited with my grandparents, and holy shit, you would have no idea that they are 85 and 93 y/o. Yebs is still driving (mostly short local routes, thankfully) and they get around pretty well. Regular exercise, social activities, and lifelong learning– I’m convinced those are the secrets to aging well.

I was thinking today about how grandparents have such a wisdom to them. As crazy as the world is now and as different as it is from what they experienced previously, they somehow still manage to adapt, not sweat the small stuff, and enjoy the essence of living.

They were telling me how much fun they had last year on their trip to China for the World Expo. My grandmother was saying how May is the best time to go– that’s when all the best foods are in season. Last time, they got a live free-range chicken from the food market, cooked it up, and savored every little morsel. They are planning to visit us in California next year and maybe hit Taiwan to visit my brother too. Noorie asked when was the best time to visit for good food… so funny.

I’m on the plane now writing all this, and I’m thinking too of my father’s mother A-ma. She was such a strong, smart woman. A true negotiator. I credit her with ultimately convincing my father to accept John. She had been in Frederick for a visit, and after seeing us together, she said to my father, “He treats her well, and they are happy. Just let it be.” I remember too when I was a kid, she would visit for a couple months. She taught me to say 4-5 lines in Taiwanese in case I ever got lost. To this day, I can still reiterate those lines: I’m from Pingtung; I’m visiting my family; Their address is…” And she had so many funny ways of saying things– her own version of “omg” and “what can I do”? We used to play nerf basketball in my bedroom and basketball out on our driveway. They say behind every great man is an even greater woman, and this was certainly the case with my father and his mother.

I’m going to Taiwan in mid October. My dad’s family is very nosy and rowdy and I’m a little anxious about the Johnnny encounter, but I’m optimistic it will still be a good trip. I’ll see my paternal grandfather and visit A-ma’s ashes. For all the other drama, unfortunately, I won’t have my buffer/mediator with me… Oh well, even if I have one blow-up with my brother, I’ll consider the trip a success.

As you can see, I do way too much thinking on flights. Today, the in-fight entertainment system is down, so now I’m having to find alternate ways to deal with my ADD. I suppose it’s just as well, considering that on the fight out, I watched an E! News special on Justin Bieber and afterwards, I felt totally untalented and inadequate and lame. Yeah, and then all my issues cropped up again. By the time I arrived on the other side, I was on the verge of meltdown. It’s the same shit that crops up every couple years. What am I doing with my life? Am I making a difference? Where is my hunger and drive and ambition? How am I worthy of my life’s good fortune? I need to do more, blah, blah.

I see so much strength in my family, in the war and immigrant stories of my grandparents and parents… I do feel I should carry that same level of fortitude and resilience forward. I’ve turned soft in the comforts of privilege. So once again, I need to hatch a new plan and maybe find a life coach. I swear I try to be drama free, but my brain likes to overthink. Already, I have an entire list of things to take care of, loose ends to tie up, etc. I got issues… there’s no other way to say it.

The hobbies have certainly been keeping me busy– I suppose they are my form of “lifelong learning.” They make me happy but sometimes I wonder if they are more a distraction to prevent me from overthinking things. Maybe they are dual purpose. Either way, many things are on that bucket list. For short term, at least it gives me small goals. Like with riding… except that I hit a plateau the last two lessons, and I got frustrated still being stuck in a trot. Ah well, I just have to keep plugging away. Like Malcolm Gladwell says, 10,000 hours. There’s a cattle drive about 90 minutes south in April. At first, sleeping in a tent for 3 days was a dealbreaker, but now I think I’m just going to suck it up. Driving cattle across acres of land is gonna be incredible. Seriously, unlimited riding for three days. Awesome.

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