My parent’s house, the one I grew up in, is filled with images of family. I don’t usually spend a lot of time thinking about my family history, but here I’m steeped in it. Today my mom pointed out a picture of my great aunt, Janet, with my dad as a boy. She made it possible for him to build a life here in the US. A picture of her friend, Eunice, who she asked to sponsor my dad has a prominent place on the wall. As kids, we always called her Amah, grandma.
On this trip, my mother gave me a pendant that my grandmother left for me along with the note that she wrote. Add it to the list of reasons I regret not knowing how to speak, read or write much Chinese. Fortunately, my mother translated it for me so I know that in the note she describes how my grandpa gave this to her when she went to the South Sea to meet him in 1930, and says that she wanted to pass it along to me. The note itself is brittle and already torn from being unfolded in many places. I wish I’d known her better.
There is a faded picture cube on the desk downstairs with a picture of me at 1-2 years old astride my favorite stuffed yellow bunny. I remember that bunny, and it makes me think of the stories about my imaginary friend, Cackle Sue. I have no idea if she cackled, or where that name came from, but my mom tells me she spilled milk and got me into trouble a lot.
One of my brother’s favorite stuffed animals was sitting on my bed below the headboard that I always imagined was a guardian owl. I still do. I can’t help it. This old picture of me as a kid is sitting on the bedside table.
At some point, when I was a few yeas older, I lost one of those pigtails to a friend who was playing barber. I had short hair for a long time after that.
There is still a painting hanging from the closet door that my super talented next door neighbor friend made for me at some point when we were growing up together. I wish she’d thought to sign and date it. Her parents still live next door. My parent’s wedding photos. Cousins, aunts and uncles smile out from every surface. Pictures of me and my siblings playing on the swingset, blowing out birthday candles and posing for portraits in our high school letter jackets.
It’s good to be home.