A continuing series by former ER writer Shannon Goss on life as a modern Asian American hapa woman.
September 6th marked the two-year anniversary of my grandmother’s passing at the age of 85. When thinking about how much she meant to me, I can still be brought to tears. I realize the significance of my crying is lessened by the fact that it doesn’t take much to bring tears to my eyes (read: the trailer for The Blind Side), but still, you get the point. My grandma left an indelible mark on everyone in my family, as she was an extraordinary woman in every sense of the word.
In August, my sister gave birth to her first child. A girl. For their daughter’s middle name, my sister and her husband decided on my grandmother’s Japanese name. No one was more pleased to hear this than my grandpa. I had the privilege of calling him with the news. Hearing aid in, he was able to understand me perfectly. For a man who has spent the better part of two years grieving the loss of his wife, I have never heard so much joy in his voice. I could practically hear him smile.
And while my niece will never get to meet the woman she is named after, she will get to know her through the stories that we will, undoubtedly, pass on.
My niece will know that her great-grandmother was the woman who taught her mom and auntie how to ride a bike. She will know that she was the woman who, when laughing really hard, would slap the person next to her. This is something my mom, sister and I all do and, with any luck, so will my niece. She will also know that her great-grandma was a woman so fit that, even in her 80’s, she could pull off wearing short-shorts. And my niece will also know that her great-grandma was the woman who, in the phone call she had with my parents the week before she died unexpectedly, told them to “be kind and take it easy.”
So as we welcome this wee baby into our family, there’s something wonderful about knowing that through her a part of my grandma lives on. I say “part,” but to hear my grandpa say it, it’s much more than that. As I was getting off the phone with him the other day, he told me to tell my sister and brother-in-law to take care of their little girl. He then added, “They’re taking care of grandma, you know.” So, in other words, no pressure.
– Shannon Goss