Posts Tagged ‘family’

It’s been a while since I’ve written in this blog. Sorry followers. Life throws curve balls at you when you don’t expect them.

I was never close to my dad, so I was a little surprised how it affected me when he passed away this weekend, despite the fact that we knew he was dying over the last 2 months.

He was not a hands-on or interested father, as were most fathers in his generation and of his culture. He was a traditional Asian dad – he brought home the bacon and he expected to be served and respected by his wife and kids.

I remember as a young child our home was a quiet tiny box when dad came home in the evening. With 7 young children, that was not an easy feat. Only his transistor radio with the horse racing program or the news made much sound in the evening. After our evening meal together, we would do our school work quietly, and mom was at the ready to shush us up along with our grandparents that lived with us. There were 11 people living in a 700 sq. ft. apartment, keeping the noise down was not easy, and there was no doubt who was in control.

All that changed after our immigration to Canada … my mother became independent, learned to drive, got a job and learned enough English to get by; many of the children grew up as “bananas” (white on the inside yellow on the outside), westernized but with some inherited knowledge of some Chinese traditions. That couldn’t have been easy for my dad, who liked control, called the shots, knew it all and enjoyed being “the boss”.

As first generation Canadians, I matured with increasing contradicting feelings towards my own heritage and culture. I don’t know what to pass onto our own children or not, as I can’t explain why we did some of the traditional things and the meanings behind them. All I know is that I inherited the virtues and learned the value and importance of family and duties.

So, regardless what my relationship was with my father, I dug deep and found these AWESOME things to say about my dad as he journeyed forth into another realm of existence. I appreciated:

  • that he was a survivor in the face of adversities, especially during and after WWII;
  • that he was a dutiful and loyal son and brother to his family;
  • his business acumen back in the day when things were done differently; he ran several successful businesses, employed and took care of many of his relatives and friends who needed work;
  • his generosity and largesse towards his friends and colleagues;
  • his foresight to move to Canada to give his family a better life and future;
  • his eventual gratitude for my siblings who bent over backwards to meet his needs and endured his many outbursts and tantrums.

He was my father after all. Rest in peace, dad.



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Another Thanksgiving weekend has come and gone. Despite all the trials and tribulations with our youngest in recent months, I feel blessed and grateful to have my family around. All the kids were home for Thanksgiving dinner. The kids played games with my husband while I cooked, there were wonderful laughter and conversations, and of course, lots of turkey and great food. Our chef to be daughter made delicious pecan pies for dessert.

My own family (of origin) is growing leaps and bounds with 2 new babies added to the family this year. All counted, there are now 29 of us just on my side of the family, not including boyfriends and girlfriends. Even my 90 year old dad is mellowing … he noticed all the hard work people have put into the big family Thanksgiving and expressed appreciation. Well, better late than never, I suppose. I only wish he had done that when my mom was still alive.

In a way, I feel sad that most families today are getting smaller and smaller. I love the big group gatherings, sharing the warmth and closeness of being in a big family. I love hearing the kids yakking away, telling their stories and sharing their life experiences.

Regardless, it was an AWESOME Thanksgiving weekend. I’m giving thanks and I’m at the receiving end as well. There is nothing better than having my family close by and everyone feeling appreciated. It’s AWESOME to be giving and receiving thanks.

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All my life, people tell me I look like my mom. More than once or twice, I was told I looked exactly like her. Now as an adult, I’d have to admit I do look like her. My face, my body shape, some of my expressions, and a few other mannerism do look like her.

When I was younger, I didn’t like it when people commented how much I looked like my mother. I wonder how many youths like to be told they look like their parent. In my youth, I used to think … I wanted to look cool and fashionable, not like my mother; I wanted to have my own identity, not like my mother; I wanted to know more about the world, not like my mother; I wanted to be learned, scholarly and educated, not like my mother; I wanted to have a tall and slim figure, not like my mother; I wanted to be softer and well spoken, not like my mother; I wanted to travel the world, not like my mother …. You get the picture.

The reality is that I do look like my mother. I have her stocky and short stature, her unshapely and peasant legs and feet, her sense of thriftiness and much more. I stopped resenting our look alikes many years ago (I’m not sure when this happened, but I’m guessing around the time when we started our own family) and I started appreciating some of her common sense and implicit teaching, despite her lack of formal education.

Like my mom, I value the importance of my family, friends and connections; I appreciate loyalty and commitment; I have and am not afraid of sharing my voice and opinion; I love trying new things and adventures; I am not a wasteful person; I enjoy socializing with people; I appreciate what I have no matter how little; I am versatile and can roll with the punches; I am a survivor in tough and difficult times; I have so many more common characteristics as my mom.

On this Mother’s Day, I remember my mother and all her AWESOMENESS that I hope I have, that I hope our children will one day come to appreciate and may be even inherit. Thanks mom, you gave me more than your looks, and I don’t mind looking like you at all; I also hope that, wherever you are in heaven, you know your children appreciate you.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the AWESOME moms!

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Last night, I went to see a movie with my husband … we haven’t done that for ages; my husband is too cheap to spring for cinema tickets, he usually would rather wait until the movie comes out as DVDs, and buy them as a previewed sales item (and may be not even that).

We saw the movie “Parental Guidance” along with 4 other people in the theatre, on a Wednesday night. I know my laughs were too loud echoing off the walls, with so few people. I couldn’t pretend that it was someone else’s weird laughs, if more people were there.

I enjoyed the movie … first of all, it was a comedy with Billy Crystal; secondly, it was about parenting of our generation and how uptight and overdone we are sometimes even with good intentions; thirdly, it’s about family relationships and how easy it is to misunderstand each other and unintentionally hurt each other, but we really love each other at the end, and finally, lets face it – our kids can be manipulative, lovable and vulnerable at the same time.

There were many scenes and moments in the movie that I can relate to, some were a little far-fetched. Despite blowing 20 bucks for a bag of popcorn, a large pop and a bag of candy – it’s really highway robbery, and it’s so bad for you, BUT it’s part of the movie experience – it was a good night out with my hubby, a date if you will. It was AWESOME to enjoy a movie in a theatre together again.

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As our children grow up, they are spending less and less time with us. Despite the fact that  we will have to postpone our traditional celebration on Christmas Eve, I still feel blessed to have them home for Christmas on Christmas Day.

Recently, I over heard one of our kids describing our family traditions of celebrating Christmas to one of their friends. Even though it was described as if it were a boring and mundane process before they get to open their presents, I am heartened to hear that the years of doing the same things at Christmas paid off, and can now be considered family traditions.

Imagine this bit of conversation, expressed with our kid’s exaggerated tone of boredom and having to put up with this year after year at Christmas:

“After our turkey dinner .. and oh oh oh (arms flailing to emphasize this point), the stuffing is the best part (mom’s feeling pleased) … then we’d have to sit through my dad reading a piece from the bible. Then we’d have to sing Christmas carols FOREVER (with much exacerbation) and EVERYONE has to choose a song … it takes like f.o.r.e.v.e.r. Then we get to open our presents. Of course, we don’t get Santa’s presents until the morning along with our stocking stuffers …”

Christmas is about family traditions, being together and enjoying each other’s company, conversations and catching up. I love Christmas for these things more than anything else. Family traditions are important to me, and I hope they get to be carried over generations to come. Family traditions at Christmas – AWESOME!

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We tend to complain and bitch about our health care system and feel helpless not being to do anything about it. Well, I am going to do something, but this something has to do with praising our health care system … here is the story.

My father-in-law, a very healthy 87 year old with no previous symptoms, suddenly suffered a heart attack last Friday. He collapsed in the front yard of a house, next door to the friend that he was going to visit to borrow a wheel barrow. He was unconscious and his heart stopped for a while. For whatever reason, his friend looked out the window and saw him lying on the grass. 911 was called, ambulance came (20 min. later as it had to come from the next town), he was transported to the hospital in Vernon. He had a fantastic doctor from the Emergency Dept., who kept us informed on a daily basis with updates.

All the stars were aligned for him as this could have turned out much worse. I focus on all the positive things that went right:

  • He collapsed where his friend saw him.
  • His friend looked out the window for no particular reason.
  • His heart started pumping again on its own.
  • He only scraped his forehead, his face and his knee. He didn’t break anything or suffered other major injuries from his collapse.
  • He received great care from an exceptional doctor, who has been very communicative, personable and offered much insights for the family. He phoned us every morning so far to keep us up to date, when he didn’t see us face-to-face.
  • My husband’s siblings really pulled together and drove to be with my parents-in-law, everyone did his / her best to help and stay in the loop, juggling with their own jobs, families and distance. All the spouses are supportive during this difficult time.
  • Thank goodness for emails to reach a large group of people quickly with news.
  • It looks like my father-in-law will be able to have the surgery to repair the blocked valve within days. (fingers crossed)

Even though none of us wants this to happen, the incident brought out the bright side of things … and the AWESOME people in our lives.

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It has been 20 years since my in-laws moved out of their hay farm and into town, and may be 7 or 8 years since we had an Easter egg hunt in the forest. Hard to believe it has been that long. Ever since the kids were born, we looked forward to Easter with my in-laws. The tradition had been that on Easter Saturday, the family would gather to make Easter eggs. This was no dye job, or simple colouring of eggs. This was their family tradition, who knows how many generations had maintained this?

My mother in-law would have started collecting onion peel for some time. Yes, regular onion peels – the brown kind. She would have at least one or two trays full of it, along with some discoloured and worn looking rags and strings that had seen better days, and that she had saved over the years, previously used for making Easter eggs. For the uninitiated, like I was the first time I saw them, I would have thrown them out long ago. The family would go for a walk in the forest to find and gather a collection of interestingly shaped blades of grass, wild flowers, leaves and assorted plant bits. These would be brought back to the kitchen as decorations for the Easter eggs.

To make the Easter eggs, dozens of raw eggs would be washed and soaked in water. One would crush and break up the onion peel into tiny little bits to make a nest on a piece of the rags, the smaller the bits, the more interesting the results. A wet egg would then be placed in the nest of onion peel bits, and if desired, different leaves, flowers or grass would be placed on the wet egg as decorations. Occasionally, left over pieces of coloured crepe paper might be used to make patterns on the wet egg, like a cross. One would then carefully wrap the egg inside the onion peel nest, and tie the rag tightly with the strings without breaking the egg. Each person had to make at least 2 eggs. The older kids or adults would help the little ones. We would tie each person’s eggs with some kind of identification, so that we could find our own eggs later.

The wrapped eggs would be placed in boiling water mixed with vinegar; the vinegar was intended to set the colours. After boiling the eggs for about 20-25 minutes, they were set out to cool. The kids never wanted to wait for them to cool, and were always eager to unwrap them to see the results. The onion peel would give the eggs unique patterns and colouring of various shades of red, brown and dark red or brown – this would depend how tightly one wrapped the egg to press the onion peel against the egg. The imprint of the leaves or flowers, if the egg was wrapped tight enough, would show up as whitish, and the blue or purple flowers always had the nicest effects, against a sea of red and brown. The dye from the crepe paper, if used, would sometimes transfer onto the egg, but not always. Each person would find their own eggs, and the eggs were then rubbed with pieces of bacon fat to make them shiny. This was always the most exciting part – to see whose eggs had the best patterns, the most brilliant of colours and the most interesting flower or leaf imprints.

My father in-law would invite the kids to “kicks” their eggs with his, to see whose eggs were stronger, tougher and better to eat. The pair would first use the blunt ends of each egg, the younger child would tap his egg against my father in-law’s egg to see whose egg would crack. Then the sharp ends of the eggs were used, and my father in-law would tap his egg against the other’s. Whoever won could tap the egg on the “loser’s” head to crack the egg further. Usually the eggs with more washed out colours were used for “kicks”. After that, they could both enjoy their hard boiled Easter egg. All the uneaten eggs would be collected for the Easter egg hunt the next day.

On Easter Sunday morning, my mother in-law would hide some Easter treats around the house or in the garden outside, and the kids would be invited to find what the Easter bunny had left behind, if he had visited the house – of course, he inevitably always did. After a hot ham or turkey full meal lunch, in the afternoon, the adults would discreetly bring out all the candies and treats to be wrapped and inventoried in the bedroom, away from the children’s prying eyes. Usually the treats would include oranges, candy bars, loose candies, chocolate eggs and of course, our home made Easter eggs. Later when the kids were a little older, we made the treats healthier by including fruit juice boxes, granola bars instead of chocolate bars, sticker tattoos, and other less sweet treats. After the inventory, the Easter bunny (my father in-law) would head out to the forest up the hill behind the farm to hide everything. He would mark off an area so the kids later would know where the boundaries were (the Easter bunny was always smart enough to stay within a specific area, so the kids wouldn’t go searching all over the forest),,  hide the treats in trees, inside a tree stump or under branches, rocks, etc. There were many good hiding places in the forest. Once ready, the family would take the kids, baskets in tow, to do the Easter egg hunt. This was always so much fun to watch the kids’  excitement and success in finding the treats, especially the difficult spots – the little ones never looked up where the Easter bunny had hidden things up in the trees.

We continued to do our family Easter egg hunts each year until a few years before the farm was sold. I really missed those times. I hope this family tradition would be brought back when our kids are older and have their own families. It was an AWESOME memory and family tradition.

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