Moment of silence

I’ve been silent here for the past few days, not exactly intentionally, but it’s how I felt. On Wednesday evening my grandpa passed away in San Jose, peacefully, in the company of his children and their spouses. We all knew his time was coming; he’d been steadily weakening, and I can’t help but feel great relief and gladness that he’s free now. But we’ll all miss him. The day after he passed, I was in the fruit market and the employees were speaking Cantonese, a language I associate with Gong-Gong. I bought my strawberries and walked home, teary. I no longer have any grandparents living. It’s the end of an era.

Gong-Gong and friends at restaurant, 1940s

Gong-Gong is second from right; his brother Edward is next to him, second from left. They are eating at a Chinese American restaurant, sometime in the 1940s.

Gong-Gong on top of a boulder, 1979 or early 80s

Gong-Gong, probably 1979

Sarah, Gong-Gong, and Lisa in 2009

My sister Sarah, Gong-Gong, and me in 2009

Gong-Gong had a good life and a cheerful nature, the latter contributing hugely to the former. Even in the last couple of years, when he didn’t always know what was going on, his kids kept him comfortable and surrounded by love. It’s as much as anyone can ask.

Erik and I are flying out to San Jose later this week, for Gong-Gong’s service and to be with the family. Given the way my family is, a feast and loud babble seems much more appropriate than the traditional moment of silence — but all the same, I think I’ll keep silence on the blog for a couple more days at least.

Rest in peace and love, Gong-Gong. I’m glad I got to know you for so long.


A note on language: “Gong-Gong” is what we call him in Shanghainese; the is pronounced like the oo in “cook.” Mandarin has the same pronunciation but a different inflection. Chinese has a host of names and titles for family members; I believe Gong-Gong is generally understood to refer to maternal grandfather even though not everyone calls their mom’s dad that.