Monday, October 8, 2012

Taiwan Travelogue: Day 3 - Grateful

What happens to your possessions after you die? The ancient Egyptian Pharaohs packed all their stuff away with them in their pyramids but most of us don’t have that luxury.

As we started going through my grandmother’s positions, it felt weird and almost sacrilegious. But then it started to make sense. What was my family going to do with all of this stuff? What would my grandmother prefer, for the family to take things of her that they wanted or for this stuff to be given away to charity or thrown away?

So all of the women in my family went to my grandmother’s bedroom and looked through her clothes trying things on and claiming clothes to take home. My cousin and I started looking through the curio cabinet in the living room.

There was a lot of really interesting things in that cabinet. We found a metal toy car from the early 1910s, honorary gifts for my grandfathers years of service in various organizations and souvenirs from all over the world. I found a small stone carved into two dogs playing with each other that reminded me of Buffy that I took for my own.

I went in and checked on how Diana and the rest of the women in my family were doing. Diana had found a couple sweaters and a old fashioned but very nice wool suit jacket. As I was looking through this stuff my aunt started pulling out my grandmother’s numerous handbags and I instantly recognized a small brown one as my grandmothers.

I never really thought about her handbags or even consciously noticed them but seeing that bag immediately brought and image into my minds eyes of my grandmother holding that bag.

My mom took this bag into the main living room and started going through the bag. She explained to my wife and I that my grandmother always made sure to have certain things in her handbag. There was a small container of tiger balm, a small packet of tissue, three of four plastic bags just in case there was extra food from a restaurant she wanted to keep, and emergency money hidden away in some corner of the purse.

My mom explained how she learned to carry most of these things in her purse all of the time from her mom. As I thought about the kleenix packet, lip balm, and emergency money hidden away in my work bag, I realized that I was as much my mother’s son as my mom was her mother’s daughter.

That evening we went to my grandmother’s favorite sushi restaurant. It was a authentic sushi bar that only had about twenty seats. As soon as we walked in one of the sushi chefs asked my uncle where my grandmother was and he pointed up and explained that she had passed away.

At the end of the meal we had miso soup. This soup was authentically made with random pieces of left over seafood creating and fresh and subtle mix of flavors. My mom explained to me that this was my grandmother’s favorite dish. As I inhaled the aroma of the soup and tasted the smooth broth, it felt like she was sharing her world with me.

For that experience and that day, I am truly grateful.

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