August 23, 2008
About a year ago Ina and I went down to San Francisco, but before that we stopped in Hayward to visit my grandparents, who were being looked after by my aunt. At the time my parents thought it'd be a great chance for us to see them because they were likely too old to travel up to Toronto to attend our wedding the following May.
My Popo and I have had some epic battles back in the day. She would come up to Toronto to visit during the summers from Taiwan and look after me during my summer holidays, and stay until it got cold. We had a lot of fights because Popo was super stubborn and refused to ever let me win at anything, and I hated that because I hate losing. She never let me win, and on top of that often would gloat after beating me, relishing in my defeats. I remember vividly once we were playing Chinese Chess, and once again she creamed me and so I picked up a playing piece and threw it at her in frustration. She threw one back at me and the next thing I knew were we throwing them at eachother. Come to think of it, those things were pretty heavy, I'm surprised we didn't break anything. She got me on the shoulder and I started to cry. She just laughed.
Popo was also way too smart for her own good. I had heard that various pastors and ministers had come to try to share the gospel with her and she refused to believe. She was too clever, Christianity was too "easy" for her, it was silly to her. Even when my mom shared her personal testimony and invited her to church to hear it, she came but she was too stubborn to acknowledge whether or not she was touched by my mom's story.
My Popo never really worked, she painted beautiful paintings using the Chinese watercolor method. I remember back in our old house in Unionville, my dad picked up an old drafting table and set it up in the dinning room, and Popo set up her painting scrolls and paints and brushes and would sit there and practice. She taught me to how to paint too, how to hold the brush (mao bi) properly and how to write. She had these special practice papers which you could paint on over and over with water and the water would just evaporate quickly. She taught me how to paint the flowers, leaves and branches. Our house was filled with many of her painting scrolls. I used to spend about 30 minutes after getting home from school, and practice my writing skills and painting skills while I ate those pineapple filled biscuits (fong li su).
When I was little I loved to eat (and still do) these little banana cakes, (shiang giao gao), and my Popo figured out how to make it. I mean this was before the internet when you could just look it up and find a recipe. She made it by tasting it and feeling its texture. She'd never made it before and she just figured it out, somehow.
When I was 11, my mom, my brother and I went to Taiwan and stayed there for 6 weeks. This was during the school year so I missed all that time from school, though I took lots of homework and textbooks to keep up. I remember going shopping with my grandma, just the two of us. We'd go into the grocery store and they had this conveyor belt just for your shopping cart to take it upstairs because there was no other way to take it up there. I guess it was to save space. Then when you bought stuff you stick it back on there and it brings it back down for you. She used to buy me all kinds of yummy goodies and little toys with wound up rubber bands as engines. At the apartment she always made me this pork that I loved.. I still remember it. It had just enough meat and fat on it.. I think we ate it almost every other day. It was so good.
I have so many fond memories of Popo.
Anyway, while we were visiting in Hayward, my aunt told me that Popo hadn't really spoken in some time. She did most of her communication by pointing to things. But while I was there I got to talking to her and she spoke to me. It was a touching moment for me, one that I will remember for the rest of my life. I introduced her to my future wife, and we talked a bit about the old times, memories and silly things I used to do to make her laugh. I found out that she had accepted Christ, which was really great news.
Popo passed away on August 21, 2008. She will be missed.