Reflections on a Life Well Lived


It’s hard to put into words what it feels like to sit at the bedside of someone you love who will soon be passing into eternity to be with Jesus. I finally have a moment to think. To clear my head and to let the tears flow. It’s been start and stop since I heard of Grandma’s stroke. The news came to us in bits and pieces at first. It became clearer as the days went by that Grandma had suffered a massive stroke and there was no chance of recovery. All of her 7 children gathered quickly be her bedside trying to catch the last moments. How do you describe a woman who has had a profound impact on the lives of not only her children but so many others a well?

The regrets are coming of course, as they always do. I should have called her more. My busy life with 4 kids, living in China and just trying to stay afloat most of the time myself, but I should have called more. My last call to her was in early July. My Cantonese is trapped inside the mind of a 6 year old girl, it’s never progressed much more than that. Grandma was the reason my Cantonese got anywhere in the first place.  My childhood through college years included Grandma. We always had a room in our home for Grandma. Po-po, we affectionately call her. Her presence was always a comfort. Coming home from a busy day at school, full of relational difficulties, and the pressure of loads of homework, knowing Grandma was sitting in her recliner in the living room brought peace. We didn’t exchange tons of words. We didn’t get much beyond the “how are you, how was your day, what’s for dinner…” but in the smiles, the presence, that was enough.

Moving into adulthood, getting married, having children, Grandma made it out to Seattle for 3 of my kids’ births and we brought our 5 month daughter out to see her for her 90th birthday. Each time we flew home to China or returned back to the US, she wanted to hear from us. You, okay? She would would ask. Each conversation ended the same, in her sweet voice in a language she never spoke fluently, she would add, “You take care, okay?”

She loved each one the same. No matter what choices we all made, she received her kids, grandkids, great-grandkids with love and smiles. It pleased her to no end to have her family by her side. Each birthday celebration was indeed that. A celebration of family. She never really wanted it to be about her. She was just the reason we gathered.

Most of my childhood friends knew Po-po, and they loved her cooking, too. She knew how to make turnip-cake so perfectly, I never liked eating it in a restaurant. Since she stopped making it in recent years, I’m chiding myself for having not written down all those yummy recipes she stored in her head. The jook (Chinese porridge) I make isn’t the same. My won-tons (Chinese dumplings), definitely don’t taste as good. Even my chicken soup. Po-po’s is better.

She lies peacefully on her bed next to me. She is at rest. At 102, she has had a full life. She was never bitter towards God for taking away my Grandpa (whom I never met but sounds like a man I would have loved, too). Widowed at 52, she maintained her poise and dignity and sent each of her 7 children abroad for college and post-graduate studies. She never inclined her ear towards gossip, gently reprimanding us to love, pointing us towards a posture of grace. She prayed for us daily and I will miss those prayers.

Grandma, you take care now. You are soon going home into the arms of your loving heavenly Father. You have loved well and you leave behind a legacy that I am so honored to be a part of.

25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come.
26 She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
27 She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all.”
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
31 Honor her for all that her hands have done,
and let her works bring her praise at the city gate

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