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Location: Northern California

Read all about the adventures of the Tsao Family during the summer of 2012

Friday, June 09, 2006


I am my grandmother's granddaughter

Me and ma: 1971
Originally uploaded by marytsao.
Today I had one of those ah ha! moments. It occurred midway during a bite of cold scrambled eggs with cheese eaten standing up at the sink.

I have become my grandmother.

For one thing, I'm constantly picking up after people. My grandma was always straightening up things. I will never forget the time she cleaned my aunt's "dirty" candle holder. My aunt had taken an old Chianti bottle and used it as a candle holder, carefully burning candles of various colors and turning the bottle to ensure the drips were evenly distributed. One day my grandma cleaned all the wax off the bottle. She'll never do that again.

For another thing, I eat the food off my kids's plates. This is a bad habit, but I just can't let the good food I made go to waste so I do what my grandma used to do: I shove the last remaining good bites in my mouth before I rinse and wash the dish. When you eat food really fast and over the sink it doesn't count, right?

But I'm not really my grandmother; she was much more selfless than I will ever be. My grandma was the constant caregiver. When I went back to Chicago after she passed away, I had a great conversation with an old family friend about my grandma. The friend told me about the first time she ever met my grandma. I was there, but I don't remember this exact incident although I can imagine it with no problem. The family friend visited for dinner and was amazed at how my grandma waited on everybody hand and foot -- making food (we had spaghetti and peas, a dish we had a lot), scurrying around, never sitting, then cleaning off the table when the rest of us simply got up after eating and left our plates where she had placed them earlier. I'm sure she ate her dinner standing up at the sink before washing the dishes while we watched TV in the other room. This was what dinner was like with my grandma. That was what life was like with my grandma. Her giving was so constant; the taking was so easy. It required a stranger to alert me to the fact that it wasn't necessarily the way other people lived, the way other people were treated and treated each other.

I will never be my grandmother, but I will always be my grandmother's granddaughter.

I still miss you, gramie. But you're here with me every day; you know you are.

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