I have a story to share about Chor jee Chow. My Poh Poh which means Grandmother on my mother’s side in Chinese. About when she was young and full of so much life! This story came fondly to my mind as I was sitting with Munch while he was causing his usual mischief. I received a text the other day from my mom that my Poh Poh (3,000 miles away) had to be admitted into the emergency room. It doesn’t matter what the doctors say, because life on this earth is a short thing. Every second we are all moving closer and closer to the point where our bodies are too fragile to carry on, and our spirits and souls are set free. My Poh Poh you see, has the kindest and most loving spirit and soul devoted to the Lord as any human could ever have. She has ALWAYS been known for her pure kindness and devotion to all things good, and so, though her earthly body may fail her, her spirit remains calm with peace and love.
That got me reminiscing.
I remember being about 4 years old (a few years older than Munch is now) and sitting in her lush and giant garden. We are both squatting in front of a large pile of dirt. I in my red polka dot jumper and stripped leggings and her in a pair of pink gardening pants, a simple pocketed apron and a visor atop her head and of course, floral patterned gloves.
She was scooping and measuring the dirt out carefully into terracotta pots. After arranging flowers into them she lovingly patted the bases as she put them aside. Then she reached up and and with a sigh and an exasperated “Ayeee” plucked a ripe and sweet smelling plum from the tree. Taking a large and squelching bite out of it (including the pit), she started sucking the juices of her fingers and finally spitting out the pit and handed me the rest of the fruit to dvourer. The sun shone brightly on us so we retired to the shade under a Japanese maple tree-that was my favorite climbing spot. I perched atop a branch, and she sat stooped on the brick wall in front of it, looking out into the field covered with flowers, fruit trees, a white gazebo and a small bridge that was a walkway over a pond stocked with gold fish the size of squirrels. She would always take a deep breath in, and stretch her arms up enjoying the sun and the labor of her garden. It was her sanctuary, her way to be closest to God’s good earth. As I “Masak Masaked” (played) around the garden, arranging and playing with the clay gnomes and other garden figurines, she would sing, and hum my favorite songs.
“Me and My teddy bear, Have no worries have no cares! Me and my teddy bear just play and play all day.”
Sometimes though, she would just listen and work in the stillness and silence of the hills, with the wind brushing about. Once in a while, if I was being naughty, she would (not taking her eyes off her plants) exclaim “Ayeeee Ya! Come on down from there” and I would hop down and go skipping about like a little wild fairy in her garden. I would twirl around the old gazebo and collect acorns or run and fetch her a watering can if needed. Whatever she wanted to do, I would follow. I was her devoted servant. Her stillness calmed me. It occupied my mind and kept me busy. Her devotion to me, The eldest daughter of her youngest child was exactly how she treated all 13 of her grandchildren. She was hands on loving., generous, and kind. She never needed to be outwardly strict, because we all obeyed her anyway. We thanked her for the treats she provided especially her freshly dried fruit and fruit leather strips she made in her sun room. We cherished and respected her as she was our Poh Poh, and the fairest queen of her castle and as we ran about she would chuckle and watch us explore every inch of it. Her knitting baskets, her sewing room, the ball room and the endless stairs and cupboards were our very own play gym.
I could go on for days about being a young child with my Kong Kong (Grandfather) and Poh Poh. I spent many nights there, and have very fond memories of awaking in the wee hours for a cup of milk, kicking them out of their own bed because of my sleeping habits or simply sitting in the kitchen eating meat off of chicken bones. But I do have to recall one more very special moment.
Although it has been documented already in a few diary entries by my Kow Foo (my Uncle) I wanted to write it out from my perspective.
My Poh Poh loved to write. She wrote short stories, poems, memories and even published a book called “A River Called Beautiful”. It was published in 1997 (I was 7 then), but I can recall her pouring her heart open to the pages. Writing everything in her mind on an old fashion type writer-
Tap tap tapping away. click click click ZING
I would sit on the four posted bed, watching her type away. Page after page littered the desk and the floors and the vanity in her “office”,which happened to be connected to the master bathroom.) then I sprang! I would walk behind her slyly as she typed- lost in her own world and head, steal the bottle of baby powder off the vanity and squeeze it until it puffed out white powder. The fresh smell would fill the air, and swirl with the dust in the room, catching the lights from the windows and creating a golden haze all about which seemed to form about her. I remember thinking then (I was probably 6 at this time) that she looked like an angel on earth. Wearing a thin white cotton button up shirt and slacks, black hair framing her face, bending over her work so intently, she didn’t notice me covered from head to toe in white powder!
I wanted to be JUST like her in that moment. To this day, 20 years later, I sit at my electronic computer, surrounded by the clutter and chaos of my toddler’s most recent tornado with dishes and laundry piled up the ceiling, and all I can think is, that in someways, I AM just like her, just a little bit more messy (though my mom recalls that Poh Poh was equally as messy as I am) . I pray one day, that I will channel her peace, love and happiness in every aspect of my life for everyone to see, because if someone can think of me even the slightest way that I think of my Poh Poh, well that would be the largest compliment that I could ever receive. She is who I want to be when I grow up– always beautiful, always honest, and always sincerely devoted.
She is a truly a God sent angel to my life.
❤ Yien Hwa
(What she use to call me when I was little-My Chinese Name meaning Virtuous Flower.)