Asian American

the urgency of today, going home, gaining perspective

Home.
Home.

When you go home, regardless how much you think you know a place, there is almost always the unexpected. I was only returning to Hawaii for 2 weeks, what could possibly happen, right?

My mom had just gotten the results of some blood work that claimed she had the onset of Type 2 Diabetes. So, part of my time there was educating her on the fact that EVERYTHING has sugar in it. She also has high cholesterol, but she’s had that for years. Talking about her diet made me think about how I take care of myself. It’s easy for me to ignore the fact that I’m healthy and younger, and not apply these things to me, but I won’t do that.

Then she accidently fell while gardening. She’s fine. She’s almost 70, after all, but seeing your mom get older with those real repercussions added another sobering dimension to my visit. Thankfully she’s got medical insurance. She’s also very independent and has many friends. But life has turned when her vulnerability seems greater than mine.

Mom and I at Uncle Willy's and Aunt Aut's, 2015
Mom and me at Uncle Willy’s and Aunt Aut’s, 2015

I hadn’t seen family and friends for over 5 years. Most of the visible changes were with my cousins who I hadn’t seen since they were kids and now they are in college! My grandma seemed more frail and emotional. I used to hang on her every word in an effort to record what little is left of our connection to China, but I’ve since realized her memory can’t be trusted.

Talking and catching up with family and friends online is simply not the same as seeing them face to face. Many of my mom’s friends, my aunties, who I’ve known since I was a kid or a teenager have aged in startling ways only because I haven’t thought about it, and as I looked at them I thought about our mortality and the fact that this ride is slowing down and ending sooner than we want to imagine.

Then I learned, upon seeing an old friend that I needed to say that I was angry about something that had happened years ago. He was surprised and after the confession I realized the other person involved was wrong to have included him in his drama. I learned that I still harbored old feelings of insecurity towards my high school friend, but I sat with my old feelings and we had a gentle talk. These were powerful reminders that people and places stir up long forgotten emotions and whisper that there is still a test to pass.

There is a global financial crisis that I keep hearing about, too. It’s bound to happen soon. Apparently printing money you don’t have isn’t a smart thing to do. Actually, I find this terrifying because I’ve never lived in a time where my currency could potentially become like Confederate dollars, useless. And I don’t see this as a conspiracy theory, but a real problem with government mismanaging money and the ultra rich continuously getting away with murder.

This, coupled with the news that my high school friend suddenly died of a heart attack, has left me thinking about how much time do we really think we have here? He was just on my FB wall making smart ass remarks and making me laugh. Life got smaller because he was such a fireball and my heart goes out to his 5 year old that he left behind. I don’t understand it.

I can’t take anything for granted anymore. I don’t believe in guarantees. And it’s not like I haven’t shared my own gratitude journey, written a gratitude journal or meditated on these kinds of things.  I do the work, but it doesn’t mean unjust things don’t happen anymore. I think that’s part of the problem with over doing self-help or positive thinking crap. There is no silver lining when great tragedy strikes and if you are claiming there’s one it’s because you aren’t the one directly affected by it. Let’s be real and let us be sensitive.

// I’m glad I made the trek back home. I saw the people I needed to see.

Visiting Dad at Punchbowl Cemetary.
Visiting Dad at Punchbowl Cemetery.

// I ate the food that I love and can’t get anywhere else in the world. I think special is just the way food tastes when it comes from home.

Spam musubi goodness.
Spam musubi goodness.

// I got to go through family photos and experience memory lane with new eyes.

Larry, Mom and me at Doi Suthep, Chiang Mai, 1979.
Larry, Mom and me at Doi Suthep, Chiang Mai, 1979.

// Although, I couldn’t escape Thai holidays as they followed me home. You can take the girl out of Thailand, but…

Nooooooooo...
Nooooooooo…

// Going Stateside also allowed me to order physical copies of my book and hold them in my hands for the first time. It was nice. I donated a copy to my local library and the manager told me that it’s currently going through collections and cataloguing. I hope it makes its way to the shelves! Thanks to those who reviewed it on Amazon because the library manager asked me if my book had reviews – I guess it helps! I had no idea.

A big thank you, mahalo to those who downloaded, purchased and read my book!
A big thank you, mahalo, to those who read my book! Mad love for participating in my dream come true.

// And thanks to Otter Mei, who emailed to say that she’s grateful for me, just out of the world wide blue.  You are loved, too.

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24 thoughts on “the urgency of today, going home, gaining perspective

  1. Yes to this – “But life has turned when her vulnerability seems greater than mine.” It definitely gives you an odd perspective. I went home after every year abroad, and each time I realized that my parents are like. . .old people now. They’re in their sixties and my dad has had some near misses over the past few years, which makes me glad I’m living close by these days.

    And yay for physical book copies!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It must be nice to be near them now. Good for you. They are probably over the moon that you are closer, too! 🙂 Thanks, Kelly!

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  2. Life is on a constant change but going home always reminds you on how everything started.i practically live with my parents now again (okay two floors a both them in this building) and recently I also saw some older pictures. It is kind of hard to see how they slowly getting older and more fragile with their 70years. Thankfully during summer they are rather active as each morning my mother is riding her bicycle around the lake (14km so I guess around 7ish miles?) and dad takes a bigger tour between 30 and 60km. Furthermore they are the whole day outside so it keeps them a bit healthy 🙂

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    1. Yes. I love your first sentence. Going home was a full-circle moment indded. And I’m extremely thankful that my mom is active and enjoys a good balance of busy and relaxation.

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  3. Glad that your trip was a busy one, catching up with everyone and taking in the familiar sights around you. I’m glad your mum is okay after she fell. It’s scary when things like that happen to our parents. You never think they do…but they do. And when things like that do happen and hits us hard, we realise that life is really fragile and vulnerable 😦

    Wonderful news that your hometown library is putting your book on their shelves. You must feel famous. C’mon, admit it. Such an honour and I’m very proud and happy for you 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahahaha. Well, it’s going through the system and hopefully it passes muster. I was surprised by how kind the manager was, I mean, she was so nice and thankful and I’m like, you’re doing me a favor, too!

      Ah, parents. Yes, we don’t appreciate them enough sometimes.

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  4. I like your honesty, Lani, and I hear you, as going ‘home’ always stirs up so many conflicting emotions and memories for me, too. Funny how, when one lives far away from one’s family, how things otherwise forgotten, can bubble up again in unexpected ways.

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  5. I’m glad you’re mum isn’t worse for wear because of the fall. I hope she takes her diet seriously, I hope we all do.

    It is true, “…people and places stir up long forgotten emotions and whisper that there is still a test to pass.” You sound as though you passed yours.

    All the best with your book!

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  6. Ah – the cholesterol wrap. LOL. Looks yum. This is the second dispirited post I’m reading here. =) But yeah, that’s life. No guarantees. Your mom looks amazing at her age. I’m glad she seems ok despite the fall.

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    1. Sorry it’s such a downer! The death of my friend really took me down and reflection can sometimes feel sober and serious. Thanks for your thoughts!

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  7. I’m so sorry to hear about your mom’s health and the passing of your friend. It is so alarming how fast life moves. I’m in the same situation right now. I’m returning home to Beijing after several years away and everything is so different. My grandpa now has Alzheimer and can no longer remember me. Like you said, it adds a sobering dimension. I shudder to think what it would be like the next time I return. But I’m glad that now, I have the flexibility to return home more often so. I wish all the best for your mom! My grandma developed diabetes in old age as well.

    I also got your book on my Kindle and am currently reading it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Alzheimers.That’s really rough. I can’t imagine and don’t want to. I find it utterly heartbreaking. Didn’t know you were a Bejing girl. My father’s from there, too! We could be related! 😛

      Thanks for Kindling along. I hope you like it. *bites nails*

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  8. Very good read. I must say it made me sad, though. It’s really more of personal thing, but I do like what you have shared. Oh, and congrats for getting your actual copy of your book 🙂

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    1. I know!!! I didn’t think of it as so sad when I wrote it. Seriously! Thanks for reading and I’m glad to see you are back. I hope you are feeling 100% again. xxoo

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  9. So glad for you that you went back home in Hawai’i. Good that your mother recovered.

    Yes, it’s an enormous shock when a friend dies around same age as oneself. I won’t be visiting my family this year because already I visited them 3,000 km. away 3 times last year. That’s the problem of living in a big country like Canada or the U.S.: travel is expensive. The last visit (2 wks. before my injury) was to my father’s funeral. There I met cousins we hadn’t seen for nearly 7 years. Seeing them around my age with grey hair, some ready for early retirement..like the one my age who has 4 children.

    I have to remind myself that I’m in grandmother-like aging ranks since my oldest niece is 30 yrs. old! I know that I look more tired in the face compared to 7 yrs. ago.

    Hawai’i with its unique eco-cultural history would heighten the sense of special transience and vulnerability.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It sounds like you had gone through a similar experience. It’s just crazy to watch everyone around you age – including yourself. I don’t think it starts to hit you until after 40, unless youv’e had to deal with older parents or a sobering circumstance.

      Yeah, aging. I’m NOT doing all that I could do to retain my youth. Hahhaaa. But after Hawaii, I’m more focused on my health. Vanity, to a large extent, has to be let go, if I keep things in perspective and I want to do just that.

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  10. It is true, there is no place like home! I’m glad your mom is doing okay and the fall wasn’t serious. Diabetes is such a terrible disease and I’m sure she appreciated the support and education that you offered her. Wonderful to see old friends and family, funny how they age when we aren’t looking isn’t it?

    Liked by 1 person

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