I’ve been getting to know one of my aunts.
Aside from annual holiday parties where the families would gather, we never spoke. But then again, I never spoke with any of the “grown-ups“1, as they offered little of interest to someone my age.
We’ve become sounding boards for each other. She tells me about how she’s approaching my grandmother’s treatments — the types of therapy, the medications, decisions on when to go to see the doctor — and I tell her about my relationships with my mom and dad.
I find it quite amazing that she’s so aware of the influence of Chinese culture in her life. She seems to be adapting to the generation gap and culture differences, or perhaps keeping them in mind, when it comes to treating her own Canadian-born daughter, which is far beyond what my parents were capable of. Until I really started talking with her, I believed that all Chinese parents were the same; too blind or too stubborn to understand how to raise first-generation Canadian children.
It amazes me how strong she is. She’s the one who makes sure my grandmother eats, drinks, takes her pills, sleeps, and walks. The one who cleans up after grandma when she has to go, but can’t make it to the bathroom in time. She dropped everything — her husband, her daughter, her real estate practice — to be here indefinitely, and has taken charge of all my grandmother’s care.
I tried to tell her that I admired her for everything she’s doing, but she wouldn’t let me continue. She’s having a hard time keeping it together, and is afraid that grandma may see her crying and realize how serious her sickness is. I wish I could give her some relief, a hug even, or just 15 minutes to let it all out. I guess there will be plenty of time for that soon enough.
For now, we have each other.
- The parties were a chance for adults to sing and talk, so the kids did their own thing. [↩]