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.

  1. The par­ties were a chance for adults to sing and talk, so the kids did their own thing. []