A Different Kind of Understanding

The doc­tor told us she has anoth­er 5–6 months. Her colon is so enlarged from the tumor that it’s thick­er than her spine, and the pro­ce­dure was just a tem­po­rary solu­tion to pre­vent fur­ther block­ages.

How strange it is to “know” how much time there is left. I guess that’s why they call it a dead­line. I had already assumed that this would going to be the last time I could see her, but that won’t make it any eas­i­er when I have to leave.

I’m grate­ful to the peo­ple who have been send­ing me their regards. It’s a nice com­fort. One of the best pieces of advice came from Charlotte, who told me to “not leave any­thing at all unsaid to her…leave no ques­tions unan­swered, and to not with­hold any affec­tion you feel for her”.

I had come to Hong Kong with the inten­tion of telling my grand­ma how impor­tant she was to me. Finding the right words in Chinese to express exact­ly what I want­ed to say.

But try­ing to speak with her has made me real­ize that she does­n’t care about any of that. She’s a very prac­ti­cal woman, almost to the point of tact­less­ness. For almost her entire life, mar­ried at 14 and as a sin­gle par­ent of sev­en kids, she’s had no time for words or feel­ings.

I’m here, and that’s how she under­stands how I feel.


  1. My grand­fa­ther passed away very sud­den­ly 2 years ago. I live 400 miles away from him and remem­ber that he always just enjoyed a vis­it from my wife and I. We nev­er talked about any­thing deep or seri­ous, he just want­ed to see how we were doing, exchange sto­ries, and just enjoy our com­pa­ny. Those are the times I will always remem­ber. My grand­moth­er is still alive and she is the same way. She just loves us to vis­it and sit and talk. Nothing deep, just how life is going. That prac­ti­cal­i­ty is always nice because there is just a no-non­sense air about her that I wish I could have.

    My con­do­lences on the impend­ing loss of your grand­ma. Take solace in the mem­o­ries you have and will cre­ate. Also, remem­ber there will always be a part of her with you, and she has influ­enced your life in ways you may nev­er know or real­ize.

    • It’s good to know that some­thing so sim­ple can mean so much to some­one. I’m still dis­cov­er­ing my grand­moth­er’s influ­ence in my life every day that I’m here in Hong Kong, direct­ly or indi­rect­ly (through my rel­a­tives). I’ve made a point of tak­ing as many pho­tos and videos as pos­si­ble, and I hope my fam­i­ly will appre­ci­ate it lat­er on.

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