From the Archives: Thinking of My Grandma Here in China

Hanging out with John's grandmother at the front door of the family house.
Hanging out with John’s grandmother at the front door of the family house.

It has been one whirlwind week with way too much going on — including the discovery that my grandmother here in China isn’t feeling well.

She has a heart condition (which put her in the hospital multiple times in 2013 and early 2014). While she’s doing much better this year, she hasn’t been sleeping well recently, and the result is she may be returning to the hospital today.

Since I’m taking a break from posting today, I wanted to honor my grandmother by sharing several posts I’ve written about my close relationship with her. It’s funny — I still can only hold simple conversations with her (she only speaks the local dialect) and yet I sense the deep love between us.

Here’s hoping she gets well soon.

My Chinese Grandma, Frying Up Rice Noodles — And Lots of Love. Grandma has never hugged or kissed me, nor told me she loves me. But these days — and especially after this impromptu dinner — I’ve never felt closer to her.

To learn dialect or not? When your Chinese family doesn’t speak Mandarin Chinese. You should have seen the way John’s Grandma beamed at me when I opened her door and finally called her “Abu!” It warmed my soul to know that we were finally communicating for the first time in years.

Ask the Yangxifu: Why Does My Chinese Family Refuse My Gifts? Giving gifts to your Chinese family (and even friends) can feel like a battle. Take my Chinese grandmother, for example. When I gave her some American ginseng tablets from the US, she scowled at me and even pushed them away with her hands, saying “I don’t want them, I don’t want them” while she shook her head.

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4 thoughts on “From the Archives: Thinking of My Grandma Here in China

  • October 26, 2015 at 10:09 pm

    I hope Abu improves soon. I’m really impressed that you made such an effort to learn her dialect. If that’s not love, I don’t know what is!

    There’s just something about grandmothers. Andy’s Popo is the only reason I was tempted to learn Cantonese. (Because I’m pretty sure I don’t want to know what his mother and father are saying about me!)

    • October 27, 2015 at 1:01 pm

      Thanks Autumn! Yes, there indeed is something about grandmothers that can inspire you to learn a dialect. But yes, it will mean you’ll hear a lot more than perhaps you want to know. 😉

  • October 27, 2015 at 4:33 pm

    Oh, no! I hope she gets well soon!

    PS. Abu is also grandma in Suzhou dialect! 😀

  • November 1, 2015 at 9:38 pm

    This comment is a little late but I am hoping Abu is feeling better now.

    I remember when you posted the post on learning John’s dialect. Learning other languages or even a dialect shows a lot of love and it also helps slow down Alzheimer’s and dementia.


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