Tuesday, October 10, 2006

My Nai Nai

Inspired by Amelia of My Fashionable Life, today's post will be dedicated to some interesting tidbits that I know about my grandma, Nai Nai (who is still living a strong existence in a nursing home today). I'm not totally certain of her age since it is according to the Chinese calendar, but my guess is that she is about 96 years old.

Knowledge of my ancestors is shamefully lacking and obviously full of big gaps. However, I'll do my best to record whatever I can remember off the top of my head. According to my family, my dad was adopted by my Nai Nai in China after her own child died at age two or three. My dad's own biological family could not afford to care for him when he was born (he was the seventh or eighth son to an opium-addicted father), so they sold him to my Nai Nai. My dad's biological brothers later tried to claim him back into the family when he was old enough to help farm and work the rice fields, but my dad wisely chose to stay with Nai Nai. To this day, my dad does not know the name of his own biological mother. Nai Nai refuses to tell him. She most likely plans to take this piece of information to the grave with her. Dad tells us he is still curious, but he does not outwardly appear to be too bothered by Nai Nai's decision.

We've heard stories that my grandma and my dad have seen and interacted with "ghosts" in China.

Nai Nai has survived being tortured by the Japanese back in the early 50s.

After my Nai Nai's land and property were taken away in China, my dad had to beg for food for survival.

My grandfather (Nai Nai's husband) worked in (BC) Canada where he was a cook in Prince Rupert.

"Nai Nai" isn't the typical name given for "grandma" in Cantonese--it is only reserved for those with a higher status. According to my dad, there was a general on my grandma's side of the family which gave her the right to use the "Nai Nai" title.

Honoring the memories of our ancestors is such an excellent (and important) topic! Thanks Amelia, for inviting us to do so. Hats off to all those who took the time to pay tribute to our ancestors, whether in thought or writing.