This afternoon, I attended the funeral of Grandma Jewell, Kristyn's grandmother. I thought it was a really good service, but at the same time, I don't have very many funeral experiences to compare this to.
During the whole service, I found myself thinking that I may be attending one of these very soon for my grandfather. I received an email from my dad last night with news that he's not doing very well, and unless his condition improves, he may need to go into the hospital. Even as I ponder writing this post, I find myself wanting to delete it. To me, it seems a bit too morbid and perhaps wrong to be writing about someone whom I love dearly in a manner that makes them sound like they have passed away, but in reality, they have not. I desire to be as optimistic as I possibly can, which is why I want this post to be one that remembers and celebrates my grandfather. Let me tell you about the James Chen, aka, Grandpa, that I know, love and revere.
I remember during my childhood, I would always look forward to our summer vacations where we could go to San Francisco and live at Grandpa's house. He would always do stuff with us boys, whether it was kicking around a soccer ball in his backyard, play badminton in his front yard, go for drives out to the bakery and stuff us with eclairs, or sit and watch cartoons with us. I also remember that every chance he got, he would teach us something new.
I remember one summer where Grandpa was sitting at his desk opening mail, and I came up to him and asked 'Grandpa, whatcha doin'?' He looked at me and said 'I'm opening my mail.' Upon further inspection, I noticed that he was using a knife-shaped object to open his mail, to which I asked:
'Grandpa, what's that?'
'It's a letter opener. You wanna try?'
(with eyes the size of quarters and a smile that pushed my chubby cheeks up) 'YES!!!!!'
He put the letter opener in my hand, and with his hand on mine, he guided it down the side of the envelope with what seemed like surgical precision.
I also remember a time when we were sitting in the kitchen eating watermelon. As we were eating away and spitting out the seeds, my brother and I thought 'What if we took these seeds and planted them in Grandpa's garden so he can have his own watermelon tree? That way he doesn't need to buy watermelon from the garden.' If Kevin Chen from 2007 could travel back in time and have a chat with Kevin Chen at the kitchen table stuffing his face with watermelon, I would've said
'What, are you stupid or something? You can't plant watermelons with these seeds!!'
In my mind, this is what most people would be thinking to themselves, but my Grandpa responded to our juvenile sense of curiosity with
'That'd be great!! I love watermelon!!'
So off we went, into the backyard to dig a hole where we deposited what seemed like about 100 seeds. After we covered the seeds up with dirt, I went back to the kitchen with this insane grin on my face, as if I had managed to accomplish some life changing task. I come up next to Grandpa and say
'It's all done!!'
To which he replies 'Well, next summer when you come back, there'll be a great big watermelon tree in the garden!!'
It is little things like these that I remember, because I've learned that sometimes it's the small, and somewhat inconsequential events in our lives that become our fondest memories. Yea, I will always remember the hard times like when my Grandpa went through a crazy divorce, and when at the last time I saw him, he kept asking me 'Who are you?' As painful as these times were, I will always remember Grandpa as a man who loved us kids and probably gave in ways that I more often than not took for granted. I will always remember him as an amazing man who taught me a great deal. I will always remember Grandpa as the man who had a huge role in shaping me into the person I am today.
I love you Grandpa.