On Mother’s Day I had to call my grandma, who is living in Hong Kong. I say I “had to” because it wasn’t my idea to call.
It’s not that I don’t love my grandma. I do love my grandma, but it is only because she is my grandma that I love her.
For example, I love my mother because she is my mother, but I also love her because she is an amazing person- the strongest woman I know. I love her contagious high-pitch laugh. I love how her eyes dart over to mine when we share a silent giggle at something we’re not actually supposed to laugh about. I love my mother but not just because she is my mother.
I don’t really know anything about my grandma. I have no idea what places she’s traveled to, what she used to do as a job, or what she and her friends liked to do for fun. I don’t really know her as a person. I don’t know what makes her tick, what makes her soar, or what makes her laugh until her stomach hurts.
A large part of it is because my family immigrated to Canada when I was very little. After all these years of living so far away, I am not close to my grandma. Our conversations revolve around school, school, school and listening to my parents. After awhile, I find myself wanting to pass the phone onto the next person.
I wanted to talk to my grandma about the funny thing that happened to me over the weekend. I wanted to tell her about my new job. I wanted to tell her that it was my birthday. Instead, I just told her I would continue to study hard.
It’s a weird feeling talking to my grandma. I’m sure others feel the same way, but you almost feel as if you want to start crying. My dad always talks about how my grandma used to bring me to the store and buy me candy and how happy I get, but I don’t really remember that at all.
I think it’s a sad outcome. Part of it lies with me because I don’t call often. Another part of this predicament is blamed on the poor communication between us – her English and my Cantonese. I just can’t find the right words to communicate what I actually want to say in a way that she will understand. I almost feel as if she won’t understand even if I said it right.
I have gained many things by moving to Canada- the privilege of higher education, expanded career opportunities, great friends, and a beautiful city. But I have also lost things in this tradeoff, and a deep relationship with my grandma is one of them.