My heart is filled with warmth and sweetness as I reflect on the fond memories of my late great-grandfather, whom I affectionately called Tai-Yeh, and my maternal grandma, Po-Po. Their beautiful story of acceptance and love that transcended cultural, ancestral, and social expectations is a testament to the grace and wisdom of my grandparents, for which I am eternally grateful.
My father, the first of eight younger siblings to tie the knot, respected the customs of the ethnic culture. In contrast, my mother, the youngest of three, was the last to wed. My mother, a registered nurse working in a private hospital, was under immense societal and family pressure to produce a boy, as my paternal grandparents and great-grandparents eagerly awaited a grandson to carry the ancestral name and legacy. As the first of nineteen grandchildren born to my maternal and paternal grandparents, my arrival was eagerly awaited. Despite being a girl and having health complications from the start, my grandparents and great-grandparents embraced me with open hearts and unbridled affection. Their unwavering support and unconditional love gave me the confidence to overcome the hurdles of being a girl in a culture that values male heirs above all else. Their grace and wisdom inspired me, and I am forever grateful for their unwavering love. Their example is a testament to the power of familial bonds and the enduring strength of love that knows no cultural boundaries.
One of my most treasured childhood memories is sitting on my Tai-Yeh great-grandfather's lap. He would visit me almost daily, and I would often doze off while resting on his warm and comfortable tummy. My late maternal grandma, Po-Po, was also a kind and gentle soul who would often hide delicious treats in my desk drawers and wish me well each school day. Her heart was filled with unconditional positive regard for me and others; her words were like balms with hope, affirmation, and belief, and she modelled a grace-filled countercultural approach to life despite living in a male-dominated culture and society.
To honour the wish of my great-grandfather for a male descendant, my parents decided to name me after the name he had chosen before my birth. This was a gesture of regard and respect towards my great-grandfather, Tai-Yeh, and my name will always remind me of him and his genuine blessings upon me, his first great-grandchild. My Chinese name is composed of two characters: the first character embodies the meaning of “wisdom,” and the second character carries the beautiful meanings of “understanding” and “brightness” (a character that combines the “sun” and the “moon”).
As I kindle a candle in their memory, I am struck by the sanctity of life and the importance of cherishing every sacred moment with our loved ones. All Souls Day is a time to pay homage to those who have departed from us. It also encourages us to steer our lives towards relationships imbued with meaning, which surpass and deepen beyond systemic, cultural, and social dimensions - akin to how my great-grandparents lived. On this occasion, I fondly and gratefully recollect my late Tai-Yeh and Po-Po.
Authored by Ivy Clark