My Mother’s parents

As my grandparents age, it has become a goal for my Mother to visit them at least twice a year. My mother asked if I would like to join her to visit this time.

Flying into Canada, miles tickets always means layovers. We went south to Atlanta GA before heading north to Ontario.

I always remembered a distinct smell in Canada. I’ve come to assume it was just clean air that I often was separated from during my childhood in Hong Kong. Although that’s not to say I don’t observe a distinct scent in the house which I’ve come to acknowledge as a proper balance of musty, old, and a very specific soap or lotion that has meld together to form a trinity of smell, separable but often observed as one.

We finally arrived to Granny-ma and Grandad’s at around 8 PM. They hadn’t eaten dinner and were waiting for us.

My mom distinctly reminded me that Grandad was partially blind in one and and also deaf in one ear so that I wouldn’t accidentally irritate him by speaking too quietly. That being said, I still had to repeat myself many times throughout the visit.

Much of the appliances and pots and pans were the same utensils that I had grown up seeing fifteenish years ago. The things holding a sort of nostalgia to them.

The tv is the only thing that has observably changed. Once held in high regard, since our family didn’t have TV (channels) I would sneak in early in the morning and flip it on to watch cartoons, much to the same excitement a child would have on Christmas morning. 

This trip I hadn’t touched the TV.

One evening, my mother watched the news with her parents. She mentioned how different it was to American news. I took a second to take in the sounds. The host was giving a speech on the recent Quebec City shooting, making a point of Canadian’s togetherness and empathy towards the circumstances, disregarding political associations.


I’m now in the room my sister and I would share. I remember being so hyper and joyful in this space. The magic of everything still existed. The bookshelf full of wonder, the air full of wonder, the dirt full of wonder. When I would finally becalmed down enough to be put in bed. I would stay awake thinking about everything, there was too much new to be taken in at such a young age.

Their days can be seen to be heavily influenced by their time in England. Often having a dinner and a supper (a light meal/snack before they slept.) 

Their days would cycle through repetitively. They had their spots in the house, they read often, got up for meals and were consistent in timing those out. I would occasionally hear Grandad ask Granny-ma what time it was to figure out if it was time for food. Their growing immobility limiting when and where they can go, especially during winter time. There was snow consistently on the ground through my week in Canada.

It was nice to be able to take my grandparents out one of the days. We brought my Grandmother to visit her good friend and maid of honor in Toronto. We also took my Grandfather to visit the AGO

We got home and rested.

My Grandfather would often speak in a combination of one to two word phrases and grunts. Something we all had to learn to decipher. I often would respond with something else somewhat in the context of what I believed him to be referring to in order to probe his desires or goals. Often he would repeat the same thing. Only when he was fed up with the fact that most people hadn’t a clue what he was talking about would he divulge and actually use words to say what he had been trying to say.

Considered rude outside the context of our family, we mostly ignore that and continue to play into his poor attempts at communication. Something I’m sure we will reflect with humor and fondly in the future.

It is a treat to have a lot of the family together or around on Sunday. A rare happening these days. The family growing continuously as more people are starting to build their own family’s.

It’s easy to become disconnected to family being in the middle of two worlds. One heavily Chinese, one very much European and now in an arguably different North American country (compared to the States). But it’s nice to observe origins and feed into them and know your roots.

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