Before It's Too Late

Hi, Friends! Are you ready for my next installment of what I’m grateful for?

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To be honest, this blog was going to be about something different than what I’m going to share with you today. Because I really, really wanted to show you this beautiful picture and tell you how thankful I am that autumn has finally decided to visit my little corner of the world. I mean, LOOK AT THE GORGEOUSNESS!!! How could you not be grateful for beauty like that? But, something happened last week that made decide to go in a different direction. Notice how I still got you to look at my picture, though?  :)

If it makes you uncomfortable to read about my personal life, you should probably just stop reading here. Because I’m going there, and with a decent amount of detail. Fair warning—it’s a long post.

What I’m most grateful for as I’m writing this blog today is my family. I know, I know, that sounds trite. And I’m not even talking about my immediate family—that’s next time! For those of you who don’t know, I’m an only child. But I come from a HUGE family. My father is one of six children and my mother is one of seven. See? I told you. Mom’s side of the family is particularly close, and that’s who we routinely do family reunions with and who I’m writing about today. 

In the pecking order, Mom is the sixth child. She has 5 older sisters and a younger brother who tragically died before his time and we miss him dearly. In Chinese culture, you call your aunts and uncles by number. So, there’s Aunt and Uncle #1, Aunt and Uncle #2, you get the idea. In fact, I’m ashamed to admit that until my wedding when I had to send out invitations, I didn’t even know some of the proper names of my aunts and uncles. We've always just called them by number. The 3’s, 4’s are going on a trip together. Oh, the 5’s are going too? Long story short, Mom and Dad are the 6’s. And the sisters (and their husbands) are close, even if geography says differently.  

My aunts are a fun and quirky group of ladies. And incredibly talented—each of them. They get that from their mother, along with their delightful sassiness, big hearts, and—well, we’ll call it just a hint of—stubbornness. My sweet grandmother lived until she was 99 and was still sharp as a pin. Of course, we also tease about the Ng gene—it’s the one that we blame for the absentmindedness that’s also been passed down to (gasp!) even my generation. 

One of my favorite things each summer is our family reunion. All the sisters and their husbands gather together at one of their homes. And the younger generation (that’s us! Even if we now are all well beyond, ahem, our 40’s) tag along when we have the time. The older generation visits together around food and tea (always the food and tea!) while the rest of us entertain all their grandkids. I try to make it a priority. I know that our time together is precious and I want my boys to experience, for themselves, the love and chaos that is our family—to be able to feel that connection.

I am so incredibly proud and honored and grateful to call these women (and the men who love them) my family. They lived through World War II and watched their father go off to fight. They watched their mother heroically keep all six daughters (my uncle wasn’t born yet) and a young cousin together, fed, and healthy during that time. Eventually, they would all independently immigrate to the United States and Canada from China—one aunt as early as 16 years old, and on her own. They came for education and a chance at a better life. So that we—their children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren—could have a chance at a better life. And we do. Because of their sacrifice and hard work. It’s on their shoulders that we stand upon. 

I could go on and on about them, and fill books with their accomplishments. Can you tell? So why share all this with you?

Well, we found out recently that one of the sisters is seriously ill. And it reminded me that we are never promised tomorrow. I don't want one more day to pass without letting my amazing aunts and uncles (and Mom and Dad) know how very, very grateful I am for them. For their courage and strength, for their vision and love, for their talent and hardwork, for their sassiness and stubbornness. But most of all, I’m grateful that I get to call them mine.

Aren’t they the cutest?! Aunts, left to right: #5, #6 (Mom), #3, #1, #2, #4, and #7 (my uncle’s wife!). Uncles, left to right: #5, #6 (Dad), #3, and #4

Aren’t they the cutest?! Aunts, left to right: #5, #6 (Mom), #3, #1, #2, #4, and #7 (my uncle’s wife!). Uncles, left to right: #5, #6 (Dad), #3, and #4

Who are you grateful for in your life? Don’t let even one more day pass before you tell them.

-Chris

Chris Warcotea, ChrisComment