June 9, 2015



I never knew my grandfather. When I was a child, I was selfish and was just interested in knowing what gifts he brought me when he visited. When I was a teen, I was excited to spend time with him despite the language barrier, but had a difficult time conversing so our relationship was one of simply mutual love and respect. When I was older, I was scared to speak with him given the continued language barrier and his developing Alzheimer’s.

With that said, I know he was a great man and I have always hoped I could live up to his accomplishments. The extent that I know my grandfather is simply this: He emigrated to Taiwan after the communist party took China with little to his name. He sacrificed his interest in engineering to join the military to support his family, and became a high ranking general in the army. He was a diplomat representing the interests of Taiwan and even helped open the San Francisco consulate. And above all else, he was able to send my father, uncle and aunt to the states to help them create a new and better life for themselves.

As a parent, it must be exceptionally difficult to send your kids away in the hopes they create a better future for themselves. I think I now understand the dynamic in my family when it comes to lack of communication. Conversation in my family always centered around pushing you to accomplish more and to learn more. To this day, my conversations with my family and extended family are quite lacking in depth. My parents were able to make enough to send me off to create a new future for myself and with that, I feel I was able to push my thinking and understanding of what I wanted in life. I almost wonder now if philosophical conversation is something for the well off, when you are already comfortable in your life and have the leisure to think and enjoy conversation without worries.

Ironically, the things I want in life and the qualities I want to represent are those that were mentioned my grandfather exemplified in his lifetime. Perhaps if I had gotten to know him earlier, I would have learned some of these lessons and thoughts much younger in my life.


It took me 30 years of my life to decide the one word that I always wanted to carry myself by. My grandfather always carried himself with respect. He respected everyone in his life, and was thankful for all of the luck and fortune that fall upon him and our family. My grandfather was a true gentleman, when he was younger, as a parent, and as he continued to age.


Something that people always comment about my personality, I finally understand how innate it really is. When most people age, they grow increasingly frustrated with their body and their environment. My grandfather was able to maintain an even temperament and pleasant demeanor despite his dementia, aging body, and foreign environment.


A lesson that you learn as you get older, love unconditionally. From a story about M&Ms, despite having to discipline my aunt when she was a child for being aggressive with my uncle, after a scolding he treated them both with candy because you should always love equality. Your children may make mistakes, and for that they should taught a lesson and learn from it, but trust they will learn over time and in the meantime you should always love them equally.


The most recent learning for myself is to simply enjoy happiness. My grandfather was happy to see his children pursue the career that he never had the opportunity to pursue. He was happy with his life, and until the end you could always see his happiness expressed through his love of food and eating. Enjoy even the simple things in life and you will have a happier life. There will always be challenges in life that leave you feeling unsatisfied, but at the end of the day, my circumstances are so much more fortunate than so many other people in this world, so find happiness just from that.


Grandfather, thank you for the life you have given me, the life that I almost took for granted as a child. I hope despite never being able to tell you of my accomplishments, I have made you proud and will continue to make you proud.

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