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Friday
May012015

The year is 2083

 

My recent trip back to Asia, I made it a priority to spend as much time as I could with my paternal grandparents (Yeye and mama). Specifically, my grandfather who is 96 years old now.

The signs of old age seemed exponentially more apparent than when I saw him just 10 short months ago.

And I wonder, what would it be like to live close to 100 years. An entire century of witnessing the world.
Both my grandparents have seen all five of their children get married and have seen their 7 grandchildren grow up. In addition, they lived through the Second World War, civil war, the depression and the boom of Hong Kong's population.

The story behind the Mak family is quite an interesting one and certainly one that I would want to learn more about because details are foggy.

Yeye's father arrived to work on the railroad in the states. He worked hard and sent money back to his family whenever he could. He survived and started up a laundromat where he continued to work abroad till the end of his life (unable to get his family over, he never saw them again).

His death was discovered when there were several days when the laundromat didn't open. My great grandfather's friend went in and found that he had passed away. He also found all this money my great grandfather was saving. I do not know this man's name but acknowledge that he started a series of events that would start a domino effect all the way up to 2015 where I stand today.

He took all the money, went back to China and found my Yeye. At that point, Hong Kong was still a port city without much development. This mystery gentleman gave my Yeye advice that would change the course and the game. The advice, to take all of the money and buy up as much land as possible in Hong Kong.

A young Yeye with a dream.So, Yeye set on a path to get forged documents to get his family out of China during the war. I don't know why (and need to find out why) but he had to go to Venezuela to get the papers all sorted. Our family name was then changed to Chan so that the family could escape China and get to Hong Kong.

And to Hong Kong he went, bought empty packets of land... And watched as Hong Kong exploded in population. This enabled him to provide for his growing family and have the means to send each of his children to top schools in Hong Kong and to pay the tuition for post-secondary education in Canada.

My dad stayed in Canada to work and after about a year of snail mail love letters to my mom (whom he met on a tour in Thailand), they would marry and shortly later, I'd come into this world.

I don't recall my childhood in Hong Kong but there are many pictures from the 80s posted into picture frames and underneath glass tops on desks all around the flat as well as pictures documenting all the grandchildren growing up. Even the awkward teen picture (haha).

Going back there with more understanding and reflection leaves me in a place of so much gratitude for the rich history of my family. For my great grandfather's sacrifice in leaving his homeland and family for a country he would not know the language, where arduous and back breaking railroad labour would be his day to day, to continue working hard and taking a leap of entrepreneurial gusto and for giving the nugget that would blossom for generations to come. For my Yeye in raising his family with all the opportunities of the world, for my first car (to make getting to school easier for me as I chose a self-directed and self-taught high school with special acceptance nearly 1hr away via public transit), for loving me (he always used to peel my fruit for me after dinner), for being the light that shines for all his family and for pushing each of us to be our best.Mama carefully walks down the stairwell so that she can wave at me while we drive off to the airport (and I want to cry)

My dad being able to do his schooling in Canada would give me the opportunity to grow up with not only the comforts of life but the grand luxury to choose my passion and my path. Being a yoga teacher is definitely a fringe path for an Asian family's child to take and I am only able to do it because of the hard work, sacrifices and love from generations past.

I can only hope that by 2083, I am able to continue forging forward, continue to witness the evolution of self and of the world and to leave a legacy that touches others and changes lives of perhaps my own family.

100 years.
Wow.
So much can be done.

Yeye and mama's first two kids (my uncle and dad)

A younger Yeye and Mama with their young family.

Mama and Yeye today

My dad as a wee boyA young Kate Mak in Hong Kong playing with water (my favourite)

 

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