Ah-Yeh, a Tribute

On June 26, 2008, my father’s father (Ah-Yeh in Mandarin) passed away. Here is a tribute I wrote in 2006 on his 90th birthday.

One of the most vivid memories of Ah-Yeh was from my early teen years. I was sleeping over at my parents Tomich Road house, the one Sixth Aunt used to live in. I think Ah-Yeh resided there as well; I can’t remember it clearly. In any case, I was staying overnight, and made my bed in the family/TV room, somewhere on the floor.

I must have slept relatively lightly because at around 4am (from my guess at that time), I was suddenly aware of Ah-Yeh. He had woken up and was making his way to the back yard, passing through the family/TV room in the process. What was he doing? I can’t remember when I figured it out, but at sometime I realized his reason for going out – he needed to pray. And so my picture of Ah-Yeh, who he was, began to grow from here.

Prior to this, I can’t remember much, but I can imagine. In preparation for this essay, I spent some time looking through my old photographs of Ah-Yeh and our family. There was Ah-Yeh, in the early 80s, full head of dark hair, tan, and… I’m not sure. There was something deep in his eyes, some unspoken emotion. Perhaps it was from his years going through what the rest of us could never imagine: a world war, loss of a homeland, loss of a spouse, immigration. There’s a reason why the famed news anchor called those in Ah-Yeh’s generation the “Greatest Generation.” It’s true, it really is.

But the pictures changed. I don’t have a whole lot of them with me in San Diego, but the next set of photos of Ah-Yeh were, well, different. They’re from the mid to late 80s, when Ah-Yeh would purposefully not look into the camera. Instead, he would look away with a solemn, flint-like gaze. What was he thinking? More importantly, what was going on in his soul? Was he grieving and dealing with the radical changes going on in his life and family as time kept passing? Was there a dream forming through the brokenness and change he was going through, a dream born of the Spirit?

I don’t know what was going on in those pictures, but those photos remind me of something: Ah-Yeh was and is human. He was and is a human being like the rest of us, full of hope, hurt, desire, passion, and grief. It’s hard to remember this at times, at least for me, because grandparents (and parents) always seem like static figures- they’re the same day after day, year after year. But they’re not, and that’s the truth.

And that brings me back to this phase of being cognizant of Ah-Yeh, this phase that began one early morning on Tomich Road. Who is Ah-Yeh? He is a man, a true man, who has grown and matured with each passing season. He is a man, a true man, who has felt love and pain, life and death, youthfulness and age. He is a man, a true man, who is living a true life, a life of Spirit and flesh, a life of body and soul. And he will become a man, a full man, one day when his decaying body will be resurrected- perfect, invincible, void of all pain and sorrow.

Ah Yeh, thank your for showing us how to live. Keep on living- not just physically, but with your soul. I can’t wait to see you once again when the imperishable comes, and we finally get to see the One we’ve been longing for all these years.

May 2006


1 Comment»

  Johnny wrote @

…a wonderful tribute, Yucan.



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