When I was little, my dad would tell me about what it was like to be a child during China’s Great Famine. He told me that he would eat ants off the ground for a brief sensation of what food tasted like, and laugh because in America I didn’t have to do that.
He would make us hard-boiled eggs and say, “You’re like me, eggs are your favorite,” and tell me how China used to ration 4 eggs per month per family, regardless of the number of family members. His was a family of 6. He told me he cried the first time he went to an American grocery store and saw a shelf full of eggs. I wonder what he would say if he knew my grocery store was rationing egg purchases today. But we can still get a dozen for a family of two.
He always served me first when he cooked, and I wondered if I could ever do that, if being grown-up meant feeding other people first. At the end of his life, he was starving to death as cancer destroyed his body. Yet he insisted on still teaching me to make our favorite dishes, and on our last day together he served me a full plate of food that I didn’t wish to eat alone.
Friday, March 13, 2009 was the last day I saw him alive, and Friday, March 13, 2020 was the first day I quarantined.
Friday, March 27, 2009, was the last day he and I spoke on the phone. I was in school and planning on visiting the following week, but he didn’t make it that long. This Friday, March 27th, I am pondering the old adage that it’s easy to complain about trivial hardships, and difficult to speak about real ones. I am asking myself, does sharing a story help to shatter the sorrow? When we are gone, can our stories live on?
While getting some fresh air in my back yard today, I saw this solo woodland crocus blooming in the grass. Even one flower is enough to make you believe that spring is here.