My flight to Ho Chi Minh City from Seattle was on Asiana Airline with a stop over in Seoul. A petite Korean grandmother and I shared a row with a seat between us.
She was very polite and generally non-intrusive, except for wanting to feed me. First, she insisted that I take half of her bag of gummy bears. The two courtesy pieces I took out of politeness just didn’t cut it. Then, she wanted me to finish her dinner (beef stroganoff), which she barely touched. Later, I had to eat half her chocolate almond bar, even after trying to refuse several times. Ever try to say ‘no’ to a Korean grandmother bent on feeding you? Not easy.
I love grandmothers. Once, on a crowded Metro in Paris, a French grandmother sitting next to my wife, shielded Shari’s (my wife’s) head from various backpacks of absent-minded teenagers clowning around with each other. Her disapproving look eventually settled down the youngsters, but she continued to hold Shari for a little longer for reassurance.
In Ho Chi Minh City on my last trip, I saw a granddaughter, around 11-years-old, in clean but worn clothes walk her elderly grandmother across a very busy street with obvious tenderness and steeled determination. It moves me to see such love and interdependence across generations.
I was very close to my late maternal grandmother who helped raise me in the most amazingly selfless way. I’m the first son of her only surviving child. She also had been a widow since her early 20’s, never remarrying. Myself and my siblings were her life. Unfortunately, like most youngsters, I didn’t appreciate her at the time while she was living with us. Her lessons of love, however, have very much stuck with me as an adult.
I fondly remember, she too loved to feed me.