It wasn't until recently, four years after my grandma died, that I realized she had an accent. It came up in a conversation when my dad said. "When I first met Grandma Susan (his mother-in-law) I had hard time understanding her." She was always my grandma who fed me snacks and took me shopping. Not my Chinese grandma who immigrated to America when she was 18.
Actually she was born in America when her parents were trying to move to the states but they were deported because their interviews didn't match up. Since my grandma was born in American soil she was able to come back alone when she was 18. She lived with my great grandfather's American friends in Gilroy, CA. She learned most of her English from watching TV and attended high school at some point. She married, had my mother in 1961 and was divorced by the time my mom was seven. (My timeline of events is not very strong.) The only job I remember her having before she retired was doing office work for the community colleges. She also sponsored her sister's family and brother's family to come to America in the 70s. My grandma grew up in China but loved being an American. She loved eating just bok choy and rice for dinner but also loved Burger King Whoppers and Jack in the Box tacos. She shopped in Chinatown but liked going to the Mexican grocery store a few blocks away go check out discounted produce. We celebrated Chinese New Year (and still do) by cleaning the house the night before and having a huge feast the day of. We also celebrated St. Patrick's day with corned beef, potatoes and cabbage. Point is, there are so many ways we all identify as Americans and as immigrants because hello melting pot. Of course, if you really want to show off some spirit a dress that matches your car does it quite well.
Issue No. 18 • Spring 2017