Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Grandparents ♥

**Just to let you know, this blog entry is a little lengthy!

Today marks the 4th year that my dear Pog (Grandma from dad's side) passed away. I've been thinking about her a lot, and also my Yawm Txiv (Grandpa from mom's side) who is very sick at this time. While growing up, I've only known these two grandparents.

My Yawg (my dad's dad) passed away a very long time ago while still in Laos. I believe my dad was only 12 years old when my Yawg passed away. But my dad always told us stories about my Yawg, and what an honorable, hard working and amazing man he was. He was very respected and loved by many of his people. I now see where my dad gets it from! :)
My Niam Tais (mom's mom) passed away when I was only years old. I was given her name as my middle name in memory of her. Kalia Ying pao Ly Lo. I have also heard many wonderful stories about her from my cousins that grew up with her. She was a kind, sweet, and loving grandma. I believe that my mom also inherited a lot of my Niam Tais's characteristics.

My earliest memories of my Yawm Txiv was when he came to Utah to help my family move to California. I just remember him being really nice. As I grew up and learned more about him, I remember being amazed at what a brave and courageous he was. He played a very important roll during the Vietnam War. He was one of General Vang Pao's Generals. I heard stories about how he led hundreds of Hmong people through the jungles of Laos, and how he got food to them. Not only was he amazing because he led the Hmong people out of Laos, but because he brought my family into the church. In order to understand how amazing my Yawm Txiv is, you have to know a little bit about the Hmong culture. The Hmong culture believes in a Shaman, a person who acts as a mediator between the world of the dead and the world of the living. He performs spiritual healings by going into the underworld and bringing back the spirit of the person who is sick or lost. My Yawm Txiv was one of these Shaman, and a very respectable one to say the least. Very few people can become a Shaman, it's said that you're usually chosen, and he started at a very young age. A couple of years ago, I recorded my grandpa, and he told his life story. I was at awe. Many of the old folks say that The mother land (Laos) has "dab" or supernatural beings. He spoke of when he was still a Shaman, and how he went to the underworld and saw things. (Growing up in the LDS church, I've never been taught or heard of these Hmong beliefs, and so hearing these things gave me goosebumps, to think that these stories were real! I just found it fascinating.) While he was a Shaman he performed many spiritual healing for many people, but then one of his granddaughters got sick. He did his Shaman healing on her, and nothing he did worked. I remember he said, "Kuv ua tas kuv luj tswv yim thiab kuv lub zog lawm", it doesn't translate into Hmong very well, it means more than this but it basically means that he tried everything that he could think of and did everything that he could within his power, but still she was sick. So, in order to save her he gave up everything that he was and knew, to he decided to join this religion called Christianity, and accept Christ as his Savior. Because of this very brave decision, he brought his posterity into the church. It wasn't the LDS church that he joined at the time, but he opened the door to allowing us to find the Gospel. Many Hmong people who knew my Yawm Txiv as a Shaman either lost respect for him or shunned him. They couldn't understand why he would give up such a position of wealth (being a Shaman is also an occupation) and power. But I remember him saying that he has no regret whatsoever. Even though he gave up a lot, he gained back even more 10 fold. My Yawm Txiv is such a wise and humble man. I love my Yawm Txiv so much. It breaks my heart to know that he doesn't have much time and that he is my last living grandparent. I remember the day that my Pog died....and I was crying. My Yawm Txiv saw me and he came to me, and he said, "Me ntxhais, txhob quab, hmog. Tseem muaj Yawm Txiv." (Daughter, don't cry, there's still Grandpa) and then he patted my head. I'm so sad, but I also know that we have the Gospel, and so that means that we have everything...it means that families truly be together forever someday.

The family with Yawm Txiv and Niam Tais (Grandpa and Step-grandma)
Christmas 2010

My Pog has been such a HUGE part of my life. Both my parents had to work when I was younger, and so it was my Pog who stayed home and took care of us. My grandma was beloved by many, many people. My dad always told me stories of how generous and kind my grandma was. She never let anybody go hungry. And it was evident by how many people loved her when people would randomly come and visit her year round! She really was a special person. She was the second of 3 wives that my Yawg married. Thanks to Yawg, my dad's side of the family is crazy-confusing to try and keep track of who is who. I always have to draw pictures in head to see who is who. Anyway, my grandma was an amazing person and she had such a big heart.
Just writing this blog makes my mind flash back to a million things that remind me of my Grams. Elvis...biggest Elvis fan ever. She thought he was so handsome and always watched his movies. Her favorite Elvis movie was the one where he's in Hawai'i. Michael Jackson...another huge fan. She always talked about how handsome he was when he was younger. Soap Operh...General Hospital...every single day like at 12 noon. Needles, and thread, bright pink and green fabrics for making Hmong clothes for me and my sisters. Noodles, pizza, bread dipped in pepsi, hmong sausages, apples dipped in pepper, scrambled eggs were just a few of the things that she cooked for me and my sisters. My grandma wasn't like any other Hmong Grandma, literally, she wasn't Hmong. I don't even know how to say what my Grandma's ethnicity is in English, but she's doesn't have an ounce of Hmong blood. She was adopted into a Hmoob Yaj family when she was little and raised as a Hmong child. But what I meant by she wasn't like any other Hmong Grandma was that she was so funny, yet stern...and so stylish with her purple bottled perfume, furry black hat, and colorful sweaters that she wore. She had a mouth that could tongue-whip you, yet it was always out of love. My Pog also loved to make fun of people. She made fun of just about anyone that walked her way. She also gave nicknames to everyone. Some of those names were not so nice...but it was out of love and so you like it even if your name was something mean. :) Also, my grandma traveled a lot between California and Georgia. My dad and uncle lives here in California, but by Aunties all live in Georgia. I remember she was always so specific about her flights....she only flew Delta. Sometimes she'd stay with her for a year or 2 and then go to live with my Aunties for a year or 2 and then come back. It was always so much fun to have grandma come back home.

I remember when my grandma met Fi Dan. Fi Dan and I had been dating about 8 months, when she came back from Georgia. I was really nervous that she wasn't going to like or make fun of him so bad he'd leave! But I remember she looked at him and smiled...and then she just loved him from then on. I think she especially loved Fi Dan because he ate EVERYTHING that she made. He loves Hmong food, and so to this day he still talks about how he misses her cooking. I remember she would make Hmong food or something...and my siblings and I wouldn't eat it. Fi Dan would come over and gobble the thing down. So she started making lots of food, especially on the days that she knew Fi Dan would be visiting. She would get so mad at me for making spaghetti or Mikas cov mov (American food) for Fi Dan. I must say that my grandma grew very fond of Fi Dan. It makes me so happy to know that she approved. :)

Me, Kashia and Grams

Me, Grams and Fi Dan
We had a party for Grandma

**I wish I had better pictures of both Yawm Txiv and Pog, but the scanner is just 20 feet too far for me to walk to! :D, but do enjoy the ones I have.

The thing that makes me saddest is that she passed away 2 months before my wedding. I know she probably would have made fun of my hair, dress, or make up, but I know it's only because she loved me and I would have just loved to have her there. I know she would have had so much fun, especially since 2 of 3 of my Aunties were there. Also, I just really wish that she could have gotten to meet my babies. My sisters and I always have a blast guessing what nicknames she would have given our kids. Trust me when I say she would have named them something along the lines...."cry baby....burnt kitty...chubby"...all in Hmong of course. (When you say these names in Hmong...they're just a lot funnier and endearing. :)

I am so grateful to have had my Pog and Yawm Txiv be such a big part of my life. I am so lucky to have come from such wonderful, strong, honorable, and amazing people. :)

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing these wonderful memories. I've been thinking of the wonderfuly LEGACY our grandparents have left for us and will leave for us...makes me think of the future...what our own LEGACY will be for our kids, grandkids...i know we won't match our grandparents but hopefully at least half. I'll always remember your gram too...she was pretty hip although i was scared of her bc of the nicknames (hehehe) and her honesty...bc we know sometimes, the truth hurts but it was the reality....we liked the same things..elvis (that's why we loved sleepovers), MJ..., good memories of her preference for the Bird's singing. lol. thanks!