The first time that I saw Grandpa was in 1985, when I came to the United States and stayed with him in Los Angles for a week before the school started. I believe that his first impression of me was a disappointment. I got car sick every time we had to go out (believe or not, I got car sick even by riding on 马车或牛车 when I was small. I finally got over the motion sickness by driving and travelling extensively later on). Grandpa believed that I would not fulfill his dream of getting my whole family here to the United States if I got car sick so easily. I have to confess I have not fulfilled his dream yet even after getting over the weakness of motion sickness.
My father was Grandpa’s first born. Being rebellious, father joined 志愿军and went to the Korean War without realizing that he would not see his father again for almost 40 years. Grandpa lost his faith in the Communist party after losing his factory and home to the Communist Government in1957 and left Shanghai secretly. He gradually smuggled Grandma and four of his six children to Hong Kong. My father, who wanted to make his own career by following the Communist Party, stayed behind and settled in a small 农垦建设兵团连队near the border of Soviet Union in Heilongjiang Province.
After reconnecting with my father after 1976, and the failed attempt to immigrate my entire family to the United States, Grandpa offered to sponsor one of father’s children to U.S. to study. I was the lucky one and the only one that got a chance to know Grandpa and being pampered by Grandpa.
In order to help me to transit into the new environment easily, Grandpa put me into a dorm near the campus, International Center (I-Center), which is the housing facility for international students from all over the world. I was fortunate to spent about 2 and half years there, getting to know students from all over the world, Germen, English, Denmark, Indian, Greek, Irish, French, Saudi Arabian, Syrian, African, Indonesian, Malaysian, etc.; working in the Cafeteria there and learning from different cultures. I decided to move out to save money for Grandpa. Grandpa first refused, Aunt had to intervene to have him relent.
He requested me to write him a letter, once a month, in English. He would write me back in English and return my original letter with his edits/corrections in red. At that time, he was in his late seventies and was taking care of my bedridden Grandma full time. It often took several days for Grandpa to write me a letter; nevertheless, he never stopped writing to me till I get married in the early 90’s.
He subscribed Reader’s Digest for me for my entire college years and I am still subscribing to it since I enjoy the stories and jokes so much. Every time I read the Reader’s Digest, I felt Grandpa’s presence and immense love for me.
I went to stay with him the first winter break, he took out an old typewriter and demonstrated the typing and instructed me to learn. Seeing Grandpa’s flying fingers over the typewriter, I gave it a try. I could not even push a key down without using my mighty strength. Do not want to disappoint Grandpa, I kept on trying. Luckily the Winter Break was only two weeks, and I got to work in my Uncle’s drugstore for most of the time. Otherwise, I could not imagine how I can master the typing skill with the Grandpa- style type writer. I was able to find a discarded typewriter in one of the closets in I-Center. Therefore, for the next several months, I was able to master the typing skill by practicing in my scarcely spare time.
Grandpa was very frugal throughout his life. He made lots and lost a lot of money in stock market and business. However, the first ever lost he had hard time to swallow was the first airline ticket he purchased for me in 1984. I scored about 385 in my first attempt at TOEFL in 1983 and get an I-20 from a Community College in LA. However, I was not fortunate enough to get the VISA in 1984. Grandpa, in his eagerness to get me to the U.S., purchased the airline ticket before I went to the American Consulate in Beijing. Grandpa had to forfeit the airline ticket after I was rejected. He was heartbroken over the loss.
Grandpa never bought anything without comparing prices over at least three stores. He would clip coupons and take busses to visit different stores and make his final decision to buy. He would even buy my daily necessities when he determined it was a good buy. Unfortunately, I did not learn this good money saving habit. Lately, I always felt that I was too busy to pay too much attention to prices. I am sorry Grandpa.
Grandpa strongly objected me learning to drive too soon. He wrote me the cons of owning a car: have to buy insurance, have to pay for parking, he described the roadside parking meter as:”吃角子的老虎机“. However, after hearing that I got an intern opportunity in Palo Alto and needed a car to commute, he wrote a check for me to purchase my first car.
With his immense love and support, I was able to graduate without much hardship; I had the opportunity to live in an international housing facility to know students from all over the world; I was able to achieve what I have today. Grandpa left us at the age of 94, but his love and generosity will stay with me forever.