Yesterday, surrounded by his family, Chuck Chow passed away; a wonderfully peaceful end to a wonderfully full life.
My cousin has posted a beautiful post about Grandpa Chow capturing images and words that gives just a glimpse of the this silent, gentle and firm man.
As with most grandchildren I only saw glimpses of that young feisty version of Grandpa that we heard about so often. Still, I revel in memories of stories told and passed along: his time as a mah jong pit boss, his work as a butcher at Centro Mart and the war stories he would tell – complete with rifle – fighting for the US in Okinawa.
My fondest memory of Grandpa Chow was when most of us traveled to China to visit the villages of my grandparents in 1992. The energy and enthusiasm that overtook him as we visited his kindergarten classroom, met school friends, interacted with family and stood with him as he was recognized at a school he helped to build was just too much fun. It was like we were transported back to when he left China decades before, this time with the son who had returned home.
Still, what I most remember is a gentle man, relaxed in his recliner sort of watching over and reveling in the bustling of his family: Gma Chow, his wife of over 60 years, his four kids, five grandchildren and three great grandchildren. That recliner, where he napped, hung out with Corey, his rice-eating lovebird and watched TV. Oh the simple and wonderful joys of life.
He was a man of few words, but would get giddy over Chinese soaps, technology and this crazy family that would invade his home whenever we could. I can only imagine the pride that he felt about this family that, while spread out among professions and geography, were committed to being family and community for one another. For this gift I am forever grateful.
And now as we move into a time of mourning and remembrance I am again grateful for the traditions that he and my grandmother pass on to the next generations. Over the next month, we will all mourn, engage in cultural rituals and pay honor to this man who has touched so many. And, as the moments present themselves, we will celebrate and remember this man who lives on in our stories, our lives and in our family.
Lastly, I simply give thanks that my girls have known their great-grandparents in a way that so is so unique. What a gift.
We’ll miss you grandpa. Rest well and know that your family rests in the knowledge that you watch over us still.