Mother’s Day makes me think of a lot of women who have helped me raise my children – of course, my own mom and grandmother, the two women who raised me and whom I’ve talked a lot about on this blog – but also three specific other people. Here is my tiny tribute to them. Without you, my children’s lives would be much less complete, as you have impacted them – if not directly, then by your actions and advice and wisdom I have used throughout the years. Thank you. Happy Mother’s Day.
My cousin Emily, Aunt Karen, and cousin Diya
Me, my late JoJo, my cousin Diya, and my Aunt Karen
My Auntie Karen has always just been there. She met my uncle when they were teenagers and married not too long after. She is like a second mother to me – her daughter Jennifer and I are only one month apart in age. I have so many memories of shenanigans with my aunt – she used to drive a huge brown station wagon and Jennifer and I would delight in jumping from the back seat to the way back and forth again. She prepared – or, er, assisted the Easter Bunny baskets that greeted us after we stayed up way late waiting for any tell tale sign of the furry creature. That Easter Bunny always seemed to give us underwear, undershirts, candy, and toys. Smart bunny.
In all the ways one is grateful for their aunts, the one way I am incredibly grateful that I have never told her. She was the first “other” in our family – the first non-Chinese person in our family, and the growing pains I am sure she felt – coming into a family with my grandmother’s very traditional Chinese background as a teenager – well, I would not have blamed her if she bailed in five years – but she never did. She made it easier, I think, for Josh to join our family. For her struggles (which she never once voiced at all!), I am supremely grateful.
Aunt Tara with her niece, Sara
My Aunt Tara I did not meet until I was a surly, surly high schooler (what, me, surly? OMG yes). I met her for the first time when I was sixteen. She became the mother for my cousin, and as an adult, I marvel at her tenacity and patience. Today Lindsey saw a picture of Aunt Tara and said, “Hi Aunt Tara, you are my friend. I left my baby Dora at JoJo and Aunt Tara’s house, that is sad.” She always has a smile on her face, and is warm and welcoming. I’m sorry, Aunt Tara, for being such a jerk as a teenager and hopefully now (finally!) as adults we can continue to cultivate our relationship as fellow Yu women. She too was a trailblazer in my family, and in retrospect, I wish we could have been less stubborn and more welcoming. Hindsight is 20-20, etc. For never giving up on our insane and crazy ways, I am grateful and humbled. Thank you Aunt Tara.
Kathy, and Gary in the background.
Jera, Lindsey, Kathy, me, Matthew, Josh, and Gary
My first interaction with Kathy was on the evening of September 11th, 2001. Josh and I had just started dating (days before!) and when the World Trade Center fell, all communication from him had been lost. He walked up to Grand Central Station from his place on Williams Street downtown, and managed to call his mother to let her know he was okay, and to ask her to email or call me to pick him up in New Haven, and I did. I am a lucky person to have a great relationship with my in-laws – both Kathy and Gary have always treated me like I was one of their own children. One of my most poignant memories of Kathy is in the early morning hours of July 14, 2006 – the day of Matthew’s birth. She and Gary had been planning a leisurely trip up to Chicago, a couple of weeks before my due date, when in the first leg of their trip, Josh called them with the news of my induction. They drove pretty much non-stop from Atlanta to Chicago that day and arrived in Evanston at around 11pm or midnight the day before Matthew was born. Josh and Gary left for our apartment shortly thereafter, and for a few hours or so, as I labored, Kathy sat next to me and talked me through some of the hurtiest contractions. She and Josh both held a leg of mine and helped me bring Matthew into this world. She did the same when Lindsey came around as well. And as a parent does for their child, encouraged me academically, which is why I am now a third year doctoral student, and consider myself lucky to have Kathy as a mother-in-law, friend, and mentor. She is calm under pressure and is an amazing role model for our children. Thank you.