my mother called me tonight, told me my father had called her and told her that my grandfather passed away during the night around 3am (3pm our time). just today when i went to go get the car she was telling me how my grandfather was doing better and had been moved out of intensive care. but sometime during the night he finally stopped breathing.

i don't think i'm the only one in my family to say this, but i feel both relieved and guilty. my grandfather had been ailing for a while now, and when i saw him less than 2 years ago at the senior citizen home where he lived, he didn't remember me the first time, and when i saw him again before i left taiwan, he'd been sedated after a health scare. my parents have been going back to taiwan at least once every year to check up on him, and a close family friend takes care of him the rest of the time to make sure the assisted living staff are doing a good job. my grandfather held on to life for a long time, which is totally in character with the kind of person he was, that he wouldn't go without a fight. so i feel relieved that finally his struggle is over, yet at the same time guilty. maybe my father and my aunt feel it more than me since they are his children, but while we live our happy lives here in america, my grandfather was alone in taiwan, all of us (his family members) having moved away a long time ago. it wasn't entirely our fault, at times he was a difficult man to live with, but like all people, he had his moments.

what about grief-stricken? i think i mourned 2 years ago, the last time i saw my grandfather. his arms and legs had atrophied and he was confined to a wheelchair, just a shell of the man he used to be. in his prime, my grandfather was a large man with a loud voice, making his presence known where ever he went. i don't know any of my grandparents names but his i'll never forget. he was a learned man and made his fortune publishing books, yet also a man of action and could always be counted on to get things done, probably because he knew people in high places. he was old-school, and would say stuff to me that i didn't understand but i nodded my head anyway and pretended i did. he had a certain gravity about him and when you met him you could sense that here was somebody different from the rest. of us his family members, whether we want to or not, we forever live in the large shadow that he cast. after i left the senior citizen home i just broke down for a few seconds. i couldn't articulate what i was feeling but it felt like a part of me had died.

my father is going to have my grandfather cremated, his remains to stay in taiwan for now. sometime in the future, he's going to exhume my deceased grandmother (she passed away in 1979) and take both my grandparents back to northeastern china, where they'll be reburied in the yang family tomb. to the bitter end my grandfather was a staunch nationalist but for his final resting place he would've liked being back at home.

my mother told me to light an incense tonight. i don't know what it means but it's the least i can do for the man i knew as my grandfather.

i walked down to the cafe today to borrow the car, stripping off layers as i went on this warmish spring day. the people i met were like me, still dressed for winter, but here and there colorful flowers were poking out of the dirt. when i came back i went looking for a farewell present for an tao, a small coffee maker that doesn't require a disposable filter. i went to brooks and target but finally found what i was looking for at walgreens.

in the evening i went to a community garden meeting. i've been to similar meetings like this before, and i don't want to generalize the state of cambridge, but there's usually way too much talk and nothing ever gets done. we spent an hour just trying to figure out who should be the new treasurer and coordinator, trying to set clean-up dates, and determining if we should form a committee to formulate gardening rules and who should be on this committee. this is gardening! it's supposed to be fun! not bureaucracy and legislation and debating! there was talk to cut down a mulberry tree, the same mulberry tree where i have my little garden plot. a sheet went around where people could vote: i was the only one against cutting down the tree. seems sort of ironic for a gardening community to want to chop down a tree. apparently besides providing too much shade, every year for 3 weeks the tree produces an abundance of mulberries. a woman who lived next to the garden and wanted to sign up for a plot this year was the strongest proponent of the tree cutting, saying that the berries stain her house, attracting rodents (squirrels?), making it unsafe for her children to play, and the roots are running into her property. the way i see it, the tree just as much a right to live, and besides a source of oxygen, its mulberries provide food for birds and other animals. sure, i don't get as much sun as some of the other plots, but i don't mind. with the meeting almost over and still plenty of bullet points to go over, we quickly glossed over the items with a promise for another meeting in june. one interesting thing i didn't realize is the amount of vandalism and theft that occurs. people have had vegetables taken and flowers cut, some have found used condoms in the gardens, and one plot was even used as a public toilet (no.2, y'all).

after the meeting i came home, the weather suddenly cold for some reason. fortunately it was just a short walk, and made me think of the saps running in the sugar maples, how these warm days and cold nights will give us the maple syrup we so dearly love.