Jenny’s Family Visits Indianapolis Before Departing to China
My cousin Jenny was visiting Indianapolis with her family, and I trekked down to join them for a few days. On arriving, I met up with everyone at my parents’ house for dinner.
Jenny brought out a surprise for our grandma: a custom Coke can with her name on it! It’s part of their Share a Coke campaign, and this was something that employees were able to get customized at a recent work event. Jenny works for Coke, and will be moving with her family overseas to Shanghai for her job. They’re departing within the next few weeks, and wanted to visit since her position places her over there for the next three years.
The name “Po-Po” is more specifically a name, roughly translated to “grandma.” In Chinese, there are actually different names for grandma, depending on whether you are referring to a grandparent on your mother versus your father’s side.
Interestingly enough, though Jenny and I both call her grandma – Jenny uses the term “Po-Po” as Grandma Phoebe is her mother’s mother. But I refer to Grandma Phoebe as “Ma-Ma,” referencing her as my father’s mother. It’s nuanced, and the whole Chinese naming thing gets complicated at times.
After dinner, the kids broke out an early birthday cake (Grandma Phoebe turns 104 this year). It’s funny in that I recognized the cake immediately, as it came from Heidelberg Haus, on the South side of Indy.
My parents’ first house was in this part of the city, and nearly every birthday celebration growing up… we got a cake from this place. I have vague memories of the interior, and it’s easily been 30+ years since I’ve been in there… but I’d recognize one of their cakes anywhere.
I heard the kids got to go there earlier in the day, and I was (and still am a little) bummed I didn’t arrive early enough to join them. We don’t have a lot of traditions in our family, but when I stop to think about it… we’ve been getting cakes from this place for decades now.
Grandma Phoebe, all smiles for the cameras (and trust me, in my family… there were tons of cameras out).
I went back and forth a bit, hanging out with my dad and my Uncle Benny who were watching basketball in the family room… and hanging out with the Jung women in our dining room. It was really nice and relaxing catching up (though a surprising amount of the conversation centered around counterfeit items, and people successfully/unsuccessfully smuggling contraband in and out of China).
The following day, the cousins all got together for a lunch out together. It was a nice chance for just us to hang out together, on our own.
I will say though – sitting at a table with four other asian women who all had long hair (Stacey, Mary, Ellen, and Jenny)… and being the only guy who also had long, black hair… I was constantly expecting to be called “Miss” the whole time. We were like some kind of real-life optical illusion (it was kind of hilarious).
After lunch, we met up with our parents and headed over to Crown Hill Cemetery to visit Grandpa David and Uncle Jacky.
The small chapel, inside the mausoleum.
The family, gathering in front of Grandpa David and Uncle Jacky.
As is tradition, we all bowed three times together, as a way to show respect. I still mean to capture this on film one of these days, but there never seems to be a good way to go about it – as I’m always participating in the ritual with my family.
As it should be, I guess. But it’s something I’d like to share some day. Again, we don’t have very many traditions at all in our family, but this is one of them.
There was some construction happening at the main entrance to the mausoleum, and we ended up having to walk around to an entrance along the side. Walking back to the cars, I spotted Shane walking with the kids – and really liked the image.