My grandfather passed through the Golden Gate — where the Golden Gate Bridge would later be constructed — in October 1903. He was on a ship from Japan that had stopped in Honolulu. The ship’s manifest notes that he was none of the following: an anarchist, a polygamist or a cripple.
My grandfather arrived in the time between the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and the Immigration Act of 1924 (which included the Asian Exclusion Act and the National Origins Act). By 1924 the U.S. government had completely blocked the immigration of people it deemed undesirable including Asians, Arabs, people with disabilities, formerly incarcerated people, people with a history of physical or mental health issues, and the poor — along.... Read More
Within my big family, I always viewed my 87-year-old great grandmother and my 94-year-old great grandfather as strong-willed individuals. They’re always so loving to their children and to us grandchildren.
Everything seemed to be fine until the reality of time gradually caught up with them. As they lived with my 64-year-old grandmother throughout much of their lives, they’ve become more dependent on her over time.
My great grandfather has gradually lost his ability to walk and has developed a case of dementia. Also, my great grandmother has a harder time carrying out her daily routine due to her old age. Given that my grandmother worked.... Read More
We most often hear the phrase “Until Death Do Us Part” at weddings, when a couple commits to fidelity and love for one another until one of them dies. The traditional wedding vows say nothing about what accompanying someone to death involves. And the vast majority of us have no training in what the dying process involves and what is required to sit with a loved one as they are dying.
My mom died in December at age 95. In reflecting on the end of her life, “until death do us part” is the phrase that keeps coming to mind. I think our bonds to parents and family are as deep as any marriage vow, and they span more of.... Read More
This Hispanic Heritage Month, Let’s Rejoice in the Beauty of our Culture
by Bianca Perez. This post originally appeared on the NHCOA blog.
Celebrating Latino heritage means rejoicing in our culture and its differences, commemorating our traditions, and applauding our accomplishments. It means feeling proud of our background and exposing others to the beauty that surrounds our lives. For many Latinos who have migrated to the United States, Latino Heritage Month is a way to maintain our connection with our roots and to showcase the beauty that makes up our Latino culture. For those who were born here it is a way to keep the memories of our ancestors alive and to explore the depths of our heritage.
Older adults — our abuelitos and abuelitas or, for some, our parents — are the ones.... Read More
The Power of Generations, Part II: Legacies Across Time
Living in a four-generation family allows me to experience the waxing and waning of life. From my perspective as Obaasan (grandmother), I can observe our family’s generational inhaling and exhaling — a rising and falling that feels like a force of Nature.
Waxing/Enlarging My grandson is learning to wave at people. His hands go up and bend at the wrist in a whole hand greeting. He also greets trees, the sky, and the mobiles hanging in his room. His waving has recently become beckoning – as in “let’s go closer,” “please bring that to me,” “I want that!” In this way he draws more of the world toward.... Read More
The Power of Generations, Part I: Grandchildren & Grandparents
I am carrying my eight-month old grandson around the house, trying to help him let go and go to sleep. As I chant “Ne-ne Ko-ko, Ne-ne Ko-ko, Ne-ne Ko-ko, Yoh-oh” (sleep baby, sleep baby) over and over, I remember my grandmother carrying me on her back before my afternoon nap, chanting the same thing. I can almost feel myself in both roles at the same time – grandchild, grandparent. A special magnetism helps span these generational roles.
Just Enough Distance While my relationships with son, daughter and elderly mother are very active and dominated by the present, when I interact with my grandson and my granddaughter I’m often thinking about my past and their future. I am remembering my.... Read More
Memories of my maternal grandma will always be with me. We called her “Ma’sani’ “(translated from my language it means — “Elder Mother.”) Our tribe is matrilineal so my four clans come to me through the female lineage of my parents ancestors. When I was a child I remember traveling to the deep frontier country in the back of our pickup truck to visit Grandma. The roads were dirt – not paved. The air was fresh and my hair would blow wild in the breeze. I was so excited because we were going to grandma’s house. My maternal grandmother lived about 35 miles off the main roadway. On rainy days the dirt roads were hard to maneuver because of the.... Read More
Honoring the Families’ Treasures: Our Grandparents
In just a few short decades, one in five U.S. residents will be an older adult. This is an incredible demographic shift for U.S. society and it has implications for every aspect of U.S. life. As advocates for, and experts of, the senior community, we discuss a lot of those implications. We talk about needed services for our nation’s seniors and the current lack of quality, affordable, senior appropriate housing stock. We talk about the unacceptable levels of hunger among U.S. seniors and lack of access to transportation and quality medical care. We talk about the importance of educating a slimming workforce so that our elders can be supported and the critical importance of Social Security and Medicare. And for.... Read More
Golden Girls: Growing Old, Growing Up, and Growing Asian American
Today marks the 30th anniversary of the debut of “The Golden Girls” on NBC. From modest beginnings, the show would become a huge success, garnering top ratings for NBC and accolades for the show, its cast, and crew. But more importantly, from a cultural perspective, it has had a much larger impact. As the first network broadcast show to focus on older women, The Golden Girls changed the way we looked at them and broke many stereotypes. From water cooler chatter to professionally refereed academic journals, much has been made of what their groundbreaking portrayals mean for how we understand women and aging.
Sunday, September 13th is Grandparents Day, and at the Diverse Elders Coalition, we are so grateful for our grandparents: whether you say grandmother, grandfather, abuela, abuelo, oba-chan, ojisan, lola, lolo, yeay, taa, tutu, halmoni, halapoji, bibi, babu, awa, tata, pog, yawg, yéyé, nǎinai, or another term of endearment, the elders in our lives have served as role models, supporters and caregivers.
Grandparents are more than just pinched cheeks and comfort food, though. The grandparents in our lives can be a valuable resource as we figure out how to make the world a better place. I love this quote from Janet Mock’s book Redefining Realness, in which she talks about the struggles her relatives have faced, and the role.... Read More