Did you ever go into a casino and watch as somebody pulled a one armed bandit, and hundreds of coins come out all over the floor, and everyone gets very excited and screams and dances about a bit? No, neither did I, but I have seen it on film.
Family, friends, strangers are asking how do I feel. I can’t quite put it into words, but it’s a bit like I hit the family jackpot. But I’m being restrained and only screaming and dancing around in private at the moment!
At Chinese New Year, which is all about families, the family gathers in a favourite restaurant usually just before the big 3 days. My family brought the reunion dinner forward, I got dressed up accordingly, was a little overdressed I think. But nobody seemed to mind.
I am ‘moy moy’ little sister. And they treat me like a small little sister, holding my hand, helping me with everything, putting food on my plate, hugging and hugging me. They keep telling me they can’t believe it. My brother’s wife said she thought my brother was playing a big joke on her this morning when she found out. My nephew, when Winnie sent him the news articles, said he fell off his chair to read his Grandmother’s and his Father’s names in the press.
They laughed at mine and Winnie’s poster posting antics – ‘That’s how we find lost dogs’ they said. And my 2nd biggest sister walks past where we put the posters up and didn’t see them! It turns out that Winnie and my sister in law exhibited art together in the 1980s! Such a small world.
Over our celebration dinner we talked of many things. I heard more stories about my Mother, we worked out who in the family had inherited what from whom. I’m told I have my Mother’s hair, skin, lower face features. And I’m smart like she was! Several in the family have totally flat feet. Everyone at dinner is looking at each other to see what bits we share and what bits must have come from our Fathers.
Between us there are fluent English speakers (my nephew Tim and sister in law Willa, some who speak a little Mandarin, and my siblings all have a smattering of English. Generally most of the conversation is in Cantonese, unless someone is talking to me! My brother’s English is actually probably better than he is letting on I think. And Winnie, is always beside me to help out when I get stuck.
I keep a notepad to hand, because I’m trying to keep up with all the people that are mentioned in conversation. My niece Suui is there, as is my nephew Tim. He has a 6 year old son Jarvis. After a while I give up trying to keep up with it all, as I need to eat the delicious reunion dinner. So family promise they will draw me a family tree, roots and all.
I don’t imagine there will ever be another day quite like this one. We are hoping to all be reunited again, with my youngest sister who is in Japan, and perhaps if we’re very lucky, the brother who was adopted within Hong Kong. My Chinese New Year has all been arranged, and it begins on Friday with a visit to pay respects to our Mother So Kam Lai.
I don’t believe in life after death. But something tells me if my Mother were to see us all tonight, she would be dancing and screaming in delight.
In the picture above (more for my benefit than yours)
L to R. Willa Wong, sister in law, Suui Li, niece, Daisy Wong, eldest sister, me, Andy Wong, big brother, Amy Wong, elder sister, Tim, Wong nephew.