Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Things which make me happy - Quality Time with Family

I didn't write about this earlier, because it hasn't really hit me yet.  Some of you know about my family relationship, that I had a rather unpleasant childhood, witnessing a loveless marriage, brother was rebellious, mom depressed, etc.  For years my dad felt that we were his burden.

I think last year I went to see an Australian psychic, who told my entire childhood story as if he had witnessed everything, and said it was time for me to bring my family back together.  Back then I was going through a very emotional period with my then boyfriend, and for the first time I shared that with my family.  Since then I became closer to my brother.

A few months ago, I thought of an idea and encouraged my brother to come back to HK for a visit, so that the whole family could spend time together - 6 years after his last visit.  On Saturday, when I was meeting up with my parents - something we do only once very few months - I messaged my brother and told him we were having dim sum, so that he could feel part of it.  That evening, I also posted a collage of the day, which moved my brother and led him to write a very very long and emotional email to us, explaining to us why he'd been quiet lately, and apologizing for causing so much sadness in the family for years when he was growing up.  I didn't reply to that email at first, because it was too heavy to once again bring back memories of my childhood.  Yet, to my surprise, my dad replied.  My dad - a very stubborn character who could not take any criticisms.  He actually replied and accepted responsibility for not properly treating my brother's ADHD (hyperactive disorder) when he was young because my brother as a kid didn't want to see the child psychologist after just one session.  I read the email and closed it, without really allowing myself to react to it.  I think my mind was trying to block out my emotions to protect me or something.  One day later, just an hour ago when I read my friend's facebook note about her visiting her grandmother anonymously since she had run away from home years ago, I wrote her an email trying to show her my support - which then turned into me sharing with her my experience with my family lately, the email and all that.  When writing about it, I started crying.  And I am crying again now as I write.  It is very emotional for me to write or think about my family because while each one of us is actually quite passionate and emotional as a person, all our lives we shared so little emotions towards our own family.  We were very reserved when it came to showing love for each other.  We cared a lot about each other but we showed it either through nagging or annoyance when the person wouldn't listen.  I think among the four of us, my mom was already the more expressive one - but she only became expressive when my brother and I became grown-ups and she was no longer depressed.  In my childhood, my mom was full of anger and sadness.

So here's a picture of me and my parents spending an afternoon together:
I took them to a quiet dim sum restaurant, then to Times Square to look for a duffel bag with heels for my dad to drag his clothes and tennis racquet to the tennis court (we couldn't find one) and ended up getting Mom a white, light, soft fleece jacket from North Face, and a cool looking fleece hoodie for Dad from Marks & Spencer.  We then shopped for some cookies and candies in Marks & Spencer, bought some ryebread for Mom in a Japanese bakery (my parents love bread), and finally I dragged (we were all tired from all the walking) them to Central to have a Holly Brown coffee.  My mom loves coffee.

It was a rare happy day we had together as a family, actually doing stuff we all enjoyed.  Normally it would be me going to their place for dinner and leaving after two hours to catch the shuttle bus back home (they live almost 2 hours away from me).

Perhaps we are all getting old.  We know that there won't be a lot of time left to spend together.  My dad is 77, my mom around 67.  It's about time to forget the unhappy past, and focus on spending happier times together in the present and near future.  And, showing our love and care.

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