[Bear with me as I try to catch up with all the video I've been taking. I was going to try and put in the rest of the visit from my last blog about my grandfather from my dinner on April 28th, but I'm really getting behind on all this video so I thought I'd start from the first video dinner that I took on December 30th, 2009. I had videoed my grandparents at Christmas, but this was the first real dinner for my project. I'll have to put the Christmas video content in as a special edition later, I suppose. I also took some screen shots of some of the video to add here, so that's why the pictures aren't all that great.]
My grandfather had made tomato beef chow mein for me that night, my favorite childhood dish, and the first one I really learned how to say in Chinese: fankur gnow yok chow mein. I'm sure I butchered the phonetic spelling.
I taped my grandfather doing the finishing touches to the vegetables, beef, and sauce before pouring it over the noodles. Watching it tonight makes me smile.
My grandmother asked me how my day was, as she heated up water for tea in the microwave. She asked me about traffic, and I explained that I took the train. She seemed amazed that I took the train, looked at me in the camera view, as if I were a baby standing up for the first time.
It makes me sad that this was only four and a half months ago, and my grandmother seems so much more cognizant, despite her being surprised that I'm able to take public transportation to San Francisco.
I set up the video camera after dinner. My grandfather put his arm around my grandmother, as if to pose for a photo with her. It reminded me of all the times that I'd seen my grandfather taking my grandmother's hand to hold, even when sitting in the back seat of the car when my parents were driving. He'd always support her when walking, especially down stairs, to make sure she didn't fall. But, this posing, like the hand holding in the car, was purely a gesture of love and affection, despite their many years together filled with my grandmother's berating. Everything was and still is always my grandfather's fault, and he still takes it in stride, time and again, with a big smile and at most, a huffy sigh.
"Oh, it's recording," I explained. "It's not a picture."
"You don't have to smile!" my grandmother scolded him.
"Mom told me to ask about your camping trips. She said you used to go camping a lot," I said.
"Oh yeah," my grandmother replied. Her brow furrowed as she asked my grandfather, "Who did we go camping with?" This has become much more frequent, my grandmother asking my grandfather for the answer in regards to remembering something. I try to get her to try and remember herself, but this is often her response also when I ask her what she did during the day.
My grandparents looked at each other and paused, and my grandmother laughed, "Ha ha! Can't remember."
My mother had told me there was a "Gelusil" camping trip incident, so I tried to prompt them with that story. It's one of their favorite stories to tell. Gelusil is a milky white liquid antacid that my grandfather used to take for his ulcer.
"Oh, you mean... yeah, it happened on the way to a camping trip. You know Dale? Kaye's oldest son?" my grandmother said.
My Uncle Kaye was one of my grandfather's brothers.
"He passed away, from cancer, young... Well, he was sitting in the front seat, with him," she continued, already starting to laugh, gesturing to my grandfather. "Dale sat in the middle." My grandfather's eyes were lighting up and a big grin was moving across his face.
"Ba is supposed to have Gelusil for his ulcer. So, somebody gave it to Ba and took the cap off for him. Ba didn't know the cap was off, and he started to shake up the bottle." They both motioned someone one shaking a bottle and both giggled. "And then the Gelusil went all over Dale!"
My grandfather tried to continue the story as my grandmother laughed, both of them reliving the pasty white liquid covering their nephew on a car trip. "I was driving and Dale said, 'You have to take your Gelusil.'"
"Dale was the one who gave it to him because he was sitting in the middle! He took the top off without telling him!" my grandmother chuckled.
"So I got it all over, got it on his neck, all over his head!" my grandfather said.
"He didn't say one word!" my grandmother continued.
"And he's sitting in the middle, where the shifter was. We were very crowded in the car, there were six of us!" said my grandfather, "And in the first place, he's not even supposed to sit there, in case the cops see us! Those days, they don't give that many tickets. Cops in those days helped you - they gave you warnings, very nice. Nowadays, every little thing they want to bring some money back! The captain thinks if you don't give out any tickets you're having coffee some place!"
"So, what happened after Dale was covered in Gelusil? Did you guys pull over?" I asked.
"No, we handed him some kleenex or something until we got to Yosemite," said my grandfather. "We camped out in a tent. And the girls, they got a good deal. They sleep in the station wagon. The boys sleep outside in a little tent. And Dale ran over everybody when we got there to get to the restroom to clean up!"
I asked what they liked to do on their camping trips.
"Well, the men did all the cooking," my grandmother said. "We went with Tillie and Keen and their two boys, and Kaye and Linnie and their three kids." Uncle Keen is another one of my grandfather's brothers. "We had a lot of fun. Tillie and I would sleep in the station wagon, and the boys would sleep in the tent."
"And then early in the morning, they'd yell, 'Coffee!'" my grandfather smiled.
"Yeah, we'd open the window a little bit and say, 'Coffee! Coffee!'" my grandmother chimed in.
It reminded me again of how much my grandfather takes care of my grandmother, and for so many years, even when they were young and there wasn't so much of a need. I pictured my grandfather as a young man, climbing out of the little tent on a brisk morning in Yosemite, rushing off to make hot coffee for the love of his life.