I met my grandmother for the first and only time when I was 6 years old. We were living in New Orleans, she was living in Vietnam. She made the long journey to the US to visit all of her children over the span of 4 months. (She had 8 of them, my mom being the youngest.)
In the two weeks that she stayed with us, we spoke very little to one another. Though I could understand Vietnamese, I wasn't able to formulate sentences in Vietnamese. I found myself understanding her question, then running to my older brother or mom to ask them how to translate what I wanted to say. Then I would run back to tell her my response.
Exhausted from the attempts to verbally communicate, I found myself looking around for something to say. Then, I pointed to the knitting needles poking out from the top of her bag.
She spent that night with me, sitting on our guest bed, teaching me how to knit. Together, we knitted a purse. (The first purse I ever made.) A small square fuchsia bag with a long strap and button closure. I carried my sketch pad and colored pencils in that bag. The next day, my mom taught me how to sew a fabric lining inside my bag so my pencils wouldn't fall through the holes.
In those weeks, I knitted and sewed many more bags in various shapes and colors and proudly presented my accomplishments to my mom and grandmother.
20 years later, the small seed planted by my grandmother has grown to become my career.
While our time together was short-lived, her influence was great.
She lived 96 wonderfully fulfilling years.
She is survived by her 8 loving children, 17 grand children, and 14 great grand children.