Grandfather Ng's Grave


I remember mourning Grandfather.  We cried at the stairs outside our apartment in Kowloon when we received the news that he had passed away in New Jersey.  It was on May 8th, 1961.  I was seven years old.  What could I know about the loss of a grandfather whom I only knew through the delicious care packages that he had sent us – sweet dried California fruits, Fig Newtons, and American dolls for my sister and me?  How could I fathom my father’s grief, at the loss of his father whom he knew only through his letters and the life-sustaining remittance he had sent us? Father was born in 1916.  Grandfather had left his pregnant wife in Toishan, went to the U.S. with great-grandfather, and never returned.  Through remittances, father was able to attend private school and earn a degree in business from St. John’s University in Shanghai.  When father asked grandfather if he should come to the U.S., he discouraged emigrating and said that the discrimination against the Chinese at the time would make it very difficult for an educated Chinese man to find work in his profession. The Hart-Cellar Act of 1965 abolished the quota system and established a new policy based on reuniting families and attracting skilled labor.  Ironically, my father’s education qualified him as “skilled labor” to immigrate to the U.S. It was 1966 when we finally saw our grandfather's grave. Filial piety is the first commandment in Chinese culture.  How do we give back to our grandfather after three generations of separation?

Place(s): New Jersey, Shanghai, Kowloon
Year: 1966

– Camilla Ng, OCAW/OCA/1882 Foundation

Relationship:  Im/migrant who arrived as a child Im/migrant who arrived as a child