Old Pictures of Grandma

Relationship: Child of im/migrant
Louisa and her children at the Bronx Zoo
Louisa and her children at the Bronx Zoo

For me, my grandma represents perseverance.  As a girl, she survived the bombing of Hong Kong. She grew up in comfort but gave birth to my dad at 16 – a scandal in 1951. At 20, she and her husband sought to move to America. By then, they’d had a daughter. They waited a year in Hawaii for the Chinese quota to reopen.  In Brooklyn, Louisa was young and vibrant. She loved American music and culture and wore her hair in the latest fashion. She worked at a beauty salon and pursued a beautician’s license. Edward was stern. He had a degree but worked at a hand laundry. He didn’t speak English but understood discrimination. He felt embracing American culture would erode their identity. Louisa got her license, but Edward got sick. He had throat cancer that spread to his lungs. At 26, Louisa was a single mom with two children in a foreign country. She remarried a year later. Don was a domineering man who carried strong social views and a gun. He made Louisa quit her job at the salon. At dinner, he served himself. Louisa made sure her children ate. Their life was stable. Louisa saw her children grow up. She was joyous to have grandchildren. She considered leaving Don before she was diagnosed with stomach cancer. Still, she was optimistic and focused on her family. She passed away at 61. My grandma endured great grief and loss in her life, but she found happiness in her children. Her actions shaped her family’s future more than anyone else. She may not have found the better life she sought, but she gave it to her family – which was all she'd wanted from the start.

Place(s): Hong Kong, New York
Year: 1954

– Chris W.

Relationship:  Child of im/migrant Child of im/migrant