Poor Man's Pillow


My maternal grandfather, or Goong Goong, was the hardest working man I knew.  He worked arduously his entire life – mostly in the restaurant business.  When I knew him, he was already in his mid-seventies…and in his creaky gait, old bones and weathered look, bore witness to a lifetime’s accumulation of daily toil and struggle.  Mom gave me his pillow.  I was moved.  This pillow was what my Goong Goong rested his head on when he took a nap during his long days at the family-run carryout.  On the stairway leading up to the storage room was affixed a wooden plank, maybe half the width of the stairs – just wide enough to fit one sideways-laying-smallish human.  Cardboard softened the surface. Vacant any frills or fluff, the pillow propped his head up as he lay on his side….allowing Goong Goong to rest.      

Place(s): Washington DC

– Tom Fong, DC Chinatown Community Advocate

Relationship:  Grandchild of im/migrant Grandchild of im/migrant