Grandmother B had a shrine with Chinese characters in it. I had no idea what she was praying to, I only knew that this meant something to her.
When Grandmother H passed away, we had to light incense for her. Two sticks, red wood at the ends, goldenrod incense on the rest of the stick. My mother said to me “Even if you speak in English, she’ll understand you.”
I can speak Khmer fluently, yet I have trouble speaking to my grandmothers aloud in any language. It takes a measure of courage, with family members around, to attempt to speak my love and truth to my grandmothers. I worry that I may sound less sincere, and so I am silent. I only hope that the propriety of the way that I kneel when I pray to them, and touch my heads to the ground three times, can convey the depth of my feeling.
It is difficult to know that my actions do not always seem to coincide with the piety that I attempt to show. It is there, deep within me, and feeds my actions, even when they do not seem to.
Someday, I believe that my family will understand that path that I have taken. It is not the path that they set forth for me, but it is a path that I have been able to take because of them, their love, their support, their stories.
Each action I take, story I share, poem that I read aloud, is connected to them. It is the best way that I know how to pay tribute.