I want to tell you about your great granddaughter, Cayden Elle. Part of her Chinese name comes from MaMa, your beloved wife -Phong Yee, Phong meaning Phoenix., symbolizing new life rising from the ashes, a rebirth of our family lineage. Last Father’s Day, she was 6 months old, too young yet for her personality to show.
Phong Yee is now 18 months and, on this Father’s Day she is with her father, your grandson Matthew, and her mother’s whole family on a cruise around the British Isles. She looks a lot like our side of the family, especially the eyes. And, now at 18 months, she is a happy joyful little girl. She started walking around 10 or 11 months, and two weeks after she began, she was dribbling a soccer ball. Like her father, she is very athletically inclined and not afraid to try anything that is physical, i.e., climbing, running, jumping, etc. At even an earlier age, she showed signs of advanced eye-hand coordination and was able to pick up objects with her fingers around 8-9 months. She says a few words, BaBa, Ma for her mother, MahMah for me, GooGoo for Jennifer. Most of all, she throws things and says, “Uh Oh!” She is a very determined little girl, very adaptable, and very observant. She loves to eat and knows exactly what she wants. She is very observant, mimicking our words and our behavior, so we all have to watch what we say and do around her. She is such a joy to be around, so when she cries, we know something is wrong. She is not one to whine or complain. The only thing is her impatience especially when she’s hungry. Otherwise, she is laughing, smiling, and talking all the time. You will be pleased to know that her mother, her other grandparents, and I speak to her in Cantonese. She holds conversations by herself all the time. While we have no idea what she’s saying, the intonations sound like complete sentences. It wouldn’t surprise me if she just started speaking in fully formed sentences soon.
BaBa. I know you would be so proud of her, as I am. My friends tell she looks like me when I was little. I don’t know yet if she is artistic; however, as I mentioned before, she is very advanced with her eye-hand coordination. So, I am hopeful she will have some of your innate gift, as well as MaMa’s for art and music. BaBa you would also be so proud of Matthew. I see it when he looks at her, his love for her shining through the softening in his smile. He is a good father and, in conjunction with his loving care of her, he is also teaching her to be brave and fearless. She will need these traits in the coming years. I hope that she will have the sense of adventure and willingness to take risks as you did when you were younger.
For me, I never knew how much I could love this little one, I who am not the most maternal of mothers. When I look into her eyes, I see you and through her, the continuation of our line. Of course, she doesn’t realize this yet, but she comes from a rich lineage of the Han Dynasty. Phong Yee has been a balm for me during my healing from cancer. She gives me hope for my future, but more particularly, for hers.
Thank you, BaBa, for the rich heritage you left me, my children, and now my grandchild. I know that you are watching over us wherever you are. I love you.
(I won’t be putting her picture here as her parents have asked that she not be on any public domains. However, most of our friends have been sent emails. If we’ve missed you, please let us know and we’ll send you some).