While doing the previous post, I wrote about wanting to visit China and see where my grandfather grew up. It did make it sound as if my grandfather is Chinese. He is not. My grandfather was born in California in 1913, the oldest of 6 children. His parents were Episcopalian missionaries (one of my great uncles is now an Episcopalian bishop). By the time my grandfather was 6 months old, they were off for one of their 'teaching tenures' in China. My great-grandfather taught biological science at the American school in Shanghai as well as ministering to the local village. My grandfather and his brothers spent their days climbing trees and bamboo, riding bikes, floating in the river and general mischief. Other missionary families in the area would warn newcomers to "watch out for those March boys". Between the ages of 6 months and 16, my grandfather spent more time in China than in the states. They did have sabbaticals back to America periodically. Someone told me it was like a debriefing. I remember my grandfather telling me was how the communist propaganda started coming over the radio, as that government began. He said it was one of the reason they knew it was time to go back to America, they could tell things were changing. During WWII the home they had lived in was destroyed. When I was a child, my grandparents would host students from China who were going to Berkeley. I would go with them to craft fairs and picked up many unique items from China. My grandfather and my granny went back to China in the early 80's, when tourism was still fairly new. They were able to go to the area where the house stood, and find one of the trees that he climbed. They took many pictures and had a wonderful experience. It was the last trip they took together before my granny died.
I wish I knew more about the time he spent there. By the time I became interested in tai chi and Chinese teachings, my grandfather had developed dementia and was not always able to put together dates and facts. Interestingly, as his dementia deepens and his memories blend, he often starts to say words in Chinese, left over memories long forgotten from childhood.
I want to go to China, to explore the country where he spent much of his childhood. I would like to learn to speak Chinese. I would like to deepen my knowledge of tai chi and chi kung. I feel a connection with China, not just because of tai chi, but because I feel that my family history is there as well.