I miss my Yai.
And judging by the sheer number of times Miles has asked me this week, “I go to Ohio?” I think he does too. Misses his Yai, I mean.
I was sitting in my office one morning, I can’t remember why exactly, and Miles came by to show me his little Ampelmännchen. Carol brought them back from Germany, and he’s obsessed with them. Red Stop Man and Green Go Guy. While he was standing there showing me his Ampelmännchen, he noticed a photo on my magnet board on the wall behind my desk.
He pointed to Yai and then I pointed to Yai. We both said “Yai”, referring to different people.
According to my mother, in Thai, Yai means maternal grandmother. Its what my sister and I called my mom’s mom. Its what my cousins called her too. Its what Miles calls my mom. Its what my cousins’ kids’ call my aunt. Miles calls my aunt Yai Au (she’s Na Au to me) and another aunt Yai Noi (She’s Na Noi to me). And my mom is Yai Mun to Mason and Briley (she’s Ba Mun to my cousins – the Na and Ba refer to younger sister vs older sister) Lots of Yai’s around.
I pulled the photo down from the wall and held it for him to see. And I lingered on it too. Its my favorite photo of them. Yai looks so happy. And so does my mom. It was a Thai celebration at the temple, I think. I wasn’t there, I know. I might have been in Korea. Stupid Army.
Trying to explain who each person was in the photo, and their relation to Miles and that they are both Yai probably confused him. See, I call my mom Yai now too, when talking with Miles.
Generations are funny things. The differences can be so so great, yet the similarity so apparent. I know that my Yai loved me, that my mom loved me. Miles knows that Yai, his Yai, loves him. He knows that I love him. And I’m reminded of something my mom shared with me almost ten years ago.
My grandmother was in the hospital. It was after her 4th stroke. I lived far away and I went home because they were going to take her off life support. And they were basically waiting for me to arrive to begin the process of dying. I was in Yai’s hospital room with my mom, and we were looking out the window. A gray day of course – Winter Ohio is always gray. Mom had her arms around my waist and her head on my shoulder and she said to me, “I never knew how much my mom loved me until I had you.”
I looked at that photo for just a moment longer. My son had already left the room. Seeing their smiles, remembering their smiles, and today, I really miss both of them. Miles and I will soon go to Ohio to see Yai (and Grandpa!).