by Melinda Gallo

Bad news

Living overseas has many advantages, but the greatest inconvenience is receiving bad news about loved ones. I received an email this morning that my grandmother had passed away yesterday afternoon. There's no other way for me to find out except by email or phone. I'm happy it was an email where I felt that I could react naturally without trying to hold myself together on the phone.

My grandmother, who was my mother's mother, was born in Montana in 1908. She was the 9th child (out of 13. Her father was a Chinese immigrant who came to the US to serach for gold (and never found any) and then met his Chinese-American bride (who was born in San Francisco). They moved to Missoula, Montana (before it became a state) where they had a farm. They all grew up in Montana, but one-by-one moved to other parts of the US, and mostly to California.

Dave and I went to her 96th birthday in Sacramento last August and I had a feeling it might be the last time we see each other especially since we were planning our trip to Italy in the next few months. We took her out of the retirement home and drove her to a Chinese restaurant. She was so happy to eat her favorite dishes with all of us.

The Chinese say that tragedies happen in three's and I guess my stint of tragedies has finally finished. My mom, my dad, and my grandmother. The last of my elders. It is an odd feeling knowing that I truly am the oldest generation of my family. My parents and my grandparents have now all passed away. I feel like I'm young to not have any elders, but I guess we don't get to pick and choose what happens to us.

I sat in Piazza Santa Croce for a short while looking up at the church and watching all the people walk past me. I was wondering about life and ultimately death. I don't know if my deep sadness about death means that I don't accept it or if I'm just sensitive. Maybe I love life too much that death feels like punishment in some odd way. Even though it is a natural part of life, it feels so unnatural to me.

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