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Los Angeles, CA, United States


Sunday, August 14, 2011

Driving down Memory Lane

I stay pretty close to my parents and we talk and see each other all the time.  As my dad gets older, he's become more of a daredevil while driving and one of those guys that I would curse if I was driving behind.  Consequently, I will invite my folks on my errand runs and drive by any places they need to go.  It keeps Dad off the streets and I enjoy the company.

So yesterday, we get invited to a bbq at my brother's place in Irvine.  My dad gets tired in the afternoon and driving is tough on him.  I was working all day on one of those Honey-Do's except this honey-do is a long term project that takes all day and several weekends.  In short, I was beat.  The wife was also tired and didn't feel like making the hour drive down there.  Unfortunately, I felt some guilt when I thought of declining the offer.  Not because of not going to see my bro and my cousins etc. but because my dad would end up having to drive in traffic on a saturday night.  So what's a good son to do? Yeah, I bit the bullet, showered up, kissed the wife good bye and picked up my parents.

In the car, my fatigue faded away as we talked about family, friends, and what's going on.  It's during these times that the fast lane becomes memory lane as either mom or dad become lucid and start talking about their childhood.  It's fascinating to hear the stories about my uncle that contracted TB but served in some puppet Army set up by the Japanese provincial government during their occupation of China during WWII.  Or how dad knew a Chinese wiseguy and was good friends with him until he was murdered.  Dad's association could have lead to our family being the Chinese version of the Sopranos.  I wonder what our TV series would be called, "The Gangster Huangster".  Thank goodness that didn't come to fruition.  My dad is too sensitive to be a gangster anyway. 

As dad gets older, I hear more stories of his childhood growing up in China, the difficulties and horrors of living in a country occupied by a foreign enemy.  The lack of education that resulted as he and his brothers struggled to survive while moving around southern China to avoid the bombings of their hometown. 

It's these times that allow me to delve deeper into their memory banks and get a better understanding of what it's was like back in the day.  Consequently, I become more appreciative of my own life and how easy a time I've had while gaining a newfound perspective on the moments that shaped both mom and dad's lives.

So if you're still lucky to have your parents around, take a drive with them.  You may just take a detour down memory lane and learn something.


  1. That is one of the blessings of still having our parents around. They seem to love telling us stories of the old days, and we seem to appreciate hearing them more.

    I'm looking forward to visiting Cali this week and and spending time with my parents. We'll drive them to my dad's favorite lunch place, Canter's deli on Fairfax, and we'll take the side streets from ELA there, so my dad can reminisce about the city, and growing up during the depression with his brothers. His stories about L.A., how hard times were growing up, and surving those times, especially as Mexicans in L.A., are legendary.

    We're lucky my dad still has his mind and memory razor sharp at age 92. He remembers everything, including OLG days when were were kids, the parents, including your mom and dad. It's going to be a great visit!

  2. That is so cool Carlos. Tell your pops I said hi. I didnt go to this year's Noche Tropical but it was great to see pics of your dad there. I have fond memories of your dad including when I'd see him up at Bonnie Beach hoping he'd find me one of those prime summer jobs when we were teenagers.


  3. "Driving down Memory Lane" with you today made me think of my Grandma Pauline and Grandpa Joe and all the stories they shared with me. Stories of the depression and how my great-grandmother would make dresses for her daughters (my grandma) out of the printed flour sacks and how she only got one pair of new shoes a year and the trip to The First Street Store to buy them. Stories of how my grandpa stayed behind during WW II because he was working at a glass container factory that made the bottles blood was being shipped in. Grandpa retired from that company after 40+ years and he was so proud of his job. Countless family stories....
    I love sharing them with my own children. Thanks for sharing your own family stories and giving me the opportunity to think about some of mine!