Nana, The Reverse Pickpocketer

Dear Blue,

As parents, it’s our job to connect with your roots. And boy, do you have interesting roots. There are plenty of places to begin, but I figure the best place to start is probably the place it started with us. With our parents. Your grandparents.

Let’s start with your nana. Your mom’s mom. As we prepare to bring you into this world, your nana has made it her personal mission to keep your mom’s stomach perpetually filled with food at all hours of the day and night. Whenever we visit, we come back with a stack of takeaway boxes, lining up on each other in our refrigerator like Styrofoam pagodas. Not only that, but our haul also includes fresh tomatoes picked from your nana’s garden, persimmons and a loaf of bread she makes in her own bread maker. It’s a bounty.

Beyond that, your nana and your mother play this cute little game every week. When we visit, your nana likes to take money and sneak them into your mother’s pockets. Your mother has good kung fu moves, though, even 5 months pregnant, and frequently evades and blocks your nana from reverse pickpocketing. When your nana is spurned, she turns to me and tries the same thing.

This past weekend, your mother successfully chop blocked your nana not once, not twice, but three times. Each time, your nana turned to me, with a sympathetic plea in her eyes, and then tried to stuff the cash in my pocket. I am not as good at kung fu, so I just ran.

I don’t know why we play this game. I guess it’s because our parents have done so much for us, that maybe we feel like a burden if they keep doing things. You’ll understand some day. It’s important for grown ups to feel independent, and so…kung fu and running. That’s why we play the game.

So, with your mom vigilant and me evasive, your nana pulled up the white flag, slipping the cash back into her own pocket. This time, we were the winners of the game. We spent the day there, helping your gonggong pack for his trip to Malaysia.

A nana’s love, if it can be defined and contained within one word, is persistent. It keeps pressing forward like a hydraulic pump, never giving in to anything else until it accomplishes what it set out to do. Your nana is a very gentle, very kind soul, but never mistake that for anything remotely related to weakness. Her love is fiercely unrelenting, and when we tell about your roots, know that this is a part of you, too.

When we left the house, we packed up our car and hugged everyone goodbye. Secretly, your mother and I were both pleased that we had won the game without any more struggle. It never occurred to us that we got by too easy. We were overconfident, proud, and in the end, we never saw it coming. Your nana gave us some vegetables in a paper bag, and then, nearly clipping my shoulder in a rushed movement, she closed the screen door and locked the bolt in place.

She smiled slyly. “I put money in your purse when you weren’t looking.”

Your mother and I exchange shocked looks, and after putting up a token display of refusal, we know we have lost. We hang our heads in defeat, pocketing the cash.

Game. Set. Nana.