Happy Birthday to my wonderful maternal grandfather...and by birthday, let's not leave out the most important part of that wish...
HAPPY 99th BIRTHDAY, GUNG-GUNG!!!
Gung-gung is what I call my grandfather in Chinese. Luis Li, Sr. is a man who was ophaned when he was still a single-digit age and raised by his older sisters. As a teenager, he immigrated to Mexico, then to Honduras, married my amazing grandmother (Lord, Lord, Lord is this woman amazing), raised NINE children, owned & ran a store in Honduras, immigrated w/the whole fam to Miami, and is just plain awesome. Now...take an orphan in China (at 6, I believe and raised by his older sisters until his teens) who moves to Mexico & Honduras...but factor in that he has to learn another language, starts business & family, takes care of a slew of extended family back in China, moves to the US, learns another language, and takes care of everyone still...and by everyone, I mean family here and abroad (distant relatives) financially.
He's just plain freakin' awesome. I'm so thankful for all that he's (and my grandma) given us. He's helped basically every single child buy their homes. He's helped fund the grandkids' college funds (although since I'm the oldest, only my sister and I have graduated college...with 5 more in college this year and several younger cousins). We're all pretty lucky to have the lives that we have now because of the hardwork and dedication of this man (and his wife).
He's lived an amazing life...just one year shy of a century...but what a crazy life it has been. In addition to what I already wrote, he's also spent loads of time in Hong Kong studying chefs there perfecting his cooking, suffered a debilitating stroke over a decade ago that left him paralyzed on the entire left side of his body and wheelchair-bound. That paralysis was something that killed his passion...cooking and taking long a$$ walks when he was annoyed with my grandmother. I can only feel for him as I watch him these days wheel himself over to the kitchen watching everyone cook and wonder what goes on in his mind. He's a very quiet man...verrrrrry quiet. Never complains and barely speaks. But yet, you know what he's thinking and definitely takes everything in. Even though this is a post about my grandfather, big, BIG props have to go to my grandmother (Po-po) for doing everything an 80-something year old should not be doing...ie. taking care of the house, my grandfather...doing things a nurse or person half her age should be doing...even with arthritic joints.
My grandparents have lots of things to teach my kids. I hope that they'll learn to be good people by learning directly and indirectly from their great-grandparents.
Oh, if you're wondering why I'm wishing him birthday wishes in Spanish...it's because girl ain't know a lick of Chinese (at least my maternal side of the family's dialect)! Booooooooooooo. So, the main way to communicate with him is in Spanish.
Happy Birthday, Gung-gung. Thank you for all you have done to make our lives better, easier, and richer. 99 never looked so good!!!
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