Friday, July 10, 2015

Goodbye, Yeh-Yeh

Allen Mah
June 13, 1925-July 6, 2015

My Yeh-Yeh (paternal grandfather) lived a hard-working life, achieving the American Dream of providing a better life for his family.  As a young boy, he was adopted because his family was too poor to keep him.  At age 13, he journeyed to America for a month on a boat and entered through Angel Island during the time of the Geary Act, which was an extension of the Chinese Exclusion Act.  Immigrants had to prove they were already residents of the US in order to enter the nation.

During his 3-month stay at Angel Island, they found out he was a "phony" (Yeh-Yeh's own words) and sent him back to China.  A little while later, he bought papers once again, claiming he was a family member of an already established immigrant family and became a Paper Son, entering America through Los Angeles.

Eventually, he chose his picture bride (literally from looking at pictures of young women) and married my grandma, bringing her back to America.  My dad was born in China and immigrated to California at age 6.  He and my grandma had two more daughters.  The first one passed away as a young child due to disease.  I never knew her.  I grew up with only Aunt Kathy, who is 18 years younger than my dad.

Yeh-Yeh became a chef at the Shadows Restaurant in Stockton, CA, and eventually owned the business, working hard, long hours.  Most of my memories of him from my childhood are in the restaurant with his tall chef's hat cooking and cutting prime rib and other delectable entrees.  Unfortunately, I did not learn how to cook like my grandparents or my dad.  He always offered us food with a smile.

My two brothers and I are his only grandchildren and we saw him all the time.  He picked us up from school all the way through high school when my dad wasn't available.  He never complained about anything. A mild-mannered man, he loved to make us happy.  Every once in a while, we were allowed to pick out a toy from the Best catalog and he would pick up our choices one day to bring to us.  :)

My dad passed away from lung cancer in July of 2006.  Almost immediately after burying his son, my grandfather showed symptoms of dementia and experienced a slow decline in health since then.

I am so happy Yeh-Yeh was able to meet and play with my boys, his great-grandsons.  He loved children and looked forward to our visits to Stockton every couple of months.  When we would drive away from their home, the photo below was often the view I had from the car.  My grandparents and my aunt seeing us off on our long drive back to Southern California.

We are proud of him and honored that he is our grandpa.  I miss him so much and pray that he heard and received the gospel that we shared with him, the good news that Jesus died for his sins and offers the only way of salvation and reconciliation with God.