Coming from a family that is almost transient – we moved houses every two to three years between the two cities from where my parents originated. Thus, the artifacts that tell the story of our family seem to decline in number through the years. More than a decade ago, our house that belonged to my parents was broken into. It has left a lot of bad memories that there were many things that we left behind. As an adult, I have been travelling with my daughter and have only brought with us mementos in a box that we want to take with us through the years. Now that my daughter is an adult, we are miles apart, and still uncertain where she will choose to live.
If I will have to shrink the culture of my family from a small box to three pieces of artifacts, I will keep my daughters’ memory book, a photo album of my family, and the books that my daughter gave me.
Memory book – It is a collection of anecdotes and photos from the time my daughter was born. Written on it is the history of
our family, her milestones, and the memories that we shared together. This book has a collection of stories that my daughter and I talk about repeatedly. It brings us back together no matter how much distance separates us. It also includes letters that my daughter wrote to me since she was six. Being a teacher, I have always managed to help my daughter develop life skills in a fun way. Her appreciation for writing has developed as we used it as a medium to tell messages to each other. Through time, this has become a part of our mother-daughter tradition. We write to each other to share our pains, excitement, boredom, anger and most especially, our joys.
Family Album – Although it does not show all the years of my childhood, it includes all the many memories of our families. It shows the changes we have gone through all these years – all the additions to our family including the moments when a few members have gone. It brings back the places we visited, our celebrations, the things my siblings fought about and the moments of victory when one was able to assert herself, the clothes we shared as hand me downs, and all the many stories we now share with each other as adults.
Picture books from my daughter – We both love reading picture books even now that she is an adult. Although far from each other, we would have times that we read pages of our favourite stories to each other. From the time my daughter has learned that she can actually make money from baby-sitting, she always bought picture books about mother and daughter whenever there is an occasion or when she knows she would be in ‘trouble’.
Parting with the things that I have already narrowed down to keep would be very difficult for me. These are not only material possessions, but they are a representation of my relationships, experiences and stories that explain who I am. They are pieces of a puzzle that encompass how my identity has been shaped by my family culture and the years of connections and experiences from assimilated culture that have reshaped my identity. The reasons why I am a survivor being a middle child, a single mother and an Asian woman living and leading at work in the world where the dominant culture comes from the West. I maintain the culture of my roots while I partly assimilate the different culture in my environment. I have remained grounded on who I am because there have been people who see beyond my skin colour, and my English accent. People accept me “with whatever resources and richness that I come with” (Laureate Education, 2011).
Laureate Education (Producer). (2011). Family cultures: Dynamic interactions [Video file]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu