“Happy”

My Grandma’s Snacks Shop…

Love Simu Liu…I first saw him acting in “Kim’s Convenience,” a Netflix series about a Korean family who immigrated to Canada. It is hilarious, and yes, it brings back to who I am. Well…here in the U.S., I am considered Asian, a pool of people with “certain features” from a certain continent. I guess we should be thankful that our race has a name instead of just “others.”

You see…those “Pocky” snacks…I love them!! Not the strawberries or the green tea matcha…but the simple chocolate ones, the one I grew up with! You see, Simu Liu is like 31 years old; I was a young adult, say 19/20, when he was born. So, life was simpler back in my time: one flavor-chocolates-. If you watched the YouTube video, you would see him mentioning shrimp crackers…well…I couldn’t say no to those…until I realized that the sodium level bloated me up. So, I had to cut down a little bit, no, actually a lot! I haven’t had shrimp crackers in a year and a half. Part of the regiment called: “taking care of myself”…shoot me! I didn’t know that taking care of myself often means no more shrimp crackers, pork belly, etc.… at least not too often…

I absolutely am in love with my Grandma from my mom’s side ( no past tense here since the love stays until now). She is short, chunky, a good cook, feisty, sensitive ( she cried a lot, especially when she fought with my mom), and she had a “youth” spirit. She understood me…no, she never spoiled me, and yes, she was rough…but she understood me.

When she passed ( she had kidney complications), I was eleven years old. When I heard the news, I couldn’t cry. My mother was surprised that I didn’t cry; instead, I played outside. I ran, jumped, played badminton with my uncle…kept on moving. Two days later, we took an eight -hours drive to the city where Grandma would be buried. She wanted to be next to my Grandpa. She was going to be buried with the traditional Chinese ceremony. The whole ceremony lasted for one week. We had to wear whites colored clothing for forty days, starting from the day she passed. Sending her with “money” that represents luck and a smooth gateway to heaven was a part of the ceremony. For that, we have to make fake golden money.

Photo by Szilvia Basso on Unsplash

My mother’s family decided to make five thousand golden money. I was in charge of doing it. I sat down on the floor; I only took a little break now and then to eat and shower. I couldn’t sleep at night, so that was a perfect thing to do. My Grandma lay in the coffin behind me. I wasn’t scared, even at night. In fact, I felt peaceful. I figured my mom knew that was the way I wanted to stay longer with Grandma; so, she let me be alone, making the golden money and listening to music with my walkman ( there wasn’t any iPod back then). I still remembered the song; I played it over and again. It is called “All Kinds Of Everything.” My hope: she had a smooth, peaceful journey back to heaven; her spirits won’t get caught on this earth.

“Happy” is the name of my Grandma’s snacks store. I will use the present and past tense, back and forth here, even though all of it happened in the past. I needed to do it; I still feel everything I write here. Intensely! So, bear with me!

“Happy” isn’t a big store. My Grandma’s house is connected with the store. My Grandma doesn’t speak English. She doesn’t understand English, except happy, yes, and no. And she chooses “Happy” as the store's name because food is the source of happiness, and she believes in it.

I visited my Grandma three to four times yearly. To be in the store means much more than just eating as many snacks as I possibly could…looking back, it never happened since she had eyes sharper than an eagle. It was fun to help her restock the cookies, arranging the cookie jars based on the day of the week…yes, my Grandma reminds me of Mrs. Claus that way! She chooses a particular cookie as a special cookie for each day of the week…for years!! She is the kind of person that no one could say no to because she believes in what she does. No customers can tell her to “change the cookie” because she will walk away from them. She says you don’t like it; you don’t come! And her customers shake their heads, and they come the next day, the next week, the next month, the next generations!

When I came to visit, starting at the age of eight, my Grandma started to ask me to take charge of the store. She says that I have learned additions, subtractions, multiplications, and divisions at school; so, it’s time to apply those. She paid me with eight of my favorite cookies and one ice cream bar daily. I was excited and accepted the offer. Well… I have no other choice since she wouldn’t let me eat cookies and ice cream for free anymore! My shift was four hours in the morning and three hours in the afternoon. Her store opens at 8:00 in the morning and closes at 10:00 at night. Everyday! Except for Chinese New Year! She took a week off every year to celebrate it.

When I said yes to being in charge of the store, I didn’t realize that it wasn’t as simple as serving customers and taking care of the cash. I didn’t know that what she taught me was life. Some of the customers came with different temperaments; most didn’t come just for the cookies or the snacks. They came with their “burdens” of the day, whether those were good burdens that make them joyful and pleasant to be with or the heavy burdens that make them angry, bitter, sour. With all, I had to smile. I had to be pleasant.

Lunch and dinner time are my favorite times. My Grandma will cook my favorite food; in fact, all her food is good. During the weekdays, she, one of my aunts, and I will sit down for lunch; during the weekends, both my aunts and two of my uncles would join us for both lunch and dinner. I don’t think I mentioned it earlier. My Grandma has eight children; my mom was the third one.

She and I will be the last ones to leave the dining table most time because those were times when she asked me about the customers. She’ll ask who comes, how they are, and what they buy. I told her about “everything, ” including their mood, what they said, how I replied. She smiles or laughs. Then, she will explain to me, over and again, with why she chooses the name “Happy” for the store. It will be the same lines over and again. I guess she doesn’t think that I get it. Maybe, I didn’t? I couldn’t, and I knew better than to tell her that I’d heard it numerous times. I may have to sleep outside the store that night. Just kidding!

Her wish is simple: it doesn’t matter what the customer brings to “Happy,” they will come out feeling better about their lives or themselves. She says, “Small things make me happy. Your Grandpa used to give me small snacks, never flowers or lots of money. Small snacks. I am always happy.” She hopes to pay it forward to her customers…and looking back,

The most beautiful lesson she teaches me isn’t about dealing with people. It is a simple thing in life. She teaches me that if I could enjoy life’s simple things, then happiness is guaranteed.

“Happy” will always be a snack store for me…Grandma’s legacy sticks…on Christmas day; I decided to go to a closeby supermarket and buy myself Christmas presents. They were three different snacks that I grew up with…I am happy to know that this close-by supermarket supplies them…

This is the song that I listened to when my Grandma passed, over and again, for the next four months…

There would be many stories about my Grandma…so, you may get to know her better with time…

The best quote represents who my Grandma is for me…

“ A Grandmother is both a sword and a shield.” ( Fredrik Backman)

I have to say this: Grandma will be happy to see how I live my life…her lesson stays…I am glad that I appreciate life’s simple things…and I can say that I am happy…

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A place to feature your recollections of your earliest memories from childhood. These can range from simple and vague to more vivid memories.

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Eko BP

Eko BP

craves for more adventures and connections with others through the “why” and the “how” with kindness, challenges, incompleteness, with a touch of cowardliness

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