Bill Belew has raised 2 bi-cultural kids, now 34 and 30. And he and his wife are now parenting a 3rd, Mia, who is 8.
This guest post was written by Barbara, who proclaims: Time out from blogging my dissertation!
My own blog can rest for a moment!
I can’t seem to put my hands on a picture of my grandfather in time to put it with this post. However, I can tell you all I know about him, and illustrate my writing with a map of Korea. That is where he was born and grew up.
As a young man, he traveled by ship from Korea to California. Once there, he enrolled as a student at Stanford University. I don’t know what his major was, or what his academic plans were. He never talked about his past. Was it shame that he did not complete his education? I will never know.
But his precarious financial situation did not allow him to continue his studies. So, he made his way East, finally settling in New York City, New York. He obtained work as a jeweler.
It was in New York City that he met my grandmother Agnes. She was a widow with two children, my mother and her older brother, my uncle Bill. They started out as good friends, and then, when my mother was 12, Edward married my grandmother.
As is true with a lot of immigrants, Edward Lee was not the name he received at birth. It was the name the immigration officials could deal with, could pronounce and spell, when he came to this county.
He died of colon cancer, well before my grandmother died at age 96. I remember my mother talking about visiting him in the hospital, and how shriveled up and emaciated he was, since he could not digest his food properly.
That’s the sad part of the story. The real, and very happy part of my narrative is that, when I was about 10 years old, I wanted a pen pal. And I wanted a typewriter. Somehow, sending letter in envelopes and receiving return messages in our mailbox seemed to be a delightful adventure to me.
It was a dream that I shared with my grandfather Edward, and he took immediate action. He bought me a typewriter, and I installed in on a desk in the screened-in porch, off the dining room. He announced he was able to be my pen pal, and would write back anytime I wrote to him.
I must not have had an otherwise exciting life at age ten. I remember writing a lot about the weather and what I was doing at St. Thomas Acquinas Parish grade school. That year I was in fifth grade, and my elementary school was being remodeled. So, to fit all the enrolled students into one-half the space, the administrators changed the schedule for us bussed-in students to a half a day. It was almost as good as being given a longer recess.
And the reduced-school schedule allowed me lots of time to write my grandfather. If I close my eyes, I can still see his beautiful handwriting, with many circular flourishes. I did not know enough to save his letters for when I would be old enough to really appreciate them.
His letters were examples of the original word art!
Talk to Bill and others about their experiences raising bi-cultural Japanese-American kids.