Sunday, 17 February 2008


My immediate ancestors have done a lot of running away.

A great-great grandfather ran away from China because he had murdered someone, and his children spent a lot of effort getting as far away from each other as they could. A great grandfather ran away from China to get away from his parents who had (on the advice of his tutor) turned him into an opium addict to stop him being interested in girls. A great-great grandmother ran away from China, taking her young family with her, to escape heaven knows what.

My Irish grandmother disassociated herself from her immediate family and refused to have anything to do with them, in the process becoming a successful business woman. My own parents ran away from their own cultural heritages is a hazy glow of nineteen sixties idealism.

There are also relatives who have tried to run away from themselves through drink and gambling.

What about me? I have to admit it does leave me feeling pretty homeless/landless. I have something of an identity crisis from time to time. I can't answer simple questions like "what is your cultural background?", "where do you call home?", "what people do you identify with?".

I'm a "Heinz 57", part Hakka, part Hokkien, part Cantonese, part Dayak, part Irish. The Irish should be the largest part, but I'm fairly sure I'm hard-wired Cantonese as people can find me cold and arrogant in the flesh because I shoot from the hip and definitely prefer honesty to diplomacy.

Some fellow mongrels

I certainly don't want to do any running away, but this is because I have nowhere to run away from. Thank God for an understanding husband who appreciates that I don't have English cultural norms for politeness, use of vocabulary, tone or expression. I am particularly grateful for the fact he stopped me swearing, even if inside I feel like doing a "Plaistow Patricia"- PLEASE, FOR THE GOOD OF YOUR SOUL,DO NOT LOOK UP THIS CULTURAL REFERENCE IF YOU DON'T GET IT. My mannerisms can get me into a fair amount of bother with the hyper-sensitive English, who can think I'm on top note and really angry when I'm actually cool, calm and collected and just warming to my theme.

There are some things you can not run away from and have to accept. What would I do without the Catholic Church which does "exactly what it says on the tin" and directs us all irrespective of our personalities, cultural backgrounds and blood lines, to the one thing worth running towards?


Tom in Vegas said...

“Home is not where you live, but where they understand you.” ~~Christian Morgenstern

Seems to me that with an understanding and supportive hubby, you found a true place to call home.

Perception. Perception. Perception. How we think we come across may not be the same way someone else perceives us. There is so much misunderstanding around the world and throughout history because someone meant one thing and someone else thought another. Might be even a significant contributor to atheism. The part that matters is that we must be true to ourselves and NOT become something someone else wants us to be (this last sentence has NOTHING to do with Christianity, where we are called to holiness and be more like Him).


Irene said...

Absolutely fascinating peregrination. I presume
Catholicism was inherited from the Irish grandmother -- or not?

Feel good about it. Pilgrimage and pilgrim are positive concepts in the church.

Anonymous said...

Well as long as you're mostly Irish I can't see a problem! lol

Rita said...

The Catholicism is/was strong on the Chinese side too. The Jesuits (may God protect them), rescued one group of siblings from a very abusive extended family and this led to some powerful conversions to the Faith.

Good point, well made!

I'm grateful for the Irish thick skin and single mindedness! It is just a shame that we are now totally cut off from any of our Irish relatives. This is my mother's wish and my grandmother' wish. Occasionally, it feels like there is a big, map of Ireland shaped hole in my life.

AutumnRose said...

I'm sorry, I had to Google Plaistow Patricia, for the simple fact that you told me not to...(I'm like that)

...I wish I hadn't now!!!!!


Rita said...

I've added a stronger warning!

WhiteStoneNameSeeker said...

Not having anywhere to belong is like being a non-person.
I too am grateful I am Catholic and no matter what; this is Home.