Going Back to Our Roots
My husband is a history buff. Each time I need information about the past, I run to him instead of reading up on it.
When he said he wanted to take a trip to China, particularly Xiamen, I was sure it wasn’t an impulse decision. We’ve all been to China gaping at tourist spots, yet I knew he ached to go back, minus the family, to trace his roots. Maybe to see how he fits in the larger world in historical context.
His flight had been booked. He and some cousins would travel together and go to their ancestors’ place of birth and meet kin who have chosen to remain there.
Unfortunately, Tony had a stroke three days before the trip. Despite pleas with his physician, he was prohibited from flying, “Not now; maybe in three weeks.”
Finally, last week, he re-booked—after being given the green light. With a cousin, Sonny, he sought his China connections with familial generations, passed down only through oral histories.
By contrast, my own genealogy has never been a problem. My hometown was just six hours away, now reduced to three with new superhighways.
But China is a world apart, with family myths needing confirmation.
He did confirm a lot! Ancestors used to own vast lands lost to the red revolution. But there stands a town, modern yet quaint, called Yu Tsuo (House of Yu) where everyone bears my husband’s middle name—most of whom entertained him and Sonny with 20-course lauriat meals at every turn. They trekked up a hill to visit their great, great grandfather’s tomb.
Psychologists say that genealogy research is a way to consolidate sense of place in an age where families have become fractured. In this trip, I am sure that Tony discovered family medical history that caused his cancer, heart attack, and stroke in one lifetime—but surviving all, he was still strong enough to visit the past.
His photos tell only half the story. The other half, I feel, is in his heart.
So as he regales me and my sons now with anecdotes of his forbears’ history in China, the only thing that’s important to a history-non-fan like me is that God’s grace upheld him in his dream trip, despite his fragile condition, and enabled him to come home intact.
“. . . the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.” Psalm 121:8 (NIV)