I was thinking about my great-grandmother and how awesome she was—a beautiful, graceful, intelligent, gentile woman. She was truly a remarkable woman. So when people say that I’m just like her, I feel proud. They’ve always said that I am the spitting image of her, but I think she was far more beautiful and the fairest of ladies. She was everything sophisticated, and everything Mrs. Bennett wished her daughters could be. More importantly, she was a woman who made things happen.
When it was decided that Pope Francis I would be our new pope, I decided to go over to my grandmother’s house to take a picture of my great-grandmother meeting Pope Paul VI. To be honest, my whole life I thought it was Pope John Paul II. I suppose, growing up people would just say she met “the pope,” and the only pope I knew until 8 years ago, was Pope John Paul II.
I realized there was something off about the facts I knew in my head, because I tried to figure out what year that photo was taken in. There’s a strip of script in Chinese, and I picked out what I was certain said 1974. However, later when I returned home, I realized if it was indeed 1974, then either this photo was taken before his papacy (thinking it was Pope John Paul II), or I can’t read Chinese at all, or it’s not in fact the pope!
The more I looked at the picture, the more I realized it didn’t quite look like Pope John Paul II; but I thought, maybe I was mistaken, because the picture showed his profile. After discussing this with my father, he told me the story.
He said it was indeed Pope Paul VI, NOT Pope John Paul II. My great-grandmother had been invited to Rome, because she organized the first senior care for disadvantaged senior citizens, run by nuns.
See, I told you—a remarkable woman. When she wanted something to happen, she made it happen—like this senior care for disadvantaged senior citizens, and getting to meet the pope. I believe she was quite the independent woman in her time, though still very traditional. After all, she turned down an offer to be on the cover of LIFE Magazine, because at that time she was already married, and it would have been inappropriate.
My grandmother lived a wonderful 90 or 91 years. Maybe even 92. Her birthdate is disputed, because when she left China after WWII to escape communism, I am told she changed her birth year so that she could be younger. Don’t you just love her spunk?
One of the most important things I’ve learned from her, even after she’s left this earth, is that it’s important to live a life to be proud of. When I think of all the wonderful things people have to say about her, I always think that I’d like to follow in her footsteps. I want my children and my children’s children to be proud of where they came from, who they came from. Kids are lucky if they can find good role models in their immediate circle.
BIG LOVE & HUGS