Rooting for truth has taken a new dimension for me. Two years ago, I found a nugget that turned out to be a gold vein. The veins grew and grew until I traveled to Beijing in October where I was able to meet Lei Zhangbao and his family. He is a direct descendant of Yangshi Lei, eight generations of architects for the last eight emperors.
Thanks to Liu Hao from MyChinaRoots for helping me with the research, setting up and translating for me at our meeting, and helping me at the Tsinghua University Library.
You can imagine how excited we were to visit the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven, and the Summer Palace, places that Yangshi Lei designed and built. I can hardly wait to write a book about this branch of the family tree who is listed in UNESCO’s Memory of the World Registry. You’ll have to read my book to find out why.
Next, back to Taishan and what we discovered at the villages.
Another day at NARA (National Archives) and digging through more files, I hit pay dirt. The ratio of Chinese women to men in the early days of Chinese Sojourners to the Gold Mountain (U.S.) was very small. So, I cannot help wonder what motivated my grand-uncle to bring his young wife, Toy Shee, to San Francisco in 1928. I cannot help wondering what she must have felt as she birthed three children in this strange land. However, I have a feeling that my uncle Don (Louie Hung Don) would have cherished that young family as much as he loved spending time with me and my siblings in the 40’s and 50’s because he was one of the “bachelors” (the thousands of men alone).
What a difference it was reading Toy Shee’s interrogation versus her husband’s! And what a treasure trove of information painting a picture of her life in China. She must have come from a family of substance because ten servants accompanied her as she rode a sedan chair to her wedding. No doubt they were loaded down with gifts for the Louie family as well as all her worldly possessions. She proffered her husband (my paternal grand-uncle), a man she had never met, a cup of wine and paid respects to his ancestors at the family altar. Then, he went to the men’s celebration while she stayed at her new home with the women. A home she’d share with her in-laws and their servant, a young girl who fetched water from a river a few blocks from the house.
How did she feel when her husband returned to the Gold Mountain before their first child was born? How did she feel when he returned, decided to take her back with him but left their first-born with his parents?
A note to fellow genealogy researchers who are new to the Chinese traditions: Toy Shee means that she was from the Toy clan. I do not know what her birth name was. I do not know if a woman took a “married name” as her husband (Louie Kaow/Louie Qiao Wei) did. Her confident gaze speaks volumes to me even though she could not write or even sign her name.
I hope her spirit and/or the children’s will tell me more. Until then, I will enjoy MY grand-nieces and the memories of the day we shared exploring the Korean Market, snacked on fermented blue crabs, baby crabs, ramen, glass noodles and more. I’ll enjoy my extended family (new ‘cousins’ I met while doing research at NARA) as we dig through the documents, the Jiapu, and of course more food.
Do you ever talk to the Universe? I not only talk to it but I also listen to, you know, that still, small voice that whispers in your mind’s ear. The one that teases and coaxes, hints and downright pushes me towards those “pieces of the cosmic puzzle.” The one that reassures me that everything is in Divine Order no matter how crazy things look on the surface, that “this too shall pass,” and the sun will rise in the East tomorrow.
Today, I am especially thankful that I listened as the Universe guided me in the direction of dreams – to China last year and to the completion of my book this year.
I’m grateful to all the folks who have bought my book, read it, asked amazing questions, and even reviewed it. It has been so much more than the journey to China and the process of writing and publishing; it has been a spiritual journey that I will never forget.
I look forward to what lies ahead. Shhhh . . . I think I hear the Universe calling.
Thanks to Central VA IONS Community for inviting me to share my stories and some fun meditation exercises today. What a fantastic group! If you are not familiar with the Institute of Noetic Science, you should check it out: IONS
I am reluctant no more!
In celebration, I am offering a FREE e-book of Conversations with a Hungry Ghost:Memoir of a Reluctant Medium now through Monday. Click on the photo to go directly to Amazon and then, join the conversation.
Meditation? Ghosts? Genealogy? Co-Creation? What do these topics have in common? Although they might seem disconnected, I will share how all of these became my spiritual journey at the April meeting of the Central VA IONS Community.
IONS, Institute of Noetic Science, was founded by Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell, the sixth man to walk on the moon, after a profound experience on his trip back home from his voyage to the moon. In that moment, he “knew that life in the universe was not just an accident based on random processes.”
I had the same kind of experience on my journey to China to my father’s ancestral villages and in writing my book, Conversations with a Hungry Ghost: Memoir of a Reluctant Medium.
You don’t have to go to the moon or to China to embrace your spiritual path. I will share some easy exercises to assist the journey to consciousness. I hope you can join us.
You can sign up at Meetup.