I am almost certain that a great deal of my love for food is genetically inherited from my grandmother, whom I call Puo-Puo. I have only muddled memories of food she made for me as a child — ma-puo tofu that I was afraid to eat because it might be too spicy, candied slices of virginia ham pressed between two layers of wonderbread that I would fetch out of a foil wrapped package in the refrigerator (a variant of a hunan dish using what was available in America). The memories are confused with a household that was full of people and many many talented cooks. I can’t remember offhand when she stopped cooking — was it when I was in elementary school or middle school?
Puo-Puo is 93 years old, having been born in 1914, just months after the onset of World War I. She has six children, thirteen grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren. She danced at her grandchild’s wedding at the age of 90. On Sunday, she protested when my uncle made her use a walker to get down the hallway of the rehab center where she was recovering from hip surgery. I happened to be in town and was very fortunate to get to see her. Here is a photo of her that day:
On Monday Puo-puo had a massive stroke. She is still in the ICU but is stable, but the doctors don’t think she will recover fully from this. I am back in San Francisco anxiously awaiting updates from my family and am thinking of her.
Sadly, Puo-puo passed away in her sleep in the early morning hours of June 26. I will miss her.