Welp, the actual plane trip went much better than I could have hoped. They were both on mostly excellent behavior until the very end of the first 12.5 hour flight. After only 4.5 hours of sleep on the plane though, who can blame them? Thanks to my mom’s awesome friend who is a travel agent, she got us bulkhead seats and I was even able to put DD in a bassinet for a few hours. We had like 3 feet of leg room. Seriously awesome.

Thankfully, at the airport in Taipei, they had a nice sized indoor playground. They also had one huge train to look at but I didn’t know about it until later. DS and DD had a great time. On the 45 minute flight to Kaohsiung, they both passed out from sheer exhaustion the last 15 minutes or so. Of course, that was enough to wire them for the next 7 hours.

We went first to my First Aunt’s (my mom’s oldest sister) house with my cousins and waited there for another cousin to arrive. Then we went to my grandparents’ house. Craziness. The outside of the house had two big tents full of funeral flowers and wreaths. Inside the first floor of the house was an altar and my grandmother’s picture up next to Buddha. We had to bow and worship (my brother and I didn’t use incense so we were just showing respect) to my grandmother’s image. Then we went upstairs to see my grandfather.

They didn’t allow the babies in the house. The family because it was custom and wanted to protect my babies from death and evil spirits. My mom because the family worships ancestors and Buddha which are false idols. So they hire nuns and monks to continually read from Buddhist scriptures to hopefully help send my grandmother on to heaven and protect her from evil spirits. Terribly confusing and I had to have my mother explain everything to me.

My brother and I have never seen so many relatives from my mom’s house. My grandmother was eldest of five and my grandfather was eldest of six. It was a briefly disconcerting moment when I met a woman who looked just like my grandmother and they told me it was her younger sister. Paid our brief respects to my grandfather who had to be told who we were. He thanked us for coming. He was sweet but had a cold. (Apparently, he caught a cold, gave it to my grandmother, it worsened into pneumonia, and she passed away peacefully in her sleep at the hospital. It was unexpected.) He was unshaven and in his pajamas. My mom told me that was a way to symbolize grief in their custom.

My grandparents were a love match. They had fallen in love on first sight (very different for those times!) My grandmother was very outgoing and talkative and was working because she had to care for her siblings. My grandfather was more on the quiet side but he also worked to care for his siblings and family. Together, they built our family’s steel factory and have given money to take care of all their siblings, their siblings’ children, and their siblings’ grandchildren. For some of their siblings, they feel as if my grandparents didn’t give them enough. I find that astounding.

They collapsed around 330pm and I let them sleep a long time against my better judgment. I tried to wake DS up, but he was pretty much unconscious and I changed him and let him sleep. DD woke up so I fed her, my mom gave her a bath, and then I nursed her back to sleep.

My mom went to her room to sleep because they have to be up at 530 for the funeral service, then a 4 hour round trip bus ride to my grandmother’s hometown temple in the mountains for a super long service. The kids and I aren’t going because they don’t allow or advise bringing children. I am not complaining!

I did get to nap for about 2 hours then I woke up because I thought we were going to dinner. My mom and I debated for awhile and then she went out to get food. Of course, I didn’t get a chance to sleep until 11pm and then DS woke up all bright-eyed and bushytailed at 1am local time. That’s because it was 8am in California! Then he woke up DD.

I fed him, gave him a bath, and he played with trains. Twice he woke up DD right when she was about to fall asleep. Finally, I broke down and had him watch Thomas the train videos on YouTube. I am currently trying to get him back to bed because he is yawning and still short a good 6 hours of sleep. Wish me luck!

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