Sally in the Zen

Confessions of a Befuddled Zen Buddhist


The other day Zen Master came over and knocked on my head, not unlike Biff in Back to the Future“Hello, anybody home?”  He kept knocking on my head.  “Hellloooo?”

“Uh, did you need something, Zen Master?”  But he had walked away.

Sometimes I truly believe that women are not the only ones who PMS.

Zen Master is 68 years old this year.  Although you really wouldn’t know it by the way he constantly gripes about being on the cusp of 70, and on some days, he talks as if he’s already 70. 

Zen Master arrived in the United States in the late 60s, touching ground in New York City where he subsequently met Zen Mum through her relative, and they married.  In all of these years, he has had only one opportunity to go back to China to visit his family, and I vaguely remember that time.  It was during middle school and my brother and I had to stay behind because it was during the school year.  But that was the first chance for Zen Master to finally and formally introduce Zen Mum to his mother, my grandmother.

My grandmother has since passed on, joining my grandfather who is the first to pass many years earlier.  Whenever Zen Master speaks of his mother, he grows quiet until he has to get up and walk out the room.  He vividly remembers growing up in rural China with his family, the hardships and impoverishment.  Grandfather had always left home looking for work, looking for food for the family.  His mother bore everything in the homestead, and at his first chance of getting out of the farming village and finding gainful employment, almost immediately Zen Master returned his due by providing for her, Grandfather and Zen Master’s three younger siblings.  That support would continue steadily and without fail every year while simultaneously trying to etch out a living and a family here in the States.  This support especially for his father and mother continued until their very end.

I met my grandfather when I was quite little and still lived in New York.  I have never met my grandmother.  I have never been to China. 

I had read The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan and she had noted that when she first arrived into China, when she stepped off the plane, it was like finally coming home.  I have always wondered if that would happen with me. 

So tapping into my many years of savings and my many annual bonuses, when Zen Master and Zen Mum finally retired, we went to China.


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