stories from the life of Pak Lam
To my dear grandchildren:
Thank you for listening and
writing. I hope you will enjoy
these stories now and in the
In the beginning not much.
Oh, I don’t know. *laugh* We didn’t
really date as we were quite far
away from each other. There was
no telephone at that time to call
each other too.
MaMa seemed very nice.
In 1953, I came back to
Guangdang. We got married after
I graduated from University. I got
married with MaMa at that time in
a very small ceremony. We did not
do big weddings then.
what is your first
It is hard to remember that long ago now. But, I do remember
the first time my father came back from from America. It was my
first time meeting my father. I was five then. I remember that my
mother received a letter from America saying that my father
was coming back. He was coming back by ship so it took a
long time. Almost three months from.
I remember waiting for him in the house the day my father was
due to arrive. My mother made a special meal with chicken
that day and made me wear my best outfit. I was playing
outside the house when I saw a man walking towards the
house. At first I did not know it was him. Then my mother came
out to meet him. She waved me over. At the time I was not
sure how to react, but my father had brought me a gift from
America. It was a small wooden boat.
What was your favorite
My mother was a very good cook. Most times there was not that much to
eat when I was young. The best times, were when my father sent money
back from America. At that time my mother would buy Chinese sausage
and cook it in the clay pot with the rice. I would stand in the kitchen and
watch my mother put the water, rice, and sausage in. The smell would
fill the house. It is a very simple dish, but it was my favorite when I was
young. It is still a dish which I enjoy very much now.
What is your favorite
memory with a
I did not know my father’s parents, but I grew up living with my
mother’s mother. She was a very kind and thoughtful person.
We did not have much then, but my grandmother would always
save up to buy small treats for me. I was her only grandchild so
she wanted to spoil me.
My mother was often out running errands or working so I would
spend a lot of time with my grandmother at home. My favorite
times with her were helping her cook meals at home. She
taught we how to wash the rice and we would wash the rice
together. We would take the pot out to go get water and then
wash the rice exactly three time. Then she would start the fire
for the stove and begin cooking the rice. While waiting for the
rice to cook she would tell always remind me of how important
it was to not rush the rice. I always remember
cooking rice with my grandmother.
did you used to
I was not very good at sports.I
focused on my studies when I was
young. Occasionally, I would play
table tennis with my best friends in
university. After classes we would get
together and play a few rounds. My
two best friends and I would play
during the weekends when we would
go home from the university dorms.
Over time I got quite good at
it and we would get a group of
friends together and set up small
competitions. I only won once, but I
always enjoyed playing.
What was your first plane
I rode a plane for the first time in 1978 from Sea Tac airport to San
Francisco to visit your grandmother’s sister. I was very nervous, since I had
never been on a plane before. Back then, flying was much easier than
now. There were fewer people at the airport and fewer planes.
Even for this short flight they had a proper meal and the food was good,
not like it is now. I had a seat towards the front and was very excited.
Then when the plane took off, I became very nervous that the plane
would crash. I was so concerned for the whole flight! Very different than
how everyone flies so often now.
WHAT IS THE BEST
When I was young I was a bad
student. I was younger than the others
and did not want to study. I would
claim to go to the bathroom and then
run out to play instead. The teachers
would catch me an get very angry.
One day, an older teacher caught
me. He gave me a stern lecture that
my mother worked very hard so that
I could go to school. He said that I
should make her proud and work hard
for her. At that time, I did not pay
attention to the old teacher. But, when
I got older I remembered his words.
Can you describe how you
got your first car?
Your grandmother and I moved to the US in 1968. It took us five
years to save up for a car. I did not know anything about cars then
so we talking to other uncles in Chinatown and asked their opinion.
Since we had a large family, a station wagon was recommended.
We could not afford a new car so we looked at used cars. A friend
of a friend from Chinatown was selling a Ford Country Square. That
was the car that we bought. It was light blue and had wood panel on
the side. It was such a great day to bring that car home. Your father
and aunts were so excited to ride in it.
What is most
Your grandma and I have
been together for a long time.
It is really important to think
of yourselves as a team. No
matter what we always try to
work together towards things.
Especially when you are parents.
Your spouse is the only other
person who can shoulder those
big life burdens with you.
You have to remember that
the two of you are leading
the household together. Your
grandmother and I try very hard
to work as a team.
How did you
Your grandmother and I were
both so young then. We were
excited of course. But, on the
day when Fred was born we
were in such a rush. But, I do
remember the moment when I held your father for the first time. He was
so small. My hands seemed so big in comparison.
You see this small baby looking up at you and you know that it is now
your responsibility. It finally sunk in that nothing would ever be the
same. From that day forward I was a father. I was going to be raising
this little baby to become an adult. I knew I would have to work hard
to build a better life for all of us.
What was your
childhood home like?
I grew up in the family home of my mother and her mother. We
lived in a small fishing village in Taishan. Our house was very
different than the house we have now. It was a very small brick
house with only three rooms. It was only a little larger than the
living room in the house I live in now.
The house had been built by my great grandfather. He had
built the house by hand with the help of some of the other
villagers. My mother and grandmother were very proud of that
There was no heating or plumbing inside. There was a kitchen,
a living room, and a single bedroom. To use the bathroom
you had to walk out to the village toilets. We all shared the
bedroom. There were small windows for each room. I slept on
one side of the bedroom, nearest to the window.
ever been the
recipient of a
When I was still a student
in university I once lost my
notebook with all my notes for
one of my classes the week
before exams. I could not
remember where it had been.
Another student, several years
older than me, found it at the
library. He looked up my name
and asked around until he
found me and hand delivered
the notebook to my dorm room.
That was how I met Wun. We
ended up becoming very good
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE
Back in China when I was growing up we did not celebrate
Christmas that much. My mother was a Christian so we went to church
for Christmas. After coming to America, Grandma and I started
celebrating Christmas much more. When our children were young, we
started buying Christmas gifts. My favorite tradition is watching kids
open their presents. Now we get to see that with our grandchildren
as well. It is a very happy time to see everyone enjoy their presents.
Rememory Stories was created to help seniors and
their family’s share family history stories and create
new memories together. Sharing stories is beneficial to
all members of the family and can be an especially
wonderful experience for seniors.
Seniors will have the opportunity to impart wisdom
and reflect on what they have accomplished.
Rememory Stories makes it easy to start elliciting
stories and turn them into a pleasant visual format for
you and your family to enjoy.
We hope each weekly story will be a fun new
• Medical studies have shown statistically significant
improvements in mental cognition, mood, and
• Provides a sense of achievement and legacy to the
Build Family & Caregiver Relationships
• Connects past family history with the present
• Build family relationships by sharing experiences and