Nancy and Robert performed in Nancy’s old hometown Chicago! We were at the 8th JustStories Storytelling event which commissions one storyteller annually to create a story around justice or racial equality – a personal story that reveals history not usually heard or learned. This year that commission went to Nancy! My story is called ‘Bittersweet’.Storyteller Sue O’Halloran and Father Derek Simons of the Society of the Divine Word co-produce and sponsor this amazing project with a brilliant webpage called Race Bridges.

Gladys Pix

“My story is about my mom. It’s a story that looks at me trying to figure out who this lady was. Was she the mean mama I grew up with? And why was she so mean? Or was it just the limited perception of a young girl, a daughter attached to the ignorant and shallow illusion of a Donna Reed or a Father Knows Best show? Guess which one!? By going through the period after my mom’s heart attack in which she completely changed to this sweet soft and funny person, I was left with ‘really, who is this person?’”

Chinese Am. History

“I go through trying to figure it out by looking at our history in this country: our 1st generation came in 1850 and started the fishing industry despite the hatred and unprovoked anti-Chinese violence rampant up and down the west coast, and continues through the 2nd and 3rd generation challenging this prejudice to finally the 4th generation, my mother. And, like a healing story, a happy ending. I discover how amazing my mom was and the noble sacrifice her life was so that I could be who I am today”

“I’m a 5th generation American. My children are the 6th, and there are already 7 generations in our family. But if I am walking down the street with a friend from Australia, which one of us will be seen as the foreigner?”

And so, it is hoped by JustStories and Eth-Noh-Tec that these kinds of stories, made available to schools with a curriculum guide, will correct the errors and replace the paucity so prevalent in teaching the full history of this country.

Chinatown Show

Our performances this week took place in several locations between Chicago’s Chinatown and Evanston on the Northshore. We performed at St.Teresa’s School across from the Chinese American Museum. Afterwards we got a quick private tour of the new museum (still in repair after a devastating fire). Special thanks to Margaret Larson and the staff who helped make the Chinatown collaboration concert a wonderful turn out. They had a great turn out of 100 people- best crowd they’ve ever had for a show.

These performances were especially significant to Nancy who has deep roots here in the Chicago Chinese American community. The show became a gathering point as relatives drove in from far away to attend the premiere of this piece. Thank you Brother Ed and Sis-in-Law Rachel Wang, Cousins Roger (& Elaine) Foin, Debbie (& Gary) Alderman, Jordan and June Wong, and nieces: Michelle Cheung (and kids Hannah and Jakey) and Marcia Wang and all the other friends of the Wang Tribe in the area.

Chinese Museum & Video

One of the events in the tour was video taping shorter versions of Asian American family history at the “SPACE” (Society for Preservation of Arts and Culture in Evanston). Hours of prep condensed into 10 minute excerpts which later will be rendered for the website of Racebridges to be used by educators in schools to advocate for racial, ethnic and religious tolerance. Kudos to Sue O’Halloran and Father Derek Simon! The storytelling community should be so proud of their work!

On a final note from Nancy: “I wish to thank all the storytellers, artists, writers, film makers and friends who’ve been a part of the this creative process: Olga Loya, Mimi Motoyoshi, Erica Lann-Clark, Nancy Gaglio, Lynn Mueller, Canyon Sam, Felicia Lowe, Ginni Stern, Anne Shimojima, Nancy Donoval, Beth Horner, Sue O’Halloran, Ann Scroggie, and Robert. And for their stories thanks to: my mom Gladys, Gramma Yokelund, and Aunt Mary”.

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This article has 1 Comment

  1. Hi, Nancy,
    Robert led me to your blog after I asked him about stories about Asian traditions of eldercare, usually eldest son cared for parents > inheritance. etc. He told me about you caring for your mother and the resulting story. The page connection is here, by the way. The link above is no good.….

    I am now over 8 years caring for mother with Alzheimer's. We now both live in the living room, and I've moved my computers there too, with mirror to keep an eye on her at all times. Most of this time has be 24/7 sole caregiving with the months since beginning of July under constant nearby supervision. She does go to senior daycare program 9-12 hours a week, and I've just been assigned 8 hours respite caregiver.

    I do Laura Simms' website, and posted a query to the Healing Storytellers listserve for suggestions about caregiving stories. What do other cultures “do” with their elderly? I found the term “filial responsiblity” from that list, and searches using that term came up with a lot of information. A storyteller led me to a paper on “Subcontracting Filial Responsibility”… a study of the Asian immigrant community here in the Silicon Valley. Basically the family cobbles together an assortment of paid caregivers, nursing home, etc. to make sure the parent was cared for…just not by them.

    My blog that I started last January is

    Oh, of course we knew each other a bit when I lived on Orcas. Did you know there is a NINA lane, think on the north shore? That's what we called it any way. The sign was relatively new. We wondered who Nina was, wife of a pioneer, probably? Someone said, Nope, it meant No Irish Need Apply (or was it Italian?).

    Also Orcas has a dark side regarding Chinese immigrant history, rumor has it. Apparently there was a cave at water level used to smuggle in the latest boatload of Chinese. Sometimes they drowned. Also heard there was a night when the men of the island banded together and rounded up all the Chinese and disappeared them. Long walk off a short pier? Who knows. Wonder if the historical society has any info.

    Well, better tend to Mom. She didn't do well with all the visitors today.

    Hang in there! Hope to catch a Salon soonish, if the respite caregiver will cooperate.

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