Vancouver Documentary Family - Keeping Your Roots
Within minutes of arriving at this family’s home, Mom is cleaning up a yogurt disaster on the stairs while her youngest son, snotty with a fever and cold, is crying out for her. What does she do? Carries him in one arm while wiping up the strawberry-flavoured splatter on the first landing.
We all know life with young kids are hard. As they get older, it gets harder in a different, more emotionally taxing way, but while they are little, there is no further truth than “all hands on deck”.
I spent a half-day with this family last year, on one of the rare beautiful Fall days in the city. It was like returning home when I entered their house, for several reasons really. They live in my old neighbourhood, just streets from where I birthed Elliotte at home, so the sense of familiarity and nostalgia cannot be denied. I was also there for the birth of her youngest son, who was over a week late, thereby challenging the myth of consequent babies arriving sooner and faster. Ha!
And then there was their home filled with cultural ties to their roots. There was the food. Grandma was visiting from Taiwan and I had the pleasure of watching her chop up a whole chicken like a skilled butcher (so awesome!) to go with yummy noodles and slice up some pig’s ear for appetizers. Plus pomelo for dessert. Be jealous…it was damn tasty!
Then there was the language of Mandarin being spoken between this family - it was like music to my ears.
I have been thinking a lot of family roots lately. I think it is the passing of my dear matriarch, Ah Ma (maternal grandmother), that triggered a lot of it. I have been asking, how do I/we make room for preserving cultural heritage in my life as a well-assimilated Canadian immigrant? I have struggled to speak my second language of Mandarin and there is tremendous guilt in letting it go, and in not working hard enough to introduce its foundation in my own children’s learning. So when I am in the presence of a family that has done a stand up job of keeping ties between where they came from and their life now, I am reminded of how important and worthwhile that effort is.
C&M, thank you for inviting me into your life again. I hope these photos and family film will always remind you of the great parents you are. You are such a gift to your 3 boys, especially with the way you model your cultural roots in everyday life here in Canada. I have no doubt they will thank you for it!
Felicia Chang is a documentary family photographer who tells stories of families that live their reality with courage and strength, unapologetically. Contact her to find out about how to have your family story documented. You can connect with her at @feliciachangphoto on Instagram or sign up for her newsletter to stay in touch.