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The Ancestors
by Patrick

I was raised in Laos by my mother and her family. Since my parents had always had a bad relationship they divorced shortly after my birth, and since my father was a foreigner I never had more than a passing relationship with him or his family and that fact sometimes made me sad.

In my hometown I would often pass by the house of a certain friend and when she wasn't there I sometimes saw an old couple that would smile kindly at me and wave. A detail I remember well about the woman is that she always wore a pair of coral earrings shaped like roses. I was very small and although I was curious about the old couple I assumed they were my friend's relatives and didn't worry too much about them. I remember I once asked my friend about the couple but she didn't seem to know what I was talking about and I didn't worry too much about it although their faces made an impression on me.

When I was about five years old my uncle sponsored my family and we were able to move to the United States where we settled in El Monte California. The strange thing is that I continued to see the old couple every once in a while. I would see them sometimes at the market or taking a walk but each time I saw them for one reason or another I wasn't able to speak to them they were always a little bit too far. I thought I must be seeing things or that maybe the old people had common faces that I was mistaking everywhere. Anyway, after a certain age I no longer saw the old couple and I stopped giving them thought until many years later when I visited my father's sister in Chinatown for the first time and immediately noticed an elaborately framed photograph of two young people on their wedding day.

The sight of the picture made me catch my breath. The woman was wearing the same earrings that I had seen on the old woman and she had the same expression in her eyes. My aunt says that it's a picture of my grandparents and I guess I'll always wonder if my grandparents spirits felt sorry for me because I didn't have a father and if they watched over me as a result.