By Haley Wiseman
“I love you as I have never loved before. And all the animals love you too, and the turtles…”
My grandmother Hainya sings while tickling my cousin’s arm at dinner. Her loud voice is clear across the table, like the strong, elegant smell of her Fracas perfume.
My family and I are at Christine Lee’s, a fancy Chinese restaurant that we go to often in Florida. My bubby tickles her grandchildren’s arms and sings out loud anyway. Her eyes smile behind the glittery red Chanel frames.
“They’re vintage, like me.” She responds to every person who sees her. Someone always compliments the glasses. She owns a collection of vintage glasses that vary in color, shape and design. They’re often attached to a jeweled neck chord while they sit on the bridge of her nose and compliment her red lipstick. The glasses aren’t their own accessory but they’re a part of who she is and how she presents herself. Though they’re extravagant, they don’t eclipse her. Her curly blonde hair is always done and her outfits always put together: colorful matching pants and cardigan along with a silk scarf and purse.
My cousin goes to his seat and eats his meal. Hainya takes a sip of her red wine and then yells, “A man cut me off on the highway today and I gave him the finger!” She raises her index finger. “But I know in my heart he’s a nice person,” she finishes her story.
Hainya never has a negative tone about anything or anyone. She thinks that everyone is kind and they’re just having a bad day.
I turn to look at her and find her missing from her seat. Towards the bar area of the restaurant, there’s a woman at a microphone singing Mustang Sally and I see Hainya dancing alone. Her pants and sweater are a soft lavender color, but she still stands out in the middle of the room. Her arms are moving up and down, her eyes are closed and she’s smiling. I get out of my chair and join her.