This November my parents will celebrate their 25th year in Canada. For two and a half decades, they have lived out their retirement dream in a quiet Toronto suburb, a world away from the humdrum city life they left behind in Hong Kong. Scattered around the world, their five children and half-dozen grandchildren take turns visiting them. I, for instance, take the 16-hour trans-Pacific flight from Hong Kong to spend a week with them every winter. In their house, they have kept my room the way I left it 15 years ago. When I go to the kitchen, I will see my name written on the wall calendar in bright red ink, with a squiggly line that runs across the days of my visit.
My mom and her two oldest children, taken in 1965
When I am in Hong Kong, I am supposed to call my parents twice a month. There is always an excuse not to: the twelve-hour time difference (or is it thirteen?), my travel schedule, a writing streak that cannot be interrupted. It doesn’t bother my dad nearly as much as it does my mom. Indeed, every phone call she picks up begins with the same question: “Why do you never call?” To make up for it, I try to buy her something nice each time I see her...