Well, I survived today’s interview with Tiffany Rae Reid, hostess of Mixed Race Radio in Columbus, New Jersey. It may have been the thousands of kilometers betwixt our telephone numbers that had the butterflies dancing a frenzied tango in my stomach –or perhaps it was the status of some of the well-known celebrities she’d interviewed previously. But Tiffany’s warm friendly voice calmed the butterflies to the point where I found myself babbling about childhood recollections, such as when my dad who was hearing impaired and unable to hunt, would trade vegetables to First Nations neighbors for moose meat. These gentlemen would linger for hours sipping cups of Mom’s homemade raisin wine, while relating horror stories about their experiences during the Second World War. My brother and I would listen fascinated.
I sometimes wondered if Mom, who’d been raised in an orphanage and was as dark-complexioned as they were, may have been Métis. Her mother had been a red-haired, blue-eyed Englishwoman. The only other visible minority I knew of were the families of Japanese descent who’d been interred to the BC Interior from their homes and businesses at the Coast. I had never known a single person of Chinese ancestry. And my mother- who’d been conditioned since childhood to be silent about her father’s Chinese heritage – never did let the cat out of the bag. She had passed away in 1985.
Tiffany explained that she’d used a “snoop” computer program to track me down. The snoop had picked up on a two-year-old newspaper article written by Rebecca Billard for the Lakes District News, which had informed readers about my research into the hitherto-forth secretive life of my maternal grandmother. Upon learning that my grandfather had indeed been of Chinese descent (from Hoiping County near Canton) I’d decided to share what I knew of my grandmother’s life-history in a fictionalized biography titled “Common Threads.” The title was from a poem I’d written previously.
My grandfather was
when I was
That the tapestry
of my ancestry
with silk robed
sipping green tea and
also mine…D. Ray 1998
For anyone wishing to listen to 45 minutes of my blathering, the link is at: