Discovering Family in Argentina

Audrey and Oma

Q: What’s the proper way to greet family you’ve never met before?A: In Argentina: with kisses, warmth -- and a heck of a lot of steak.Earlier this year, with a visit to relatives in Argentina only days away, I received my first email in Spanish from my grandmother. This may not sound noteworthy, but the fact that she wrote it in her mother tongue transformed … [Read more...]

Saying Goodbye, Celebrating Life


Last week my grandmother died. She lived a long, full life to the age of 92 and she died peacefully. The news was not surprising, but it arrived earlier than I had expected. When it finally began to sink in, I cried.Then I wrote a few things in order to unpack and process my feelings – about saying goodbye to loved ones, enjoying them while they are alive, and … [Read more...]

Life Happened on the Way to the Piñata Factory

The other day we broke down in Guatemala City -- in front of a piñata factory no less.I helped push the stalled PT Cruiser whose motor had knocked, pinged and spoken of better days. Back then forward, we rolled the car out of traffic and into a parking lot.Guatemala City is notorious for guns, violence, drugs, blighted neighborhoods and danger lurking around … [Read more...]

The Search for Grandfather’s House, Part Two

Scott Compound in Tsingtao

The new house, commanding magnificent views of open sea and bathing beaches, and mountains and forest gardens, and houses. North of the Iltis Huk church, at foot of the big hill, on south slope. Wish you could enjoy it soon with us. Big love, Daddy -- a note on the back of a photo of the house in Qingdao, China, written by my great-grandfather to one of his children … [Read more...]

The Meaning of Family in Kyrgyzstan

What we call “extended family” or “distant relatives” in America is simply called "family" in Kyrgyzstan. And they mean it, too. When we stayed with a Kyrgyz-American family in Bishkek, we noticed how grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles and other family members would swing by the house almost every day, fluidly entering and exiting. The volume and pace of family … [Read more...]

To Grandfather’s House We Go

We’re headed next to Qingdao to look for my grandfather's birthplace and the house my great-grandparents built. --explaining our travel plans in China to a group of expats at a Thanksgiving dinner in Beijing.The group appeared utterly confused. I don’t look like I’m of Chinese heritage in the least. So how is it that my grandfather was born in China? … [Read more...]