“The root,” as they say.

The root of home, that is.  The village where my father was born, and lived until he was sixteen years old — at which point, he left for school.  He only returned once, after that.  Right before leaving for the Air Force academy. I’m still getting the details straightened out. My dad didn’t like talking about his early years, and now he’s gone.  It’s like playing catch-up with a ghost.

My wife and I drove to Zhang Gou Zhen Daxichun in Funing County, Jiangsu Province.  It was a spur of the moment trip, on our way to Beijing.  The village was deep in the country.  Many winding roads.  My dad needed to take a boat to leave his village, way back when.

The older people there remembered my dad, partially because he was considered a war hero for the KMT, and partially because he was the first pilot from that county.  We met his — my — relatives.  My dad’s cousin.  I could see the similarities in their faces, and that was eerie.

The world has changed so much over the last seventy years.  In many places, it would be impossible to return to the location of your dad’s birth and find it virtually the same, with a whole town that remembers your dad, or at least, knows of him.  The idea itself would be unimaginable.

But that’s what I found.  For more than five hundred years, my dad’s family lived in that village.  They still live there.  Might be another five hundred years, living there.  Talk about roots.

I’ll have more thoughts about it later.  I’m still digesting the experience.

Leave a Reply