Gung Gung, my dear grandpa, passed on September 5th, 2020. Noah, the most loving grandchild one could ask for, is compiling a collection of photos and videos with Gung Gung. Though a learning photographer, I deeply regret not taking more photos while I lived with him. So, writing the memories down to the best of my recollection is what I will try to do well…
The year of living in the presence of Gung Gung’s love began before I even moved to California. In December 2018, I received a gift still so generous and unfathomable to me: a check for $10,000. My giving grandpa wanted to ensure that the process of leaving college and moving to a new state was financially supported and feasible. Tears flowed the minute I grasped the weight of this gift. The gentle giver. He always was.
During the moving process, he was the most welcoming, flexible host – always willing to plan and pay for meal times. I never lacked good food while living with Gung Gung – especially Asian food.
I can recall several times when Gung Gung, Popo, and I were deciding where to eat, and Gung Gung would always gently push for the more authentic Asian restaurants. In the food department, Gung Gung was a risk-taker. Wow, what a blessed grandchild I was, tasting all these amazing Asian flavors. He’d take Popo, the Lums, and I for Shabu Shabu every so often and would call one particular restaurant “yuppy,” due to its blaring pop music and twenty-somethings crowd.
Restaurant meals with Gung Gung was something I was already accustomed to because I had grown up with this during family vacations. However, cooking for and eating with Gung Gung in the comfort of my own home was a completely new, blessed experience. Sometimes, we would prepare a delicious Popo meal, complete with sticky rice, bok choy, and Chinese sausages. Other times, we would eat one of my delivered, prepped-to-cook meals called Sun Basket. Whenever we would eat a Sun Basket, Gung Gung would warmly chuckle and comment on the “exotic-ness” of the flavors and sauces. Oh, the conversations we would have at dinner. Often, he would let me discuss my day and listen so well. Sometimes, he would enlighten Popo and I with a discovery or a question he had come across in his research project. Other times, he and Popo would share stories of their childhood upbringing or early years together. Most week nights would usually end with Gung Gung declaring, “Well, I think I’ll turn in early tonight.” He always took his bath while dinner was being prepared, and he knew that Popo and I would most likely watch a dramatic “Downton Abbey” or “Anne with an E” episode, which he politely would not watch with us due to the emotional, cinematic content these kinds of shows are known for. As Popo and I relaxed to our show or movie, a small, gentle voice would often enter, asking, “How about a little dessert, Sylvie?” We would pause accordingly and savor some ice cream, cookies, or sometimes rice krispies that Popo and I had made.
The topic of food brings up so many memories. Though Gung Gung’s health and energy level were poor for the entirety of my year with him, he never allowed this to get in the way of making his friends and family feel loved and cared for. Just one instance is when I joined him, Popo, and their dear friends Hugh and Norma for a “mini” (if there is such a thing) Chinese banquet luncheon. There was an immediate awareness of the deep care, love, respect, and interest these friends shared for one another. Gung Gung knew just what to ask, just when to listen, and just how to respond. A good meal and conversation (mixed with the perfect listening ear) was always Gung Gung’s love language.
Music was another major love language I saw in him. One fond memory I have is watching Gung Gung sing in his church choir concerts. The last concert I attended, he continued to warn me that he would be standing in the “old men” section, due to his wavering health. Gung Gung never complained, but I knew the way he kept mentioning this alluded to his longing for younger times. His devotion to the choir – to brothers and sisters whose hearts yearned to praise their Father – inspired and encouraged Popo and I.
Oh, Popo. How she loved Gung Gung. How Gung Gung loved Popo. I have never so personally witnessed a more godly marriage. No matter how much Popo dreamed of travelling or satisfying her own interests, her heart, mind, and body would not leave Gung Gung’s side. In turn, Gung Gung addressed Popo in the purest, most gentle manner. When he wanted something, a strong command was just not in his vocabulary. (Even when he would speak to Google Home, the Google voice would always respond with immense gratitude for Gung Gung’s politeness: “Thank you for asking so nicely. [Previously mentioned request] coming right up.”) What a gift it was to live with a couple who knew what it meant to put Jesus first – before themselves and before each other. Thank you, Lord.
Though Trinity is Popo and Gung Gung’s longtime church home, they willingly and joyfully wanted to visit my newfound church home in Santa Ana, Newsong. As soon as service ended and everyone congregated in the courtyard for fellowship, Gung Gung spotted my new friends Tobi and Rachel and immediately approached them with a grin: “You two are the couple that Megan photographed, aren’t you?” It felt so right, affirmed, and natural that my grandpa would befriend newfound hearts I knew would become true, fast friends.
Gung Gung always showed such interest in the people I met and the experiences I lived. At Mom365 – though a short-lived job – I found a special friend in my trainer, Elham, a 40-something-year-old Muslim woman who cared more about my well-being than my job status. Gung Gung loved the motherly way she had taken it upon herself to care for me. Later, when I worked at Starbucks, I remember feeling tired, dirty, smelling like old milk (sorry for the vivid image) behind the bar, then suddenly feeling elated and cheerful when I looked out and saw two smiling, wise faces: Popo and Gung Gung. During my break, I was able to sit with them as they sipped their coffee-alternative drinks. We didn’t speak much in that noisy, bustling café, but I remember Gung Gung jusrt taking it all in – chuckling and grinning. These two were not coffee-shop-going folk, so it meant the world to see them visit this hopping, often stressful work environment that must have felt very strange for them. This was Gung Gung’s love: he went out of his way to help me feel home, loved.
While I was away visiting my Colorado family during Thanksgiving, my sweet grandparents decided to put up the Christmas lights. At their age and in their condition, it had previously been decided that I would help put the lights up – but Gung Gung wanted to surprise me. Just another act of our Father’s love shining through him.
The latest, sweetest memory I have is when Gung Gung and I sat quietly at the table together – a scene that played many times that year, but was especially memorable this ime as it was soon before I moved back to Colorado. Gung Gung had long known and prayed for my heart’s desires, fears, hopes, and obstacles, so what he said in this moment meant the world and more: “You are such a special girl, Megan. Just hang in there […]”
Throughout all my time spent with my grandpa/Gung Gung, David Chang, I have known him to be a humble, generous, compassionate, man after Jesus’ own heart. All who have known Gung Gung echo this. I believe what he wants now is for his friends and family to carry on his servant’s heart. Though the wisest, most intelligent man I have ever known, Gung Gung had a childlike faith in his Creator and the plan He had for us.
Jesus, help us to follow in your footsteps, just as my grandpa did so beautifully. Thank you for Gung Gung.