Memoirs: Thread of Life
Updated: Nov 17, 2020
A few years ago, I won the People’s Choice Award at the Summerland Art Gallery for the clay mural pictured here. The mural depicts the three countries that have impacted my life – China, land of my ancestors, Jamaica, where I was born and lived for twenty-four years, and Canada, where I chose to spend the rest of my life.
The left panel shows the rice paddies of China and is presented in monochrome to reflect the distant past.
My parents left the small Hakka village called Gai Gung Meow (Rooster Temple) in Guangdong Province in the 1920’s to find a more prosperous life in Jamaica. They brought with them and tried to instill in their children the customs from the old country – some of these still remain with me today, a pragmatic outlook on life, diligence in work habits, and of course, the Hakka style of cooking.
The middle panel represents Jamaica with sunny skies, turquoise waters, sandy beaches, sailboat, and banana and castor oil plants. I cannot truthfully say that I absorbed the whole kit and caboodle of Jamaican culture. I enjoy the rhythm of the calypsos, the spicy dishes, the generous people who welcome you into their homes without need of invitation, and oh yes, I like to laugh, sing and dance!
The right panel is the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia where my husband, Clinton, and I, our two children, and four granddaughters now live.
In 1965, we chose to immigrate to Canada, though we were offered an opportunity to work in Jamaica and could have gone to Australia or elsewhere. Clinton had just finished his doctorate in Chemistry at Oxford and was offered a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Alberta, so Edmonton was our first stop.
In 1976, we bought and operated a hardware store in Fort St. James (Northern British Columbia) - I guess the shopkeeper’s blood still ran in our veins.
In 1991, we retired to the Okanagan where vineyards and fruit orchards abound and the Okanagan Lake reminds me of Montego Bay where I grew up. A mythical serpent, Ogopogo, inhabits the lake and many profess to have seen it.
A blood-red cord runs through and ties the three panels together, hence the title of the piece: “Thread of Life”. Chinese symbolism is represented by the water buffalo (hard work), the turtle (longevity), and the dragon replaces the local Ogopogo. After all, I am lung dit chun ngin – a descendant of the dragon.
Enid Louise Chin Kelowna, B.C.