What a Wonderful World
Today would have been my Chinese Grandfather, Victor Vancouver’s 105th birthday. Grandpa was a crooner; a celebrated jazz singer in Shanghai back in the 30’s performing at the glamorous Cathay Hotel (now Fairmont Peace Hotel). When the Japanese invaded Shanghai, he returned to Vancouver, Canada, his hometown where he worked for the navy translating code.
Later in his life he had another passion. My Grandfather was an amateur radio (ham radio) guy. On clear and warm summer’s night in Vancouver as a child, I would hear the distinct high pitched sounds of Morse Code coming from the basement of my Grandparents small home on the corner of East 2nd Avenue.
I would go downstairs into the dimly lit room and sit with my Grandfather in front of his rectangular metal amateur radio set upon his large wooden desk. I would ask him who he was talking to, and he would tell me that it was usually a friend from Russia or Japan. I was so intrigued that Grandpa could have friends in such faraway places and that they were easily communicating with a series of dots and dashes.
Grandpa’s call name was “V-E-7-V-C Victor Charlie.” I remember the stacks of postcards — calling cards sent to him by his ham radio friends from different countries around the world, and I would thumb through the postcards and daydream of these incredible places. In many ways, this was the original Social Network.
I often think to myself how much my Grandfather and I are alike in communicating today. Twitter in many ways is the modern day Morse Code. We each have “handles” and tweet in short messages. Every day, when I open my Twitter feed, I’m communicating with new friends from Europe to Asia. It has brought our worlds even closer and our networks even tighter.
I think of my Grandfather and his lifelong passion to communicate with the world, and know I am very much the same today.
My Grandfather had Parkinson’s Disease in the last decade of his life. We set up his amateur radio for him by his bedside where he could listen and translate the messages coming across the airwaves and stay connected to the world. It was very comforting knowing that he was always surrounded by his friends and family near and far, even as the Parkinson’s took over his body but never his mind.
When my Grandfather passed away, I had the daunting yet somehow beautiful task of choosing the music that would be played at his funeral. I selected Louis Armstrong’s “A Wonderful World” because I knew it was one of his favorites as it was also mine. To this day, when I hear that song, I know my Grandpa is with me and smiling down on me.
@LuxeTiffany: Happy Birthday, Grandpa, V-E-7-V-C Victor Charlie. I love you and miss you. This special tweet’s for you.
I see skies of blue….. clouds of white
Bright blessed days….dark sacred nights
And I think to myself …..what a wonderful world.