At an Irish-American Funeral Home, I Found My Chinese Roots

Just Blocks Away From the Blarney Stone Pub, Buddhist Nuns Helped My Family Lay My Grandmother to Rest in San Francisco

At an Irish-American Funeral Home I Found My Chinese Roots

In a room filled with wreaths bearing Chinese characters on broad ribbons, two Buddhist nuns in embroidered yellow robes started chanting and striking bells. One by one, members of my family, each with a black band tied around an arm, approached my grandmother’s casket. Each of us held a smoldering joss stick between prayer hands and bowed three times in respect.

We approached the casket in order of age and gender (men first): my grandfather, my Uncle Charles, my Uncle Eddy, my Aunt Alice, me (representing my mom), and my cousin, …

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