Obviously everyone who knew Henry Yee had a different experience and he did so much work with so many different organizations.. but to just list things is not what I am going to do. I'm just going to say what I saw and others who want to share their memories are welcome to write in, comment, or if you want to become a contributor let's work together.
I know Henry Yee mostly from his work in the Kung Fu Federation, of which I am semi- separated from...but also spiritually a part of, and so that's how I was going to this funeral, under that banner. Initially I thought I would just go myself, but as it turned out, the Federation was doing a lion dance for the funeral, something I have never even seen, and as one member put it, "I think Mr. Yee would have like that."
We really have to thank Ken Wong and Wong Keurng for pulling the shirts and the funeral lion head together. And like I said, since I had never seen it, this was one instance where I didn't really know what to do. In fact all I did was stand in the back. But being together like that, with black Federation shirts on, it felt strong. It was a strong showing for a group that Yee ji jik started with Chan Bak Fan. I've been thinking a lot about them this week, and how it's a lot more fun to do whatever work, community, activism Federation, if you are doing this with a friend. It makes work kind of social and fun. I didn't get that when I was younger, but as I get older I sort of see that.
Pretty much I wasn't a part of any of the preparation, I just showed up and stood in the back. I recognized Henry Yee's grandchildren that I went to Kwong Kow with. and we slowly followed the lion head in as it mournfully went over and bowed at the altar, and then again at his body and circled around and went out. Then we all went in and paid our respects as a group, bowing with lit incense two by two and then bowing by the body two by two. Jing told Yee Ji jik who was paying respects to him out loud. and then we went to the family.
I don't think that Henry Yee's wife really recognized me. I can't be sure. In fact, in life it wasn't until recently that Henry Yee started to recognize me. I mean if I was at the school it was like oh yeah this guy, but then on the street I was some white guy. But recently as I did more stuff in the community, at the St. Francis House meeting that sort of thing, we would laugh and wag his finger at me like, "I know you.... YOU... you need to continue doing stuff for the community. the next generation.. etc."
But I am used to people not recognizing me out of context.
Jing was crying, Mai Du was crying, and I felt pretty sad even though he was so old.
And as I met other members of the community there was a strong invigorating.. I don't know, suddenly I felt again like the Federation DOES matter, the different organizations community work that Henry Yee started and worked with DO matter. Not like, "Good job, you will be missed" like all the politicians write, but instead, Man I don't care if I don't agree with every little detail of what the CPA stands for or if I should or should not get more involved with the other organizations.. I am totally going to start doing the work he was doing to carry it on, to prove a point.. not out of love.. but out of spite.. like Ha, Henry Yee is even stronger now, there are more little flyers going up, more work being done... Why the anger? Well I'll get into that another time.
Well I have more to write about the Ceremony of the Lion Dance and how it felt and what it meant... next post. Next post.