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J. Gee (1913-1975)

In my family, there was a woman who knew how to fly. She had been pushed by a man, or perhaps the man’s wife, or perhaps the wife’s children, small fingers keen on seeing her fall. Her own daughter had been asleep when she stepped onto the balcony which might have a ledge which might have been a rooftop. Her daughter might have been a son who might have been my half uncle, which would make the woman not related to me at all. Her story traveled through my family like a hungry ghost—she was a secret no one wanted to keep. Because we were not related by blood, she should not matter to me. I took my husband’s last name which was the same as her maiden name. When asked, I say I married into her story.


M. Gee (1923-2013)

Picture her lying in a grassy field, eyes cast to the sky. Dark hair, dark skin. Chink. In a few years there will be a war, the second one, and she will be flying Spitfires for America, training bomber gunners, though white farmers won’t believe her, will want to spear her with their pitchforks just in case. Chink. The name-calling doesn’t bother her, well, maybe sometimes. I’ll offer this right now—we are not related by blood. On Saturday trips as a child to the Oakland airfield, this Gee sits and waits for one plane to fly overhead and when it does, she raises an arm and furiously waves. Amelia! It’s Maggie! The blond woman in the cockpit waves at the young girl, zooms on. 


B. Gee (1937-2015)

I am not related by blood to my husband. Not to my brother-in-law, my sister-in-law, my father-in-law, my mother-in-law. A stroke of a pen and I became a paper name with little weight, a feather not attached to body, skin or bone. I can use it but it is not mine. What is my husband but family to me? One year, my mother-in-law wanted a picture with only Gee blood. She asked my brother-in-law’s wife and me to step out of the frame, to separate ourselves from our husbands and children. There, patriarch and matriarch with their progeny. When I said, But Betty, you’re not Gee blood either, she blinked when the shutter clicked. 


D. Gee (1968- )

I gave up my children when we wrote their father’s name on the birth certificates. My children were not my children. There were times this came in handy (one smashed car, multiple screaming meltdowns, scary illnesses) but with one child flown, another about to fledge, a third still in the nest, I wonder. Of the five of us, only I was not born with this name. I am not a Gee by blood and yet this is the name I said yes to, the name I write on every form and at the bottom of every check. I will take this family if they will have me, and even if they won’t, even if they’re on the furthest branches of the family tree and my own wings can’t carry me there, I will take them. Blood or no blood, I would like to call them all mine.  




Darien Hsu Gee is the author of five novels published by Penguin Random House that have been translated into eleven languages. She received a 2019 Poetry Society of America’s Chapbook Fellowship award for Other Small Histories and a 2015 Hawai‘i Book Publishers’ Ka Palapala Poʻokela Award of Excellence for her nonfiction book, Writing the Hawai‘i Memoir. Darien lives with her family on the island of Hawaiʻi.

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