My mom past away last month when we were very busy of picking coffee. When I was picking, my mind was always occupied by the memories of her, in a peaceful way.
I knew she would leave us someday, no surprise, what surprised me is the way how I took her death.
My father’s death was my first experience of losing a family member, I was 22 and we didn’t know each other very well. I knew who he was, but we never had a heart to heart talk, it’s a pity that he didn’t have a chance to know the adult of me and my younger sister. The hard feeling of losing him was in my heart many years, until on 7th year after his death, I decided to let the sad feeling go, release the pity which I’ve held so tight in my heart for so long. I wrote a letter to him, told him my decision, it’s time to move on with our lives without him.
But with my mom, it’s different. All of my sisters had a chance to love her, respect her, know her and take care of her, we knew her so well, no regrets for the time we had with her.
In 2012 I visited her alone, my aunt ( her elder sister ) came to spent a week with us. I took some videos of them, together they told us their childhood in the village, and stories happened to their lives. In 2013 I visited her again, took care of her in hospital, did my best to help her at that time.
My mom was the youngest child in her family, she had one elder sister and one elder brother. She never had a chance to meet her father, who died early; their mother as a widow was a very strong woman and she never married again; but she managed to raise them alone and had a better living condition than most families in the village. My mom was a good child, her brother and she respected and listened to their mother all the time, my aunt as the eldest child, who argued with their mother often.
After my mom married my dad, she lived in the village with all her kids alone for years, my dad just visited a few times a year for harvesting season or holiday. Later we left the village, moved to live in Han Chinese community. Mom couldn’t speak Chinese, no job, no income, she lived under my father’s male power shadow. But she worked hard around the house, raised chicken and pigs, helped my father with his job. She was so quite, I don’t remember anything she said that stick into my mind at that period of time. In spite of their non-cheerful marriage, mom took care of dad many years until he died.
For few months she lived alone, then my elder brother’s family moved in, they wanted to take care her and my younger sister and me. We were still single girls, so elder brother should be in charge of our family, but we both had small jobs in town. It didn’t go well and didn’t last for two years; they didn’t treat mom with respect even she was the one do all the cooking, washing, gardening. When the rubber farm wanted every household buy the rooms they were living in, my brother bought it and moved mom out from her room to a shack. At that time, four of us girls were working outside of the camp, didn’t know anything about it. Until I went back on weekend and found it out, mom had cried for three days. I was so angry but I couldn’t bring myself to start an argument with my elder brother. As sisters, we couldn’t forgive him for treating mom so bad. My younger sister was the one who had a big argument with them after she got back, with her powerful verbal expression fought back.
There was a family wanted to sell their place in the camp, they were living in town. Luckily I had a pretty well paid job at that time, my two months salary paid for it, and my sisters and I had fun to clean up and furnish our new home. It has four rooms inside the front two stories building, one big room as kitchen and dining room on the back, a one story building, and attached a shower room outside. I was 24 and I was very happy to be able to help my family, to provide a trouble-less life to mom. Ever since then, mom had a pretty good life with all her daughters’ love and respect, she became the center of our family.
In these 16 years, we found out that our mother was a very wise woman, her wisdom just didn’t have a chance to shine before; and her ability of accepting new things were far ahead than other same age people.
Only women lived in our house, except one of my brothers in law visited us sometimes. We were laughing, singing a lot, no argument among us but very good communications. We all had our own freedom, physically and mentally, it was a happy and joyful life, a very good life.
Our next door neighbor bought the first stereo system in the camp, they played popular music loudly in the camp, it sounds so good and the whole community enjoyed it. So I bought the same brand of stereo system, we girls sang Karaoke sometimes, often other people joined us too. I bought some English song video, it was the first time that my mom was exposed to English music. She liked Michael Borden’s song, Ciline Dion’s “The Power of Love”, and Michael Jackson’s songs, especially the “Earth Song”. She thought that Michael Jackson was a talented genius, it would take a hundred years to have someone like him to be born into this world.
For TV series shows, she liked western countries show, people kissing and hugging a lot between families and friends in the show. So my sisters, niece and nephews started to hug her and say “I love you” to her all the time. I believe we were the only family doing that to express our love in the community.
In 2000, I asked mom if there were any place she liked to go and see, she told me that Beijing would be the only place. So I took her on that trip through a travel agency, tried different transpositions, plane, train, boat. She liked taking an plane, and asked me to buy airplane tickets all the way to home when we returned. On that trip, I found out how playful and enthusiasm traveler she was; in another hand, I was the boring one.
We spent two days on sea side, one morning we got up early to see sunrise and saw some locals were collecting sea weeds. Even those peoples couldn’t understand her pigeon Chinese, she watched and tried to collect sea weed for them. At day time, we walked on the sand, she collected sea shell, or played running and chasing game with ocean wave, like a very young kid playing at beach.
We climbed The Great Wall, she wanted to go further than I would, she had more energy than I had. If we stopped at a temple, she insisted to put some money into the donation box; if we visited any emperor’s tomb, she insisted to leave some coin there, like other tourists; if we stopped at a shop, she wanted to buy souvenir, at least one thing.
I liked to tell mom things happened around me, or stories I read, she was a good listener and thinker. We often exchanged our opinions, her opinions led me and guided me to see different point of views, I learned a lot from her. Some of our conversations were so important to me, I will never forget them.
I met Terry in 2000, in the hand of our fate, I became his trekking guide for three weeks, we visited some tribal villages. By this accident, I kept trekking guide as my career for next three years, a guide with freedom just worked for myself.
Only a crazy man like Terry would proposing to me at three weeks after we met, of course my answer to him was “no”. I’d never thought of choosing a foreigner as my husband, and he was so much older than me. Terry respected my decision and wished that I would find a good young Chinese man some day, we remained as friends, he sent letters and e-mails to me. From him, I learned that I could be a special person to someone, and I was the special one to him. Thinking about the short times we traveled together, I couldn’t find anything about him which I disliked. The way he walked into villagers’ low house, the way he sat at dining table, tried everything on the table, drank local brewed alcohol with hosts, his body language showed his humble attitude and respect to villagers. I knew he is a very gentle and kind person.
My mom and two sisters met Terry one time that year. It was Water Splash Festival, I invited him to our apartment in town for lunch with my family. Because he couldn’t speak or understand Chinese, a few times of funny misunderstanding things happened on the dining table, we all laughed and couldn’t stop, including Terry himself.
Many months later after that, I told mom about Terry and what he wrote in his letter. She asked me: ” What are you expecting from your marriage?”
I told her, ” I don’t know.”
Then mom said: “You better don’t think if you married, then your life is locked into a safety deposit box, don’t expect your husband will take care of you until you die. There are so many unexpected things could happen in life, your husband could die early or you; or divorce, your two sisters both divorced. Even your dad and my ages are close, I took care of him until he died. Even the man (Terry) is not young, but he looks very healthy. If he loves you, and you like him and love him, even you only could have 5 years happy life together, it’s worth to try.”
After that conversation, I knew what I wanted from my marriage, someone to love and to be loved dearly, cherish every single days of our life together. I made up my mind, I would try to get know Terry more and look forward to see him again next year. Now we’ve lived more than 3 x 5 years happy life together, thanks mom for her wise advise.
I think that most parents love their child, but not every parents naturally know how to raise their child with gentle love, they need someone to guide to become a good parent. I had no experience of raising a child before, Terry and my mom were the best teachers of mine to be more patient with Sonny.
When Sonny was a little over 1 year old, often he got himself wet or dirty around the house. I was very easy losing my patient with him when I saw the mess he made, then I would shouted at him, or spank his butt; he didn’t understand me, but he screamed back at me. I saw the problem, I was not a good model to my son, my action were bad examples to him. Parents are their children’ first teachers, often the child learn good or bad habits from their parents. I told Terry my problem, and I didn’t like what would come out from that. He asked me to let him know whenever I lose my patient, let him to handle the situation.
One day I talked to my mom on the phone about it, she said to me, ” I know you love your son. It doesn’t matter how much you love him, if you hit him, he might still remember it when he grow up, even he can’t remember why you hit him. It’s sure bad for your relationship with your child, even you love each other. I didn’t hit any of you girls when you were young, because it could hurt me too.”
After that conversation with my mom, I improved my behave with Terry’s help. Even today I can remember so clearly, Sonny gradually stopped scream at me, and it makes me a happier mother too.
My mom and niece
In spite of I live so far away from my mom, we often talked on phone, video chat every two weeks in last two years, there were no distance between us. The day before my mom fell, I talked to her and she sounded very well. She had only spent a week in hospital before she past away, I talked to my sisters every day to check her condition. My sister told me that mom had such strong will to live, she fought so hard with death at beginning; later she realized her body couldn’t make it, so she seemed calmer and died peacefully.
It’s so hard to believe that she is not there anymore, I won’t be able to see her and talk to her anymore. I wasn’t there in front of her death bed, I didn’t see how slowly she became weaker and weaker. Her only image in my mind is the strong but gentle mother, the wisest woman I’ve ever knew. Now she doesn’t suffer anymore with her physical condition, I wish her spirit is in a happy, peaceful place, watching over her children and giving them her blessing. I’m in peace too, because we well spent these 16 years to love each other as mother and daughter, we didn’t waste the time of our life.
Mom, thank you to be this amazing woman, to be our wonderful mother. If there is another life time, please let me to be your child again. I love you, and I will always love you; you’ll live in my heart and mind for ever.