My Mother Who’d Sucked on the Dry Cakes Secretively, the Words I Couldn’t Say

Regrets of should’ve done more for one’s own loved ones, translated…

On the year my mother turned eighty-two, she had herpes on the left side of her face and was hospitalized, and, I was in Taipei, helping my daughter with her recovery after birth for her second child, I couldn’t go back to Taichung to be with her. As I’d returned back to Taichung, my mother is already out of the hospital, the first look at her in my younger brother’s house, I’d started crying aloud, because the left side of her face had become, so damaged that it’s, disfigured already.

The three years that followed, every time I’d visited her, she’d called out in pain. The after effect of herpes is the pains from the nerve endings, and she’d lost her appetite too, but always hollered out that she was still hungry. In order to increase mom’s appetite, my younger brother prepared different foods every single day, but, she’d often just, took a few small bites, and couldn’t take in anymore food. And I’d also cooked the softer foods, so she could have a different taste.

not my photo…

One evening as I’d gone to visit with my mom, I saw her, sitting on the edge of her bed, sucking on a hard traditional style cake; because she didn’t have good teeth, she couldn’t manage a single bite, and her hand was trembling too. I saw, that that, was the result of feeling the starvations, but I’d not dared ask my younger brother if there are other kinds of foods available, feared that he might believe, that my mother had, poured out her sorrows to me.

I saw how mom was shaking up so much due to hunger, I’d told her, “the way you’re eating won’t satisfy your hunger quickly enough, soak the cakes into water, it’d become softer sooner, and you can eat it sooner.” After my mother heard me, she’d eaten HALF of the hard cakes, then, finally, let out that sigh of satisfaction.

just take one more bite, please!!!  Not my photo…

My mother, who’d been tortured by the pains from her herpes, died four years later, and to date, it’d been, two years since she’d died, I’d never done anything to upset her when she’s alive, but I didn’t do anything kind for her either. And that evening, I saw how hungry my mother became, and didn’t want to wake my younger brother up, just silently, sucked on the hard and dry cakes, the feelings of upset from her treating me unfairly compared to my brother all of a sudden, vanished, and, what replaced all that was, “Mom, I can’t bear to see you so hungry, it’d pains me”. But, I just, never managed these words out. And to this day, whenever I saw how shaken up she was due to hunger, I still couldn’t help it, but start to cry.

So, this, is how watching someone you loved suffer was so difficult, and, seeing her mother shaking from the hunger, had caused this woman to lose ALL those moments of life she felt she was treated so unfairly by her mother, and at that precise moment, she just wanted her mother to feel better, and, she did, make her mother feel better, by making the foods for her, but, she’s still left with the regrets, of saying those words of kindness to her own mother, but, I’m sure, that her mother felt how much her daughter cared for her through the daughter’s actions, because actions ALWAYS speak LOUDER than WORDS!


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