Remembering, and living in the love, of one’s mother-in-law, keeping her memories fresh, while making new memories with the ones you love, translated…
At the start of July, 2000, a few short days after we’d arrived in Taiwan, my mother-in-law took me to Taipei, to visit her third youngest brother who was ill. My husband drove us, on the way, I’d not shared too many words with my mother-in-law, because I can’t understand Taiwanese, and my mother-in-law can’t understand Mandarin, and, we’d relied on my husband to work as a “translator”. After visiting the third uncle, my husband’s eldest uncle showed us hospitality, back then I was pregnant, and my husband’s eldest uncle worried that I may have been too tired already, and insisted that we’d stayed with them for one evening.
the Queen’s Head from the earlier years before, photo from online…
The very next day, my husband’s eldest uncle took us to the geology park of Yeliou on the northern coast, the beach wasn’t populated, we could get close, to touch the Queen’s Head rock formation. My mother-in-law and stood together for a photograph by the head, it was, the one and only photo of us, on a trip together, it was also, the last and final one we’d shared. Four years after this, my in-laws both died in an accidental fire at home, my husband, I, and our two young children were able to get away without a scratch on us.
I will always remember the instance that my mother-in-law gave me half-a-million dollars N.T., she’d ridden her motorcycle to the Farmers’ Union, withdrew the cash, then, rode me to the post office. Back then, I’d had yet to become a citizen, so I didn’t have my national identification card, after my child was born, my husband left for work in China. My mother-in-law handed me a bank deposit book of my husband’s, told me, that this, was especially for me, told me not to give it to my husband. My mother-in-law is illiterate, couldn’t write, but she’d understood, that for a woman who’d left home behind, married abroad, without any kin to watch out for her, money is the thing that will make her feel the most secure.
My mother-in-law had me fill out the forms, then, carefully, handed the five stacks of bills to the clerk, tears filled my eyes, right then and there. That was, the wages that my mother-in-law earned from her hard work at the chicken farms, it was also a show of her love, and her trust for me too.
In 2014, we’d gone as a family to Keelung to visit friends, and although by then, I was already a mother of three. Our friend who’s an owner of a restaurant prepared a table full of delicious foods for us, and took us to Yeliou to visit again. I was overcome with a mixture of emotions, as I’d set foot onto the northern shores fourteen years later. The same blue oceans, the same rocky coastlines, but, people are, no longer the same, the two uncles had, passed because of illnesses, and my mother-in-law, left us a long time ago, and, my affinity with my mother-in-law only lasted, but four short years.
a more eroded off photo of the Queen’s Head from online…
Back then, it was, the height of the tourists from China, there was a crowd on the Northern coastlines. In order to get our photos with the Queen’s Head, my youngest and I stood in the long line, and, we’d baked, for forty WHOLE minutes underneath that scorching sun. My husband nagged on continually, “It’s just the Queen’s Head? And, you’re willing to, BAKE under the sun for FORTY whole minutes? You must be CRAZY!”, my husband didn’t understand why I was so passionate about taking this youngest son whom his grandmother never had the chance to meet, to stand for forty minutes underneath the scorching he3at, to get a photo with the Queen’s head rock formation.
It’s all because fourteen years ago, my mother-in-law and I, stood here to, while I was also pregnant, it wasn’t for the photo with the Queen’s head, but I just wanted to, help keep the memories, of my mother-in-law still alive and well, even if, it was, just for a miniscule of a moment.
So, this, is memorializing someone you loved dearly, and, your mother-in-law was extremely kind to you, she’d loved you like you were her own child, and, it’s hard, to find mothers-in-law who loved their daughters-in-law like that these days, and, going to the place where the two of you got your photos together, was a way, of keeping your mother-in-law’s love fresh inside your mind.