Working Together to Help Each Other Age More Gracefully, Neither Felt Lonely on the Journey of Life

In sickness AND in health, for better or for worse, the dedications, and love this woman had for her husband, now that he’d become, demented, translated…

After I’d married my husband, I’d focused on my family, looking after our three sons, so my husband didn’t have to worry when he’s working.

In his elderly years, after he had surgeries for his colon cancer, he’d changed to a different man, became forgetful, at first, I’d thought it was a normal process of aging, but after I took him to the Alzheimer’s clinic, the doctor diagnosed him as “beginning stage of dementia”.

He’s not completely helpless, going out for strolls in the morning became his way of exercise, I’d often played the game of numbers with him, “Chinese chess” was one of them, I’d picked up any piece and asked him, and he’d answered me correctly, he’d not written as legibly as he used to, but it’s still readable. After he’d started in art, I’d written my love for him on the sides of the papers, took care of him with empathy, just stay beside him.

My kids also took the two of us outdoors often, and he became like an “old baby”, so happy, and, with the help from nature, it’d somehow, slowed down the progressions of his Alzheimer’s.

For this hospitalization for my chemotherapy, I’d run a fever, which caused pneumonia, in my nineteen days of hospital stays, he’d ridden his small bicycle back and forth, on the two hour round trips, never complained, just stayed by my side, it seemed, that he still remembered how much I put in, to care for him for these past six years, and now, he’d not, given up on me either.

The Department of Sanitary Welfare’s Long-Term Care 2.0 was designated for elderly over sixty-five who’d lost the ability to live on their own, which allowed for the four-hour homecare helper, and, we don’t fit the criteria, that was why, there are so many tragedies that’s happened, because of elderly caretaking.

I’d volunteered at the long-term care center on Mondays, helping the elders put on makeup, hoping that putting their lipsticks on can help make them recall, I’d taken the courses provided by the local governments to enrich my knowledge base on helping with my husband’s dementia, and all of these things that I’d done, are to give myself breathing room, a break from having to take care of my demented husband 24/7.

So, this, is once again, from the caretakers’ journals, and, this woman didn’t leave her husband in a nursing home somewhere, because he was there when she went through her hell with her cancer, and now, he’d needed her more than ever, she surely wasn’t going to, desert him in some nursing home either.

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The Taste of Happiness on Thursdays

Hey, save some leftovers for me, will ya??? Translated…

Thursdays are our “family nights”, primarily because my younger brother who’s a pediatrician has a day off, and we can all gather around our parents’ to share some happy times.

My youngest brother who works for a Japanese company, because of how busy his work is, he’d skipped from time to time, and my mother would pack up the leftovers for lunch, then, give it to my younger sister-in-law and my nephew to take it home to him; so the family members missing out, can also have a taste of mom’s love, and the warmth from the family.

On a certain Thursday, I’d needed to work overtime at school, something came up suddenly. As I got home, my son who’d just had supper at his grandparents’ gladly handed me a still warm lunch box, half-jokingly, he’d told me, “this is our left over, saved for you!”, I didn’t believe it. Look, a prawn, three pieces of stewed beef, broccoli with corn, and my favorite, okra. My regrets of not making it home for the gathering meals, suddenly, wiped completely away, by this lunch box, packed with a ton of love.

meal on the table 的圖片結果let’s all sit down for this well-prepared meal here…not my photo…

So, this, is how this family show the love, by sharing the homecooked meals, and, whenever one member can’t make it home, the other members would save some for the individual who’d, skipped out on the meals, and that, is the act of love, that’s experienced by the man who’s a part of this family.

The Lunches My Father Made for Me

Savoring the memories, unforgettable taste of the foods prepared with her father’s love, translated…

In the era where there was NO nutritious meals provided by schools, my lunches were usually made by the cook, dad. He’d often spent Sundays, making the stewed foods, and told me, “the foods that were stewed aren’t afraid of getting steamed again, so long as the sauce is great, the more you’d steamed it, the better it smelled.”

My father was quite generous as he packed the meals for me, a huge piece of meat, the stewed egg with the sauces already marinated in, with the fluffy, soft kelp, the soft tofu, filling up the packed lunch box, opening it up, the aroma spread out! The way I pay my father back was eating until there’s NOTHING left in the lunches he’d packed for me.

查看來源圖片the homemade meals, with an added serving of love…not my photo…

The lunches with the stewed items helped me pass through my middle school and high school years, over two thousand lunches. Even as I’d started working, I’d had that craving of stewed items when I ate out, I’d especially enjoyed watching the owner of the shop, fishing out the items from the large pot, that reminded me of my dad, who’d hummed the Chinese opera tunes as he busied himself about the kitchen when I was younger, although he wasn’t so delicate with handling the foods, but, there’s, a lot of warmth, a lot of love that’s packed in what he’d prepared for us.

Many years later, my father died, and on the day he left us, don’t know who it was that handed me this lunch with stewed items told me, “Finish it all, your father will be happy.” At that very moment, I saw my father, working in the kitchens, it’s just, that I can’t see him clearly, through my tears then.查看來源圖片making his son’s school lunch…photo from online…

After my kids started school, the school provided the lunches, and, “looking up at the blackboard, lowering my head toward my packed lunches” became a private memory. From time to time, I’d stewed up a pot of foods, with the rice, to make that packed up stewed lunch come back through time to me again.

And so, you’d, loved how much heart went into your father’s packing your lunches, and, the food tasted so amazing, because of the amount of love that goes into preparing the lunches, that, is what made you savor those memories so very much, it’s not the foods that made you nostalgic, it’s the feelings of love, feeling of how you were, cared for by your father that’s made the foods unforgettable.

The Last Trip We Took Together…

That last trip we took together, do you remember it? Of course N-O-T! You’d, left us behind a long, long, long time ago. That last trip we took together, it was, our last draw, the final attempt, to save our marriage, and yet, I’d, realized, for certain, that we shouldn’t, stay married together, and, that last trip we took together, turned out, to be the beginning of our divorce!

That last trip we took together, I can vaguely recall the scenes, we went to this beautiful place (that much I know!!!), we thought that this was what our marriage needed, a vacation for just the two of us, without our parents, our relatives or friends, and children, just us two, to sort things through…

like this???  Photo from online…

And yet, that last trip, was like that first domino that led to the tumbling down of the rest of the lined-up straight dominoes! That last trip we took together, what happened to us? Why did we, fall out of love? I mean, our love was, supposed to last for a lifetime, wasn’t it? So, how come it didn’t, huh???

That last trip we took together, well, glad that was over, huh? ‘Cuz I’m no longer married to you, and, I’d never been, happier in my life, on that very last day of this vacation for two, which led to my life of one!!!

The Guerilla Warfare of the Traditional Chinese Buns

To satisfy his own father’s taste buds’ needs, translated…

Dad is NO gourmet expert, but he is, a picky eater. His home was back in Yangzhong, Jiangsu, on the Yangtze River, right in the middle of the Yangtze River; people said, that those who live in the northern side of the river loved foods made with flour, those living in the south loved rice, my father, being right in the middle, enjoyed both.

Of the flour made foods, my father especially loved the plain buns, preferring the plain, unsweetened, handmade Chinese traditional buns. My mother was born in Taiwan, cooking the rice, the noodles were, no problem for her, but she can’t make the buns, and so, my father can only, “seek elsewhere”, whenever someone said that there are delicious handmade buns, no matter how far away, he’d made the trips, he’d trekked all over Younghe, Muzha, and Hsintien. And yet, there are, only, the limited few that managed to make their ways into his mouth, and as he’d bumped into the buns that were tasty, he’d definitely buy them in bulk, and would start eating on the drive home.老爸不是美食家,卻十分挑食。他的老家在江蘇揚中,顧名思義就是揚子江,也就是長江的...illustration from the papers online…

There’s the common thread of all the shops that he’d bought the buns from, the owners were all elderly folks, and would take days off because of their health, and, ended up, going out of business, because there are no younger generations who are willing to, carry on the skill sets. And so, these years, my father became like a guerrilla war fighter, looking for the shops that made the buns that fitted to his taste buds.

One Sunday morn as he went out on his exercises, I’d found a van parked, by the side of a nearby elementary school, with a long line by it, those standing in line were ALL elderly folks, and, it’d carried my father’s favorite, plain buns. After I’d talked to the neighbors, I’d learned, that the owner would show up on Sunday mornings, but because the supply couldn’t match the demands, those who got there late normally went home emptyhanded. The very next week, I got up real early, went there, and, holy, there were, over a dozen people standing before me in the line already! Thankfully, they’d only bought a few, when it came my turn, there are, still some left. In the end, I went home with ten plain Chinese traditional buns, then, I’d, driven them to my dad.

He’d steamed one up that very evening, and said it was cheap and tasty, and ever since, standing in line once every other week became my way of showing him my love. With the weather getting warmer, I’d driven instead of walked to the cart, and one day, I’d received a ticket for parking on the red lines, and, the buns for that day was, super expensive, after I’d calculated in the fines.

Here’s that freshly steamed buns, photo from online…查看來源圖片here’s half a dozen…

One day as I drove past Jingshan S. Road, saw a sign with “Handmade Buns”. I’d searched the shop’s name online as I got home, and learned that the shop owner of this place also produced handmade buns, although it’s, a bit pricy, but the good thing is that it has longer hours, I can go there anytime. The very next day, I’d brought some to dad, and he’d nodded in approval, and I’m more than glad, that in this guerrilla warfare with the Chinese traditional buns, I temporarily, won!

So, this, is the act of love this individual showed to his own father, he knew that his father loved this food, and, found a shop that provided it, and, he’d, gotten his father’s approval for this brand new place that made these traditional Chinese buns.

Remember the Lies…

Remember the lies, seeping through those yellow, tobacco stained teeth of his, don’t you EVER forget that! How awful you’d felt, as he stood there, with his arms folded, making you, swallow them all down (without enough water to wash it all down too!).

Remember the lies, how can you forget them, huh? He’d hurt you, repeatedly, using them, and you’d, allowed him to, ‘cuz you didn’t know how to make them stop!

Remember the lies, of course you do, feel that betrayal of your heart, of your trust, hear that heart of yours, aching in progression, until the pain became, unbearable, and, you will, hurt even more, and for even longer still.

Remember the lies, let them take over your life completely, and, you will forever, be trapped by them, never finding that exit sign ever! He’d had you trapped all right.

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Grandmother’s Tears

The strengths of a mother, in the love for her own son who’d escaped from China for a better life, translated…

She’d Hidden Her Tears So Very Well, Talking to Her Son in His Forties, Whom She Hadn’t Seen Since His Mid-Teens, I’m More than Certain, that It’s Not She Didn’t Cry, But that Her Tears Run Dry………

She’d NEVER Cried a Single Tear in Front of Anyone

That, was a voice they’d waited a lifetime to hear: “Eldest brother, it’s me, Shenling, this time when the eldest sister-in-law came to visit, she’d brought home a ton of gifts and money, we all missed you very much, and hope that next time………”, “Eldest uncle, it’s me, Red………(sob), the followed by the baritone voice, “Ming, when you have days off, do remember to bring the kids home to visit us all.”

Nearly twenty, young and old, men and women, including the nephews that my father never even met, and the only one who’d maintained the stature was my paternal grandmother. She is eighty-five years old, a life-long smoker, didn’t need her glasses as she threaded the needles. She managed to hide her tears so well, talking to her son who’d left home when he was just fifteen, and not seen for forty years on end, I’m more than certain, that it’s not she hadn’t cried, but her tears already, ran dry already.

My father was born in the beautiful, mountainous Guanxi, born in 1927, he was just in time, for the two turbulences of his time, at age fifteen, during the winters, he’d gone to Liouzhou with a classmate, to answer the calls of Chairman Chiang’s “A hundred thousand youth soldiers”. Just as he’d enlisted, as they were on their returns home, his two friends missed home a lot, planned to call home, and think about enlisting, my father recalled what my grandmother told him, “Ming, there’s nothing we can give to you at home, the only thing I’m proud of was that you’d taken the sturdy mind, and the determinations to weather through the hardships of your life. Remember, no matter where you go, you must, make your families proud.” But, enlisting is a road with no returns, he’s already on his way, he shall not make haste. And yet, for a young teen of only fifteen who’s never left home, the day of homecoming is the day of victory, this seemed, a bit, cruel. My father’s tears were dried up by the years, and, waited for forty whole years for his homecoming.她從未在人前掉過一滴眼淚那是等待多年的聲音:「大哥,我是顯林,這次大嫂回來帶...illustration from the papers…

My father was once my grandmother’s good helper, every day after school, he’d gone to chop up the firewood, and rushed before the supper time, hauled the firewood down the mountains to sell, and even if a bundle only went for ten cents. As my grandfather failed in his business venture, he’d vanished too. My grandmother sewed the shoes, raised chickens, tended her vegetable gardens…………but in that era, where it’d become hard for everybody to fend for her/himself, the smaller businesses didn’t last, and, they’d needed to go around the neighborhoods, to beg for a handout to keep the families fed. But, my paternal grandmother never shed a single tear.

Sewing Her Nostalgia, as Well as Her Tears, into the Handmade Shoes for Her Son

My older cousin, because he’s the eldest grandson, he’d gotten to spend most of the time with grandmother, knowing that she’d owned a treasure chest, that she’d taken out and cried to nightly, especially to a photo inside, every time she’d stared at it, she’d always ended up crying. She’d cried so very hard, over the son she’d declared was dead in front of everybody in the villages. Some asked her to erect a tombstone to prove it, “having the parents burying their offspring is already an act against filial piety, why must I announce it to the world?”, then, she’d taken off the stick that bunned her hair up, claimed that she shall kill herself in ramming her head into a tree, thankfully, someone stopped her from it. The villagers pulled back my grandmother who was in tears, and my father was relieved of the curse of being “buried in an empty grave” too.

I’m sure that what saddened my grandmother more, was how easily she’d put on an act, but how hard it was for her to find her son back. That man whom she’d carried inside of her for ten months, the one who’s closest to her heart, her eldest, is he, still alive? She’d hoped, that he would have arrived at the other side of the straits, and living his life now.

The days that followed, at dawn, my grandmother would head up the hills, started tilling up the land, planted the taro, the chestnuts, the yams………carried her homegrown produces down the mountains to sell, the roads were paved with sharpened pebbles, and they’d cut through the soles of her shoes, it’d made her bleed. And, that land wasn’t fit for planting, didn’t give her nearly fifty percent of returns, and, even as the harvest came, the thieves would harvest away all the produce overnight. She’d sighed toward the skies, but never felt defeated. For the sake of her family, she was willing to, walk on the roughest roads. Every evening as night came, she’d worked hard, sewing up the shoes, and every year, she’s always made an extra pair and put it into her treasure chest, that handmade shoes, she’d used her memories, draw and redrawn, altered, then dissembled, she’d managed to sew her own nostalgia for her son into the pairs of silky soft shoes.查看來源圖片homecoming, not my photograph…

Forty years flew by, my grandmother who’d waited for almost half a century managed to get herself up, although she’d lost the support from her husband, and she managed to stand erect and tall in the cannons, and faced the trials of getting hit by the bullets at anytime; even that one of her child is missing, she stayed strong, for all the other offspring who’d needed her.

 

The waiting for an entire lifetime came to an end the price was: my grandfather died in an unmarked grave, my third uncle died of consumption. And yet, if the past decades were call the darkness of night, then, my grandmother’s steady and stable voice, will be that rising sun, out of the horizons over the seas, I suppose.

So, this, is how much a mother missed her son, and, she’d allowed him to go away, because there was NO future for him back home, and she knew, that by sending him away was the only way he could live on, and that, was why this woman sent her own son off, despite how much she’d wanted to keep him by her side. The love of a mother is still, the strongest thing in the world here.