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.

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A Ten-Day Trip Around the Island with Mom

The thoughts that goes into this trip around the island, her kids’ thoughtfulness of keeping her body as fit as it can become, translated…

My friend Yun started having changes in her body awhile ago, her left side started becoming lethargic and weak, and after she’d gone through the health exams, it was Parkinson’s in the starting stages, this made all of her three teenagers in puberty become adults overnight.

The youngest son started hanging out the clothes before he goes off to school in the morn, the youngest daughter started cleaning up the kitchens, and the eldest just entered into college, he’d used his summers to find outings to take her traveling around the island. I hadn’t seen Yun in over a year now, she’d shared with me everything she’d felt in their journeys together, I was in awe at how much love they had for one another, facing the trials of their lives, and, her happiness was, redefined by her illness too.

查看來源圖片one way to do it…by bicycle…not my photo…

Yun told me, she’d dreamed about traveling around the island for long. She’d originally wanted to bicycle around the island, but her illness caused her to lose her agility, the doctor recommended that she could walk more to help build up her muscle strengths, and after her eldest son learned this, he’d taken her around the island by foot, and insisted that they walk twenty kilometers a day.

“The first day, I’d never walked as much, by the time I got to the hotel at night, I’d fallen limp, the very next day my son asked if I was all right? That if I could walk some more, I’d told him I can, but my body told me otherwise, then, I’d walked for about an hour, and, collapsed, and so, my son took me by a cab to the hotel we were supposed to stay in on the second day. He’d told me, with his eye all red, “Never lie to me again, don’t make me worry, we must, face this bravely, okay?”, and that, was the moment I knew, that my son, is a man.

As they walked to Sanyi, Yun’s husband dropped off some stewed beef to them. The eldest son still adjusted the distance they’re to walk based off of Yun’s physical wellbeing, he’d even done Yun’s laundry too!

or by foot, not my photo…徒步環島 的圖片結果

Trekking the island for ten days was not just for Yun’s overall health, but it was an opportunity for Yun and her son to establish their connection. She’d smiled, with tears circling in her eyes, “Don’t know how long my life will be? Or how I will deteriorate? I’d not worried about that just yet, I can only take advantage of the present, especially, with the love of my husband and kids, they’re what keeps me moving, I’m truly grateful, and fulfilled!”

So, this woman’s sons were very kind and understand, and they did all they could, to help their mother maintain her physical ability, and, her illness became a blessing in disguise, because it brought her and her loved ones closer together.

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.

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.

On Forgiving Those Parents of Ours, for Damaging Us When We Were Still Too Young to Fight Back…

Don’t open your chest up let the butterflies out burn the velvet gloves and seek to trust hands held over hands in circles dancing to the gravy of secure claim Don’t risk dissolution by the marble hands of your own family it never gets easier a little death upon a little death pursed words kissing […]

via Claim — TheFeatheredSleep

Can the Family Members Really, Truly, Understand One Another?

Uh, HELL NO, ‘cuz we’re too close, to see each other truthfully, like how the outside world can! Translated…

The misunderstandings of “people can come to understand one another”, is the cause of unsettlement.

When I was in my twenties, there was a girl who’d yelled at me:

“Why can’t you understand me?!”, it’d thrilled me. I’d analyzed the reason why her words had, thrilled me, and found, that this sentence was built on the foregrounds of ‘People can understand one another naturally”.

It’s a “norm”, that people can understand each other, but I couldn’t understand her, and so, that girl felt anxious and was tortured by her own sense of insecurity.

but, if you change the sentence to “People can’t naturally understand one another”, and come to the agreement, that not understanding each other WAS the norm, then, we wouldn’t be stressed out over it, nor would we get tortured by this lack of security we feel toward each other.

And so, as the other person understood us we’d felt glad, that it was, a miracle, that we’d, understood each other, and that would be, an excited and ecstatic moment for us both then.

That way, we’d no longer be stressed out over “we can’t understand one another”, and nor would we feel strained by “why can’t we understand each other?”. Because not understanding each other is the norm, and we’d think more on terms of “how can we understand each other more”, and no longer would we get, stressed out over it, or feel anxious either.

Am I wayward in thinking in this manner?

But I believe, that this prerequisite is very important, because of this, we’d, worked even harder, to try to understand one another.

Some believed, that other than “someone else”, there’s still that “someone who can understand me without me having to say a word”.

“Even if I don’t say anything, there’s another version of me who gets me”…………but, if you’re smart enough, you’d know right off the bat, that no such other person exists.

But, when you’d felt fatigued, beaten, trapped in your loneliness, naïve, and hated life, you couldn’t help, but hope, for someone else with whom “I don’t need to say a thing, and gets me”.

It’s meeting up with someone who’s a fake, but thinking that s/he is someone who’s real.

Take for instance, family, maybe it’ll be clearer for you.

Even as you’d lived for many years, with someone who resembled you, but to you, family members are still “those from outside”.

Stop believing that “because we’re family, we’d, naturally understood one another.” or, “parents understand their own children the best.” All of these, are LIES, or maybe, wishful thinking, hoping, that those we love can, understand us. And although we can all empathize with this, but this isn’t at all, true.

As you were younger, your families wouldn’t be considered as “others”.

Especially for children growing up in love, the parents became “even if I don’t say anything, they can understand me so well”. Or, as the parents became stricter, you’d turn yourselves into “my parents’ robots”.

And yet, as you grow older, when your judgments differed from your parents, they’d become, “others”.

Especially when it comes to finding a job, being in love, marriage, living independently, parents would often “show up” as a forceful other. At this time, both parties would feel that we’d lived under the same roofs so long, why is there such a huge difference in the way we thought, and felt flustered over this.

And yet, that, is how human interactions worked, being different is matter-of-fact, and so, so long as we communicate well, then, we can, reduce that emptiness inside, and can motivate us in positive ways.

Never believe the old clichés like “men don’t get women”, “Women can’t understand men”.

It’s not that men can’t get women, or women don’t understand men.

Men who start believing that “men can’t get women”, after they fell in love, they’d begun to try to understand the women they’re into. Meaning, that as he was a young child, this was, the very first time, that he’d wanted to understand the woman he’s with.

Before this, for instance, as he’d interacted with an older schoolmate in his extracurricular activities, he’d never thought of understanding the individual in depth.

As I went to lunch at a café with an older schoolmate, I saw him not eating any tomatoes, I’d asked him, “hey, don’t you eat any tomatoes at all?” But even as he’d replied, “I hate tomatoes”, I’d not keep his word in mind, “He doesn’t eat tomatoes, remember it!”

And yet, as I’m in love, when my girlfriend told me, “I hate tomatoes”, I’d, naturally remember it.

Which means, that the very first time we’re compelled to understand someone, it’s usually someone from the opposite sex. If it’s a man, he’d normally wanted to understand a woman first, and if it’s a woman, she’d normally first try to really understand a man.

(the above is in heterosexual relationships. But if you’re a homosexual, then, naturally, you would want to understand someone who’s the same sex as you).

Because we couldn’t understand “others”, that is why we say, “Men can’t get women”, or “Women have NO clue what men are thinking”.

And yet, these two sentences were both wrong. It should be changed to “nobody understands anybody else”. In parent-child relationship the child who’s having a first argument with the parents would say, “The adults don’t get children.”, as the siblings fight, “Siblings are still, not us.”

But, compared to the relations of families, most meet their “others” in love, when love started blooming in the teens, or early twenties, we are, driven, to understand someone we liked for the very first time in our lives, and are trapped, in deep emotional pains, and the person who makes us feel that way, is a “significant other”.

I must reiterate:

I believe, that “We can’t naturally understand each other”, this belief can help reduce our own insecurities, and help us understand one another better.

So, wanting to understand someone else is a sort of a drive (like the drives to eliminate hunger, thirst???), and, just like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, you must fulfill your needs on the first two level before you’re able to contemplate about love, and, it’s because we’re attracted to someone, that, was why we’re, driven to understand everything we can about the person, isn’t it???

The Days I’d Lived as My Daddy’s “Mistress”

Her daddy’s little girl, translated…

My father went with the armies in 1949, floated across the seas to Taiwan, and, stayed single for eighteen years, then, had his children, I was a piece of his heart, and during his weekends home, he’d always, lifted me up over his shoulders, so I can, look at this colorful world from a bird’s eye view.  The elderly woman from the military retirement village, Tu made fun, “Xiang, you’re treating your daughter like he’s your mistress, aren’t you!”, at the age of three, I’d, innocently repeated, “I am daddy’s mistress!”

the precious love between a father and a daughter, photo from online…a daddy and his baby girl 的圖片結果

My father’s “first” wife worked hard, to keep the family budgets, while his “mistress” got served her meals, waited on hand and foot, I’d gotten all my father’s love, before my father took off his army uniform, his voice saying, “Where’s that mistress of mine?” came echoing.

Uncle Lu from Sandong opened up a noodle shop after he retired from the army in our village, the small wonton was my favorite, and, not knowing how the characters sounded, I’d mistakenly sounded wonton as “bastard”, and since then, “I’m taking my mistress out to have some bastards!” became my father’s call as he took me out.

In the first grade, my school teacher made us go on the podium to tell about our favorite foods, I’d told the class, I’d loved having “bastards” the most, and, the teacher as well as the students all opened up their eyes wide and inquired, “what IS that?”, the minced pork, wrapped with the flattened dough, like the clouds, floating in the soups, tasted slippery and aromatic, I’d used my limited vocabulary, and described it, then, my teacher got it, “oh, that’s call wonton!”, and, I’d called wontons bastards for four years on end, and nobody bothered to, correct me!

After school, I’d told my father righteously, the correct way to call the food, and that “bastard” is something you say when you insult someone else that we shouldn’t, say it at all, and ever since, my father changed his words, and “I’m taking my mistress out for wonton!”, my father had the large bowl of wonton noodle soup, and I had the large bowl of wonton soup, with the red bean buns.

Back then, there were only three T.V. stations, other than the cartoons, Mr. Bao, and the sword-fight soap “Bodyguard”, there’s, no other form of eight o’clock prime time soap, and everybody matured later, until in our first year of middle school, did we all learn, that “mistress” was a term, given to a homewrecker.  And, I’d gone home, and gave it straight to my father, I’m not a mistress, I’m your little girl.  And then, my father lost his younger mistress who’d climb onto his knees, and only the wife who grilled him every now and then.

When he said, “Honey, have some wonton.”  I’d told him I wanted to go read comics with my friends, to ride bicycles, to head to the libraries, and the era of eating the wontons, ended, with Uncle Lu passing away, the noodle shop closing, my father got older by the day, and I, busier and busier.

Slowly, he’d, forgotten a lot of things, started hunching his back, becoming bald, turned into, a little old man, and, his empty gazes drifted toward the distances, he’d gotten lost, in his own world now, sometimes, he was in China in his home, sometimes, he’s serving the army in Taoyuan, sometimes, he was helping to build the reservoirs……and sometimes, I’m, nobody he knew.

the special relationship of a daddy and his baby girl…photo from online

Sitting on the chair in the yard, he’d carried that pampering tone of voice, with that smile in his eyes, said to me, “Mistress, let’s go and have some bastards!”, “Sure, let’s go!”, I’d buried my teary face in my father’s knees, I’d returned back to when I was three, when my father, was my heaven and earth again.

So this is the parallel of aging of the daughter, and the father, they were both, growing “up”, it’s just, that as the daughter became more and more independent, the father became feebler and feebler, and now, the woman became his father’s “mistress” for certain, looking after him, taking him to places, like he’d taken her everywhere when she was a little girl too.