Saturday, November 16, 2013

Guan Zhong Pu's (众(忠)仆) Book - from Our Great Grandfather Rong's First Wife Chen (陈)

Our great grandfather Rong (1743-1798) had six sons and two daughters from his marriage with two wives, Chen (陈1742-1763) and Tong (童1745-1807). My mother's family is from the second wife Tong's descendants who left and never returned; Guan Zhong Pu's 众(忠)仆 book is about the first wife Chen's descendants who stayed. The story is very similar to our family, which rose and fell with the country. Another great mother held the family together. The only difference is that we call the farm Guan Jia Ba (官家坝) and they call it Chen Jia Ba (陈家坝).  Guan married to Chen and brought the land from Chen family.
     This post is from Laio's youngest son Ju Len's (举能) memoirs, titled "My Suffering Mother" (苦难的母亲), published by his son Guan Zhong Pu's (众仆) who born in 1948, entitled "Finding My Niche". In order to keep his generation name but not break the government new rule, his parents used "众" instead of "忠", the two words sounds similar but are spelled differently. His older brother was 众志.
     The first wife Chen (陈氏) had two children. The first one Huai Lee (怀礼) died young and the second son Lee Ren (立仁) was born in 1763. Lee Ren had three wives Lan (兰), Wu (吴) and Zhu (朱), but only Zhu gave him a son Chen Sheng (成圣1796-1857). Chen Sheng married Wu (吴) and had four sons. The oldest son Zhao Zuo (朝佐1812-1883) married Zhang (张) and had four sons and a daughter. Ting Ji (廷玑1847-1914) was the second son. His courtesy name was Yuan Fa (源发) with a pseudonym or alias (號) was 富有源登仕佐郎. He married Lin (林1849-1886) and had  a daughter and two sons (Xuan Ji 选楫 and Xuan Yi选一).

The older son Xuan Ji (选楫 1872-1929) had three wives. 
The first wife Huang (黄 1892-1902) gave him three sons.
  1. The first son was given as a child to his cousin Xuan Ling (选遴) who did not have son. This son later married to Zhen (曾氏) when he grown up.
  2. The second became the oldest son Ju Qi (举麒 1899-) whose courtesy name Weiming (卫民) means "protect the people." He also married into the Zhen family (曾春莺) who gave him a daughter. China went into chaos; war lords fought and the widespread opium entered the Guan family. The liquor store in Chengdu was managed by Weiming (卫民).  He was not really interested in the liquor business; the family accountant said the amount of money Weiming (卫民) gave out could keep the whole family from hunger for the rest of their lives.  He was a good student. Gongsun Zhangzi (公孙长子), whose father was Weiming's private teacher, was a member of Sun Yat-sen's Tongmenghui (同盟会). He eventually introduced Weiming into the Nationalist party Kuomintang. Weiming left home after closing down the liquor store to join his friend Gongsun Zhangzi (公孙长子) who was the Chief staff of Yuan Deji (袁德基). Weiming was the secretary for awhile, and later went to General Li Ja Yu (李家钰). He came home and showed off his gun to his parents who had never seen a gun before. He taught his father Xuan Ji how to fire it and his father was really scared. He treated his step-mother Liao (廖) well. He later became a warlord over a thousand men in Hubei; some said he was killed by his own because most of his followers were native of Hubei and he was not. He never came back and only some of his poetry is still around. For example, he wrote a memorial of Song Jiaoren (宋教仁), a founder of the Kuomintang who was assassinated in 1913 after leading his Kuomintang party won China's first democratic elections. Yuan Shikai was responsible for his assassination. 鸿门不杀刘, 霸图从此休. 勿将成败论, 气慨负千秋. The poem expressed his anger over Yuan's assassination. Yuan declared himself emperor in 1915 and died in 1916, the country descended into more than a decade of warlords.
  3. Then the second Jiming (济民1901-) married Wang (王) and had a son and daughter. He was addicted to opium, and stole all the valuables from his home, eventually even clothes. His step-mother had to hide valuables in her second floor bedroom. One day, he went up there and tried to steal his mother's clothes to sell them for opium. His step-mother caught him on the stairway; he pointed a spear at his step-mother Liao (廖) and wanted her to move out of his way. His step-mother did not and others came and chased him away. He died among the homeless on the street.
The second wife Li (李1884-1910) gave him a son and a daughter.
  1. Ju Wu (举武1905-1958) married Li (黎氏)whose father was Ju Ren (举人). They had a son and daughter. He was also addicted to opium.
  2. Ju Su (举淑1908-1984) had an arranged marriage with the son of Zhang Quenyou (張群友) who was county governor of Sui Ding (绥定 today's Dazhou 达州). The son Zhang Daozhen (张道震) did not want to marry Ju Su because he had his lover in Nanjing (南京), so his powerful father went to Nanjing and captured him and dragged him back to marry her. He left and never came home; ten years later they ended up divorcing. Then she married Shi Xue Yi in Nanjing (南京中华门军人史学义).
The third wife Liao (史家廖氏1876-1948) gave him three more sons.
Xuan Ji's (选楫) 3rd wife Liao (廖)
  1. Zhi Ming (治民1902-1959) married Wan Suling (万淑林 1905-1977) and had a daughter. He was addicted to gambling, and also contracted a sexually transmitted disease. He came back with an expensive suit and a gold ring on his finger; he even had a gold tooth. He wanted his mother to sell the family courtyard, the only thing the whole family had left, and with the money he could start a new business. His mother was scared since her husband had died, unsure yet with no other choice, she went along with him, and sold the house to the Zhang family. It only took a few years for this son to lose everything and run away from home again. The family finally fell apart, lost everything. One thing he did that was great was to transfer his mother's coffin to his own land, which was from the communist land reform. He hired over 20 young men to dig up his mother's coffin, and carry it over 20 miles to rebury her there.  That make it possible for his mother's third move back home next to his father in 1958. Zhi Ming died from a beating punishment for stealing food during the Great Chinese Famine.
  2. Ju Xian(举贤1916-1988) married Zhang LiRong (张丽容 1921-) and had one son and four daughters. He tried to get into Whampoa Military Academy (黄埔军校)14th class, but failed. Mao Kuan (毛坤) suggested that he go to electrical engineering school instead. Ju Xian finished the Electrical Engineering School and went to Sui Ding (绥定 today's Dazhou 达州) to teach high school, because Zhang Quenyou (张群友县长) was in charge of the county. Red Army Xu XiangQian (徐向前) fought his way in and kicked out Zhang Quenyou. Ju Xian lost his teaching job. He went back to Wuhan again; this time he passed Whampoa Military Academy (黄埔军校)17th class. After he graduated, he was in charge of a local artillery unit in Yibin (宜宾). Soon he was sent to Chongqing (重庆经检大队) as a secretary. After Japan surrendered in 1945, he was sent back to his hometown Bei Mu Town as the Police Chef. He locked up his older brother Ju Wu (举武) in jail to break his opium addiction. Later Communists accused him as one of KMT spies (军统特务); he lost everything and depended on his wife's income and lived poorly till the late 1970s. His name was cleared and he was able to go back to work and meet his friends again. He also became an active member of mainland KMT party and alumnus of Whampoa Military Academy (黄埔军校).
  3. Ju Len (举能1920-2001)'s courtesy name was Ji Gizi (楫季子) which means the youngest son of the boat. He went to Zizhong Teacher's College (资中联立师范) and Shu Hua high school (蜀华高中) in Chengdu. Graduated from Sichuan Teacher's College in Chengdu (四川师范大学). He taught Chinese. He was the principal of two grammar schools, chairman of the labor union for number five high school. He was the fifth (5 届)people's representative for the town of White Horse to Beijing. Published many papers and books. He died on May 22, 2001; his ashes were scattered into the mother river Toujing (沱江), then Yangze River eventually flowing into the Pacific
        As noted above, this post is from Laio's youngest son Ju Len's (举能) memoirs, entitled "My Suffering Mother" (苦难的母亲), published by his son Guan Zhong Pu's (众仆) who born in 1948, entitled "Finding My Niche". Zhong Pu is in my generation Zhong (忠). He also graduated from Sichuan teacher's college and taught Chinese. He was assistant principal of the White Horse school and a member of the Sichuan's Author's Club. Married to Liu Wanying, he had one son, who is also a teacher. This son had one daughter whose family name was changed back to Shangguan.
    Zhong Pu's (众仆) book and himself
The younger son Xuan Yi (选一)'s courtesy name was Shao Young (少扬). He had two wives Laio and Lo (廖氏,罗氏). He was always sheltered under his older brother Xuan Ji, living a confortable life till the family bussiness went down. Xuan Ji's wife and children continued taking care of them and their family.
The first wife Laio ( 廖氏) had 4 sons and a daughter.
  1. Ju Fang 举方's his courtesy name was Liming(利民) which means "for the people". He was a good farmer, his two sons too worked on the farm.
  2. Ju Jie 举介's courtesy was Fu Shen(富生); he was a commander under Li Jia Yu (李家钰)in 1925. Later on he was addicted to opium; his wife took their two kids back to her mom's home. He died homeless on the street.
  3. Ju Ming (举岷) opened his own opium den and he was also addicted to opium. His wife had affairs with other men during their marriage. Normally, this woman would have been sunk to the bottom of the river for her adultery, if our family court system was working. But the Guan family had fallen apart. She left right away after his death with another man.
  4. Ju Yue (举钺) was a farmer first, then joined the army and died on the front line. His young and beautiful wife Zhu(祝) was forced to remarry by her in-laws. They asked for so much money from the groom which made her feel like she was sold. Only Xuan Ji's wife Liao (廖) told her that she would always be a member of the Guan family.
The second wife Lo (罗氏) had two sons. She was one of the two whom married into the Guan family on the same day, yet she had a welcome wedding. When she had her son, she hired a milk mother to breastfeed her son and a maid to do all the house work.
  1. Ju Hong 举宏's courtesy name was Wanlin (万伶), he was a spoiled child. Later he was also addicted to opium and gambling. He stole from family and friends, eventually dying from falling into a ditch. 
  2. Ju Zhao 举朝's courtesy name was Ximing(新民). He was a lazy bully spoiled by his mother.
    The older son Xuan Ji (选楫1872-1929) brought his family wealth to the peak. He was a hard worker and brilliant manager with over 100 employees. He ran silk, sugar and candy, food, wine and liquor businesses. His shops were not only in Bei Mo town, but also in Neijing and Chengdu. His net income was over 10 million at the time. He built their grand family courtyard and brought his parents over from the farm. He went to the farms to check on his sugar cane and other crops.
     Xuan Ji's (选楫) third wife was from the Liao (廖) family, whose father was a private teacher. Her first husband died shortly after their marriage. So her second marriage into the Guan family was not welcoming; she was carried in a cold sedan chair through the back door of the courtyard without any celebration. On the same day, his younger brother Xuan Yi (选一) took in his second wife Lo (罗), a virgin from a much larger family in Neijiang. So it was all about her in a grand celebration. Her sedan chair was covered with red satin and fresh flowers proceeded by attendants with lanterns and banners, and musicians. Liao was of the lowest rank of the family, almost like a maid. She was 45 years old when she had her baby son Ju Len.(举能). Xuan Ji's oldest son was over 20-30 years older.
      Then one by one, his business was closed down in the war torn China. Xuan Ji (选楫) was in so much debt and finally ran away from his home from his creditor, abandoning everything. With family friend Zhang's help in Sui Ding (绥定 today's Dazhou 达州), he started a small business. He hoped to save enough money so he could pay back his creditors and go back home. Two of his former store managers showed up to work for him, so did three of his sons, one had an opium addiction, one loved gambling and the second youngest son went to the local school. Instead of letting his son go to opium dens and causing more trouble, he had his useless son smoke opium at his home. His earnings could not even cover his expenses in Sui Ding, leaving nothing to send back home. Xuan Ji (选楫)died May 9, 1929 at age 57. His employees and sons put his body in a coffin on a boat on the Yangtze River, then the Tuo River (沱江) back home. The journey took a little over a month and it was in the summer.
     Back home, Xuan Ji's youngest wife Liao (廖) had been the rock holding his large families together. Xuan Ji's first and second wife had passed away, leaving their troubled children behind. His younger brother Xuan Yi, and his second wife also depended on her since they could not do any house work. She had to do everything inside and outside after her husband left; she had never gone out of the courtyard when her husband was home. She walked all over the town with her bound feet, taking humiliation daily.
      Liao had hoped her husband would come home with money to pay back their creditors so she did not have to beg from the family members, relatives and friends to put food on the table. You could imagine when her husband's body arrived. She was screaming and ran to the coffin while others tried to stop her from opening the coffin. She refused to believe her husband had gone, just left her, his six sons, and all others. No one remembered if she succeeded in opening the coffin. Life after that was terrible, yet she tried her best to hold her large family together till the day she died.
      Ju Len (举能) was only 9 when his father died and he loved to go to school. His mother Liao told him only if he was born ten years earlier, his life would be much better. At least they did not have to beg from others for his tuition. When they had money, his older brothers, except the oldest one Ju Qi (举麒), all lazybones could not get up in the morning or lie about having a headache or tummy ache so they did not have to go to school. One by one, they became spendthrift (败家子). Now depending on his mother's needlework, life was very hard. Ju Len remembered when he and his mother went to Neijiang to visit a relative Zhang (張). His mother was begging for help from the rich family. It was the first time for him to see the splendid displays of a department store. The wife showed off the whole department store and her good son. She said "although I have only one son, my son is better than ten sons of yours". His mother had to be humble and nicely agreed with her, yet cried all the way home.
      Ju Len started homeschooling in his relatives house, after his mom begged them to let her son join private schooling. She did not have money to hire her own private teacher at home. Sometime, Ju Len came home from school and noticed his mother had not started the fire for dinner yet, he did not know they had nothing to cook that day. His older brothers, his uncle and aunt not only stole things in the house to sell; his aunt, second wife of Xuan Yi, even took rice to exchange for some snakes she loved. She was used to have her snakes, sweets or whatever she loved. Ju Len's mother had to hide everything valuable in the house; she also had to fend off warlords pointing guns at her head, demanding money or hidden treasure.
      Ju Len was able to go to a modern school in Neijiang where they were already teaching science and English. Maybe he started with very traditional Chinese home schooling; he preferred Chinese literature over modern science classes. His gym teacher was Guan Weihan (官维翰), native of Luzhou (沪洲), likely Xuan (选) generation since my grandfather's second brother's courtesy name was Guan Weixin (官维新). Weihan graduated from Shanghai Gym Training school (上海东亚体专). He also their boy scout leader taught them survival skills in the woods. They even hiked all the way to Zigong and set up their tents and campfire in a park. Their middle school basketball team won the championship after beating all the teams in Zigong.
Ju Len (举能) with his boy scout uniform
     When Ju Len was 18 years old, he went to Zizhong Teacher's College (资中联立师范). He then transferred to Shu Hua high school (蜀华高中) in Chengdu where he met his wife Wu Dechun (吴德纯) who was the homeschool teacher of Liu Wencai (刘文彩). Her family had already planned her future husband for her, when she was a little girl, to a close family friend. She ended up breaking her arranged marriage so she could marry Ju Len. Her fiancé was cool since he was also a college kid. But when she posted their break up in newspapers, his family would not accept it and they wanted her family to go to Chengdu to take her back, punishing her by their family law. Her family actually went to Chengdu and saw their daughter and backed out from it.
Ju Len (举能) and Wu Dechun (吴德纯) married
     After Zhi Ming, the gambler, lost their family home, His mother moved to Yibin (宜宾) into her second son Ju Xian(举贤)'s home. Ju Len finished school and passed the civic exam and went to the Yibin local department of revenue and finance. His job was to collect gains for the Nationalist Amy and helping get rid of local war lords (征粮剿匪). He married Dechun and lived with his mother. One day in December 1945, after Japan surrendered, the downtown was fully decorated, every door had a flag, security was tight. Around noon, Chiang Kai-Shek (蔣介石), his wife Song May-ling (宋美龄) and Bai Chongxi ( 白崇禧)showed up. They thanked everyone for all their support and the locals celebrated the victory. The small city was filled with cheerful people, with drums and fireworks.
     Ju Len's mother now had something in her tummy as if she was pregnant. First he took her to Zigong to have better doctors for a diagnosis They had to run to shelter right after they checked in to the motel because Japanese planes were dropping bombs. Ju Len saw the planes drop bombs and heard loud explosions. When they finally made it back to the motel, the motel was ruined. They ended up checking into a different motel. They visited a doctor the next day and the doctor told them to come back in the Fall if the bombing stopped. When they finally took her to Chongqing, the doctor told them it was too late. His mother died in 1948 and was buried in Yibin (宜宾), forever a shame for her sons. Ju Len wrote a poem to remember his mother.
 意犹未尽, 情意难尽, 思念亡母, 柔肠寸断.
      Ju Len wanted his mother back home with his father; he was finally able to do it in 1958, ten years after she died. Although it was not allowed by the Communist government, his cousin who knew the procedures for a second burial and they performed the ceremony with the rest of living children. They all knelt at their mother's grave and cried and said sorry to their mother, especially the ones who were addicted to opium and gambling. They gave their mother the most trouble, they felt so bad that they could not get up from the ground. His mother's coffin was moved once before by Zhi Ming (治民)a few years earlier, after he received land from the communist land reform. It was a great comfort to them when they saw their mother's bones were clean, neatly lined inside of the coffin. They each carefully picked up their mother's bones and carefully put them into the jar (葬罐) they had prepared. There was still another problem; how would they transport his mother's bones back home by train, the one route for transportation? Again, one of his cousins decided to use bamboo and made a net to enclosed the jar (葬罐) on the bottom, then made a basket on the top filled up with produce. Ju Len was able to carry his mother's bones back home, and re-bury her next to his father.
     Zhong Pu's (众仆) poem (below), at his mother Wu Dechun's(吴德纯) 90th birthday, summarized her life.  She was born in 1923, with 14 siblings before her.  Her grandparents ran a very good business and also founded local schools. One of her relatives, Wu Yuzhang (吴玉章 1878-1966) was a Chinese politician, educator, and the first president of Renmin University of China from 1950 to 1966.
Wu Yuzhang (吴玉章)

Please help to rebuild the eleventh generation
(1699-1775) grandfather Guan Yuen Hui ' s tomb: 亟待修复的内江官氏祖坟-云辉公墓
Please wire your donations to Yuen Hui ' s tomb restoration payable to: 
Guan zhong pu (官众仆)
新修内江官氏祖坟外地捐款帐号:   中国工商银行四川内江支行玉溪路分理处
                                                      官众仆 621723 2307000080724
 Wartime Scholars     

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Changing Back to Shangguan from Guan

Our Guan (官) was shortened from Shangguan since the Song Dynasty (960-1279). Guan means official and officials were not well received for a while, especially in the poor regions where the people felt they had been left behind.  They told me they did not want their family name associated with the Official Guan (官), so they changed their family name back to Shangguan.(上官).
    The young and able went to cities to supply the work force for all the "Made in China" products. The number of children left behind by these migrant workers equals the population of Great Britain.  Those children are growing up without their parents.
     I was never interested in politics which was why I never joined any party.  I dislike the party line.  I dislike the way that you have to have someone introduced in order to join the communist party.  I look down on people who bend backwards to please their adviser and report what's on their mind on a regular basis.  I like to keep what's in my mind to myself, I do not like lies.
     My father always blamed himself for sitting on the Dragon Chair by mistake in Xi'an's ( 西安)imperial palace when he was a teenager, guarding the leaders, resulting in his own bad luck. He lost ten years of his best life with my mother resulting in two lost pregnancies my mother had to have. He did not tell me or anyone till Xi Jinping (习近平) took power and he turned 80 years old. He thinks the curse of the bad luck and short life has gone. Xi had submitted ten applications trying to join the communist party,a long journey to the top. My father had faith in him and he hoped he could clean the corruption of the communist party. He said their oil company was asking all government employees to write a self-confession of 1000 words on all aspects of their work, and this made a lot of people lose sleep, especially leaders. Corruption in China is rooted very deep no matter who was in charge so it would be very difficult to completely clean it up.  At least, this would be a warning for all. A very good example was this lowly clerk who issue IDs in the local police station; he made one poor man run back and forth 19 times before giving him his ID.  He was fired recently through this cleanup. 
How Xi Jinping (习近平) became the president of China
Princeton Study: U.S. No Longer An Actual Democracy."Winston Churchill famously quipped that “Democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried.”  Democracy did not form spontaneously. It was created. It has evolved since it was created, do doubt. But it was created by people who had power. People who apparently gave up that power and voluntarily handed it to other people." see more:  Is Democracy the Opium of the Masses?
     China is much more open today and people could speak out more. When my father's friend, an old retired communist party leader, received a package by mail, he was shocked that it was filled with anti-communist and anti-government materials.  The poor man was so scared that he closed the package right away and tried to figure out who send it to him; he could not sleep at night because he did not know what to do. He could not tell anyone, not even his old wife. Finally, he decided to go to the city police station to report this incident. He had to transfer to two buses to get there.  When he showed the materials to the young policemen, no one was interested to listen to him. Since they could not get rid of him, they told him to wait for their supervisor.  He waited for one hour; finally, the supervisor showed up and looked at the contents of the package.  The supervisor said it was no big deal since he had seen those things around; the old men used old phrases the young supervisor never heard before. He said back then, someone would get killed by doing this.  The supervisor told him that he should learn how to use computers so he could see how much bad posts are out there.  In the end, the old man asked him what to do with the package; the young supervisor said: "this package was sent to you, not me. You could do anything you want with it".  The poor old man carefully guarded the package, taking the bus back home and burned its contents before anyone else could see them.   
     I am not interested in politicians, but still I have met our local mayor, local representatives, and governors at local fairs and gatherings. The first time I had happened to encounter our governor William Weld was in a school fair in Cambridge in the 1990s. He was dressed casually, and wore work boots. I was surprised that he  lined up in the queue like the rest of us for food. We were a few persons behind him. Jonathan was about 3 years old. He talked to people around him and others passed by just calling him "Bill".  I was shocked that he only got a cup of fresh squeezed lemonade and he paid for it just like everyone else there. I know a teacher in a school where many politicians, such as Clinton and Obama's kids go, she told us their kids are just like any other kids and their parents are just like any other kids parents except they have security. 
     Our company recently received government approval for accepting military shipments.  I went through all the procedures to set up the government inspection. When the inspector finally was ready to come, I offered to book a hotel for him and asked him if he had special interests to see Boston, such as the Red Sox. He did not reply to my email, only telling me that he would drive to our area in a week. He showed up one day around 1 PM without prior notification, and went right to work as an inspector at our warehouse.  He came back to the office, made some recommendations, and gave us more forms to sign.  The whole thing took an hour. It was hot outside so I asked him if he needed a cup of coffee or water.  He said he had some water in his car and left right after his work was finished.  I was worried that he would not approve us but he did. It always made my heart bleed to move a "Bluebark" which means to move a deceased young American soldier's personal belonging back to his home. Their belongings are less than 500 lbs most of the time, and their parents are always grateful and thankful. Moving an officer usually will be much more difficult since they usually have a lot more (20,000 lbs).
     Mencius (孟子372-289 BC) said:"民为贵,社稷次之,君为轻" which means rulers need to put people first, country second and themselves last. “君者,舟也;庶人,水也。水则载舟 ,水则覆舟。 from 《荀子·王制》。 The ruler is like a boat and people like water; so the water could let the boat sail or sink.Government officials always come from the people and are for the people. Checks and balance are very important to make sure of fairness and transparency.  Although there is no perfect solution, the democratic free vote and free media are important, not money or power talk.  I hope one day the Chinese people could elect their own leaders freely, no term limits, yet the leaders could get fired daily by its people. Whoever, from Mainland, Taiwan, Hong Kong, or Macau, could do the job the best.  What is best for the country and what is best for the world.  

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Richard Went to College and My Father Had a Pacemaker

The oldest children have higher expectations from their parents and themselves. Jonathan was second in his high school class.  The year before him, the second went to Harvard. My son thought he had a chance to get in too since they had very similar backgrounds except he did not consider himself white.  Not mention he had practically grown up at Harvard since Anthony works there. It was 5 PM when he waited in the front of the computer for the news and the email was late. Everything stopped and our whole family was waiting for the news. Then he received the sad news that he was not accepted from Harvard and all the other Ivy Leagues. He went up to his room without dinner and it was first time ever he did not want to eat. The rest of us ate our dinner without a word. I had a very hard time to swallow my food. Jonathan's sad face kept me awake all night and I did not know how to help him.  The next day he told me that he was fine and went back to school. One of his teachers gave him a paper advertisement for Harvard Extension School as a joke. I just hoped it had nothing to do with the fact that he checked his ethnicity as Asian.  I read that  Asian-American applicants are turned away from colleges in disproportionate numbers. Still I support the idea of giving a chance for disadvantaged kids even if it means costing my son's chance, still I hoped it was done fairly, not just Asians pay for it.  Is Harvard Unfair to Asian-Americans?
    Richard was within the top 10 of his class so he was more realistic when he applied to colleges. Although Jonathan had never visited his college (Middlebury College)  before he was accepted, he fell in love with the school as soon as he got there. His two brothers loved it too. Richard applied early decision for the school and was accepted so he did not have to apply to any other school and saved us a lot of application fees.
     My father ended up in the Hospital for observation for two weeks and my mother did not tell us right away. He was cold one night, so instead of waking up the two nurses, he walked home at midnight to get a blanket.  I was very upset with him and my mother about this and the two did not think it was a big deal since the hospital was close to their home.  The hospital in China allows patients to come and go. Why wake them since he was fine and nothing happened?, but what if something happened?
     He was transferred to the best hospital in Chengdu - Huxi Medical. The doctor told my mom that my father needed a Pacemaker; she refused to sign the papers and called my brother. My brother went back right away and stayed till after the procedure. My brother waited one hour in line each time to park in the hospital's underground parking garage and my mom said it was faster taking a bus and walking. The bus has its own lane no other cars could use. My father and my brother's company also sent two persons to visit my father in the hospital with gifts and well wishes.
     My brother hired a helper right away since my mom did not.  It cost 160 yuan per day and he kept my father company 24/7 and took care of whatever my father needed. The rate ranges from 100-300 per day depending upon the patient's needs. Chinese nurses do not do any of the dirty work. You either do it yourself, your family members, or hire a helper yourself. The helper had a small cot next to my father's bed. My mom told us she could take care of my father herself. I asked her to take a taxi and she said why spent 20 yuan instead of taking a free 2 hours bus trip.  She told me how she went to the market every day to get fresh meat, fruits and vegetables to cook for my father, although her cooking was not as good but fresher and healthier than the hospital food.  She also give my father a good message before she went back home and my father would walk her to the bus station.
     Two weeks after the pacemaker, my father was still in hospital.  The doctor told me on the phone that the pacemaker could not take care of his early beats so they were still trying to figure out which medicine was best for him; right now they gave him some kind of herbal medicine in pill-form.
     Two months later, my father was still dizzy in the afternoon. He ended up in the hospital again right before the October holiday. The hospital let him go home from the hospital for a whole week for the holiday, but without checking out since he was still technically an in-patient.
     My sister went to China to help my father. She has been learning about natural healing since she and her family moved to Georgia. While teaching Chinese, she had many opportunities to learn from Buddhist healing masters from Taiwan. She had another Chinese teacher watching her two kids after school, cooking dinner for her husband. Since the Chinese teacher also had a husband, instead of going home without dinner or eating alone, he also came to my sister's house for dinner. My sister's husband is not so happy since she would be gone for two months leaving two kids with him in the morning before the school bus comes. Since it is for parents, he only wished that her kids were older so they could take care of themselves.
    My father made great progress a month after my sister showed up, he was able to calm down by himself, and actually sits down to do some simple Yoga or meditation my sister taught him.  My sister also introduced him to a local natural healing master to guide him. His early heartbeat is finally under control so he does not feel dizzy.
     My mom's younger sister Ju-Ming practices Falun Gong. It was hard to believe that my aunt a member of the communist party and a distinguished geologist with many published papers. Falun Gong changed her so much that she lost faith in everything else. She devoted every minute of her life to Falun Gong and she refused any of her medicine. No one could talk to her unless you wanted to listen to her or join her Falun. She had a stroke a year ago and for the past year has been in and out of the hospital.  The good thing is she has good pension and health care from the government, while her 40 years old unemployed son dreams to have the same benefits his mother has. Her son only worked a few years after college, but has been trying to pass the accounting exam. He refused to join the migrant workers for "slave labor" "Made in China" brands. He could have took his father's place in the father's state owned factory but that factory closed even before his father retired. Most state owned factories closed in China since they could not compete.
      My 82 year old mother has been hooked on "health pills" from the US, Europe for a few years through direct sales; direct sale is banned but somehow still a big business in China. She spent all her pension and savings on them. Those young sales people treat her and her friends like queens with formal lectures about how those pills resulted in a Noble Prize, discussions, massaging and washing their feet, and useless gifts. Sometime she left house 7 AM and my father said as long as she was happy.
     My sister overheard my mom tell her friend that my mother had lung cancer. My poor sister was so scared telling me that she was not even brave enough to ask my mom. I talked to my mom right away and asked her who told her she had lung cancer and where was the report?  She said she went to this Hua Xia Health Clinic and they have this advanced testing that only needed a single hair.  I started to laugh with a big relief.  Mom, a hair could only test whether those kids are yours or not, and obviously they are not.  They would not rob you if they were. She spent over 20,000 yuan of my brother's money buying a healthy pill 10 years supplies. I told her she would live 93, but her drug company could go down the next day.  She hanged up the phone on me. My girlfriend Welin's mom spent over 20,000 yuan on the another health pills that were made in Taiwan. She looked into this drug company and it was a real company but they do not have that kind of drug in Taiwan; it is only produced and sold in mainland China.
     We have been talking about how to take care of my parents since none of us live in the city where they lived. My cousin suggested that my parents move into her two bedroom condo since she is hardly ever there.  She stayed at her mom's building just across from hers so she could take care of her mom and my parents at the same time.  They live on the north side and my parents lives on the east side of the city. She still works full time. My parents refused, then I suggested that they hire a maid at home and they refused since they already have cleaners coming regularly. They want to stay in their own home and of course, it adds to my worries especially when I cannot reach them on the phone. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Jonathan Went to College

     A lot happened since 9.11 in the US, financial meltdown -- human destruction, and in China Sichuan Earthquake and Japan Earthquake -- natural destruction.
     Time flies; my parents had gone back to China for close to 10 years. They felt like prisoners here since they do not have friends to talk to and they could not go anywhere without my driving them. Back home, they could talk to the colleagues who worked with them all their life since they live in the very same buildings. Or they could simply visit whomever by just simply ringing their door bells. We had a Manchu neighbor Li when I was in high school, he was a director of the institute. Now their next door neighbor Ma who is Hui (Chinese Muslim) married a Han wife. He was the communist party secretary which was above my father.  Everything is within their walking distance. Although they could wave a taxi anywhere on the street (like New York City now), they prefer to take a bus if they have to go somewhere farther away since it is free for seniors. Since they are over 80 years old, they each get 1000 yuan each Chinese New Year as a reward on top of their pensions. My mom retired when she was 55 and my father was 60. They are lucky! I felt so bad for my mother-in-law, at age 72, she just went back to work earning minimum wage because their retirement money was disappearing due to the bad stock market. They are not alone, so many others lost their money and lost their voice too. Their financial advisor had told them 15 years ago (from one of the world's leading financial management and advisory companies) that their money was safe with them and they could receive a good income until they were 99 years old. My father-in-law said if he had tucked his money under his mattress, it still be there today. Although my father-in-law worked for a multi-national company for over 30 years as a research scientist, his company owned all of his patented inventions. The Great Deformation: The Corruption of Capitalism in America by  David A. Stockman.
      The GDP of the US is 14.99 trillion (2011), $7720 per capita for 313.9 million people. For China: 7.318 trillion and $157 per capita for 1.344 billion people. Somehow, the US owes $1.2 trillion debt to China. In November 2012, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that more than 16% of the people live in poverty in the US, including almost 20% of American children, up from about 14% (ca. 43.6 million) in 2009 and to its highest level since 1993. In 2008, about 13% (40 million) Americans lived in poverty. Between 200,000 and 500,000 Americans were homeless. About 1.56 million people, or about 0.5% of the U.S. population, used an emergency shelter or transitional housing between October 2008 and October 2009.
      I had been working for a independent moving agent (under a bigger worldwide company) for over 10 years now with little savings for my retirement except Social Security if it is still there. My parents spent all their lives working for the oil company. It looked like we had to use oil whether we liked it or not. My brother has been working for an airline in China for over 30 years now and it looks like he is going to work for the same company for the rest of his life.
      About twenty years ago, I started writing my thoughts and memories as a keepsake for my children. It was never finished. Jonathan went to college. I was a little surprised that he was actually interested in history. He took a course called Modern East Asia. He came home and talked about the history he learned and asked me about my family. I really did not know much since I was never interested in history. My high school history returned back to my history teacher right after the test. I felt a little embarrassed after he went back to college. Richard in high school and Joseph in middle school will ask me the same questions soon so I had better be prepared. Still I could not imagine reading a Chinese history book. I could not even read a history novel. I had been a student for so long, the best way for me to learn was through lectures. I found Professor Kenneth Hammond’s “Chinese History 5000” from Yao to Mao, and at the same time I asked my parents to send me whatever they had on our family history.
      I explored my family roots in my second book, "Searching for My Hakka Roots." Modern technology can trace DNA to show one's ancestry via genetics. There is a possibility that I am not who I am by blood since so many Chinese changed their names throughout Chinese history. Just like my cross the hall Manchu neighbor Mr Li in Chengdu, China and Mary from my Church here USA, her family name "Wang" as she knows is not her true Manchu family name. Since it the only family name she knew, she and her larger family of "Wang" will have to defend that name. They will look up to their "Wang" ancestors and follow their good example. I felt so small yet as a part of a family clan, but I have a duty to pass on our family tradition and keep our family's good name.
     Although they knew they had British, French and Italian blood, my three sons have their father's last name "Brach", not related to "Brach Candy". Although most people know how to pronounce "Brach Candy," they always miss pronounce our "Brach."  Since Brach is a German name, they naturally want to know more about the name. His father's ancestors came from Poland in late 1800, but lived on the border of Germany and Austria five generations ago. His cousins have tried to search for their roots, but failed.  Maybe because of their last name, my three sons choose German as their second language over Chinese. My parents, my Chinese relatives, and Chinese friends have always complained that I did not teach them Chinese, as if I could. The first time I heard German without looking at who was talking, I actually thought it was a Chinese dialect, since there are so many dialects I do not understand.  Another time, a person with last name "Han," which is mine, turned out to be a German. He told me Han/Hans are pretty common in Europe. Jonathan had German as one of his majors; he was in Germany for a whole year.  While he was there, he finally figured out what he wanted to do with his life.

Hunan, Chinese civilization center is German ancestry
Jonathan in Germany
Richard in Germany

Monday, February 18, 2013

My Sister Yi (Amy) Married Steven Pao (鲍)

My sister Yi never left home; she worked in the accounting department of the Oil Company my parents worked for all their life. She could not love anyone there since they all knew each other since they were kids. It would be like marrying one’s own sibling. Our ambassador friend from Taiwan introduced us to the Pao (鲍) family in Bristol, NH. The family owned two Chinese restaurants. Their oldest son Steven was looking for a Chinese bride. The ambassador introduced Steven to my younger sister Yi. Steven and Yi wrote to each other and then Steven visited China. I did not have much hope on this, since I introduced a Chinese man that I knew in Boston to my sister before, and it did not happen. Here, we were talking about the other side of the earth.
     One day after I returned home from work, my parents told me that Steven and his parents came for a visit. Steven sat far away quietly while his parents asked permission if their son could marry their daughter after two years of calling and visiting. How much did my parents want? After all, Steven’s father paid over $30,000 for his wife (10 years younger than he). His grandfather was Nationalist went to Taiwan in 1949 when KMT lost. The locals call them province outsiders (外省人), then they came came to US, the locals call them Chinese. When they finally was able to visit China, the locals call them Taiwanese.
     My parents were shocked; they had never been asked such a question before, but only heard such stories from their parents. Maybe people in remote areas of China still held this custom, but not in the cities since 1949.
     My parents told them that they were not selling their daughter; they did not want a penny from them as long as they both wanted to marry each other. Steven’s parents thought that my parents were losing their daughter to them, so after all those years raising her as a good daughter, it was reasonable to ask compensation. My parents married in 1958 all by themselves with a group of their coworkers and friends. They practically put two single beds together, after giving a few candies to everyone who came for the wedding.
     Steven went back to China and married my sister there, then came back to the US to start the immigration process. It took another two years before my sister was able to join him in NH. His parents had a formal wedding banquet in Chinatown with ten tables. Each table had ten people. The newlyweds had to kneel down on the floor and bow to the sky, the ground, both parents, and each other. I only saw this in old Chinese movies. The banquet food covered almost everything, seafood of every kind, chicken, pork, beef…plus a wedding cake. It was beautiful.
     They had a boy and girl. They moved away from NH down south since my sister could not stand the cold winter in the north. Steven wanted to live his own life away from his parents’ shadow. He was out of the restaurant business, eating less and his high cholesterol was in normal range again. His whole family used to go to gambling places every Christmas when they closed their restaurants. My sister, my mother, and I never went with them. They now stayed home for Christmas for three years. My sister is teaching Chinese in the local Chinese school.
     Steven’s parents were heartbroken when all their kids gave up their restaurant business. It was a perfect business in which the whole family could be working together. However, their kids got tired of waiting on tables, long working hours, and no weekends and holidays. They all moved down South, and bought their own houses. They left their parents no choice but to sell one business, and hired all the other employees for the other restaurant.
Pao's (鲍) Family Garden

For Chinese Women, Marriage Depends On Right 'Bride Price' Payback for my grandmother's generation.

Going Back to Work Full Time

Although my parents gave $4000 for the kids, my parents did not feel comfortable using my husband’s money for trips. I told them I worked at home whenever there was a project. My mom felt sorry for me not working after being in school for so long. She wanted me to find a job, and we thought it best for me to find a part time job nearby. I went to the library and found the local job postings. There was a job at a local emergency response center. Sara, who studied wildlife before and now was working in the accounting department, wanted me to work full-time right away.  I told her that I would go home and discuss it with my parents since they were the ones who were going to watch my three sons during the day. After I told them I found a full time job, my father said he would stay for a year to help me out. My mom did not say anything.
     I was shocked to walk into the office and find a woman at my desk working. Sara told me that she was leaving and she did get up and leave. She looked like she had been crying. I was very uncomfortable to watch her go; I could have worked part time. My officemates told me that she had a lot of personal problems and she just could not do her job. Very soon, I found out that the billing was a mess; cash was not posted into the right account or posted more than once.
     The supervisor Kathy was a single mom. She flew through whatever she wanted me to know in five minutes, and then the phone rang. She went to pick up her phone at her desk. She wanted me to ask her questions if I had any. Yes, I did have questions; she wanted me to write them down and she would take care of them. I would not hear from her again.
     I was familiar with the DOS system while in college, which soon switched to Windows. Lee set up the whole system, so I went to see him. In the beginning, he was very defensive while explaining to me how his system worked. Slowly, he became very supportive after I showed him the problems. The problems were both human errors and system problems. I asked him to show me how to fix the human errors. For example, double posting cash so the customer would not get the bill. Cash posted into the wrong customer’s account. System errors occurred such as new customers did not show up in billing. These were things that his program was supposed to do. He wanted me to give him a list of what I wanted the system to do; he then wrote patch programs to improve his system. I wanted his program to print a list of cash posting amounts that did not match the billing amounts, likely posted to the wrong customer. I wanted his program to catch double payments in the same month.
     He did all the things that I wanted him to do. I was happy how much easier that made my job, when you talk about over 10,000 customers for billing and cash posting.
     I showed Kathy all the double postings and asked her to be careful in the future. Double-check the print out. I did not tell upper management. She did not show up the next day; she called in sick. Then a week went by, so I called her, and asked her if she was better. She said she was not better; she would not be back working anymore, and she was looking for another job. I told her that we do need her here; I hoped she would not take anything personal about the mistakes I found. She said it was good that I found all those mistakes and I should be the next supervisor. She had been there over five years, and Lee had never helped her. I came in for a few weeks; and he was so cooperative to help me.
     Lee told me that 20 years before, he and the owner George were sent to find a buyer for the company, but instead George brought the company himself. The two of them had been running it since. He had not written any programs for so long and he forgot most of the language. Everyone who came had always complained about his system; they wanted the owner to change his old DOS to a Windows-based program. So he had been on the defense for years. I was the first one who was willing to work with him and helped him improve his system.
     I told him that I was privileged working with programmer. Buying a new program package with a telephone-sized manual without on-site support would be worse. Not to mention, it would cost a lot of money to replace the system, money the company did not have.
     His son came in to work with him on college breaks, so I asked about his wife, he said, “which one?” I was shocked and asked how many did he have?; he said three in his over 50 years. He was living with his girlfriend now.
     In one year, I cleaned up the billing, was promoted three times, and became the supervisor. Some customers who called wanted to speak to me only. “ I want to speak with that girl with Irish accent.” We thought it was very funny. It was not funny for me; every one of my customers had a sad story. They just wanted to talk many times since I corrected their billing. One sent me a picture of her dog; later, her daughter called to cancel the services because her mother had died.
     Most of the people working there were young high school dropout kids. They came and went at a high turnover rate. Our customers were mostly old, sick, and dying; most stayed as clients for three months to a year. I had over 10,000 customers for billing each month. We had a data entry center, and just entered new and took out old clients. Also, a monitoring center was open 24/7. One morning when I walked into the office, a girl was crying, and I asked her why. Her supervisor had yelled at her for something that was not her fault. I checked into it and agreed with her. So, I told her to explain to her supervisor or I could go to her supervisor to help her explain. I did not like her supervisor even though I only dealt with him once when I asked him about his morning report. Instead of giving me the report, he let me wait so he could finish eating his popcorn at 9 AM. Then, he showed me how many kinds of vitamins he took everyday.
     The girl told me not to talk to her supervisor because she really needed this job; she needed to pay her mom rent or she would become homeless. I was joking with her; now, your mom cannot kick you out, can she? She said that was not funny; she was homeless before when her mom kicked her out. Yet her mother kept her dog. Sad to say, she was fired two weeks later.
     I felt so bad for both ends of the wire at the monitoring center. Our side were all teenagers struggling very hard to keep their heads above water. The other side were old, dying, and struggling very hard to live. One day when I walked out of the accounting office, I saw this boy’s hair glowing blue. I thought I was at the computer for too long, but it turned out that this boy had dyed his hair blue. As low as their income was hourly, they spent their money like there was no tomorrow. So before payday came, they were broke already. They ordered their lunch everyday. Every now and then, one lunch would be short. The delivery guy said he delivered all the orders, and the one who did not get the lunch ended up crying. I brought my lunch everyday from home. Their parents should have taught them how to use their money wisely.
     One day, our CFO brought in her sister-in-law. She wanted Sara to train her how to do her job, so Sara did not have any choice but to teach her. A few weeks later, Sara was forced out. I had a very hard time accepting Sara’s leaving since we had so much in common. The sister-in-law was not very good to work with. Once she ordered some very expensive computer supplies on-line, and Lee was upset. I told her she should really have asked Lee since it was his field of expertise. She was upset with me and wanted me to have a private talk with her in the office. Basically she wanted me on her side no matter what. I was shocked to see her putting her own interests above the company. As it was, our company was struggling to pay bills. I decided to look for another job.  Sadly this company does not exit anymore.

     I moved on to another full time accounting job nearby my home. I had a lot of adjustments to make after being at home for 10 years taking care of my children. Moreover, I did not to notice my parents also went through a huge change, suddenly becoming grandparents in a foreign country with a foreign son-in-law. One day my cousin in the UK called; he called me one day when I was not at home. My father told him a lot of things my cousin did not think could be true. I suddenly realized that my father had not smoked for almost a year without any complaints. I had not noticed anything wrong at home. My parents and I went up to the 3rd floor for a closed-door meeting. My mom did not have a word to say and my father started crying. He said he was sorry about complaining about me to my cousin; he did not know what he was saying. I was crying as well; I told them that I was sorry for not paying much attention to them after work. I took them for granted since they were my parents. If they wanted to return to China, I could always stay home again till my kids were a little older. After a long cry, my parents decided to stay a few more years till Joseph was older since they really loved him and were attached to him.

My Parents Came To Visit

In 1999, we bought a Toyota Sienna since our 3rd son would soon be born and my parents were coming. My father had never visited the US. He did not like me bugging him to quit smoking, I asked him to come for a visit and he kept refusing until now. My father brought two cartons of cigarettes; I told him he had to go outside of the house to smoke and after he finish his two cartons, I would not buy anymore. He smoked two packs, and then quit cold turkey.
     We took my parents along with us on a car trip up to Arcadia National Park. We enjoyed walking around Bar Harbor then driving through the national park and up Cadillac Mountain. It was the first time for me to climb a mountain next to the ocean. We had lobsters for dinner. It was our first long family vacation.
     After we returned home, Richard broke his elbow while playing with his friends in the backyard. After spending four hours in our local hospital, they recommended us to go to Children’s Hospital because Richard needed surgery. We had our two cars parked at the local hospital, then rode with Richard via the ambulance to Boston about 6 PM. We waited for another four hours till midnight. The surgery was supposed to take over one hour; I was scared because one of the sisters in Jonathan’s class died from a very simple surgery in the same hospital a few years before. So I told Richard to make sure to wake up when I called him later. He did not cry when they wheeled him in, considering he was only five years old. Anthony and I were the only ones in the waiting room. Three hours later, he finally came out. The surgeon said he was trying to reset it; at first, but it did not work, so it took awhile. I went to Richard right away, try to wake him up, he answered me, but he went right back to sleep.
     After a few months when I took him back to have the screws removed from his elbow, he was screaming and wanted the doctor to put him to sleep first even though the doctor said it would not hurt. It sure looked like it was going to hurt. The doctor went out, and came back three times before Richard finally allowed him to remove the screws. That was the first time I went to the children’s hospital. I am so grateful that our children are healthy.
     My friend Wei-lin and her parents came to visit her as well. Together our two families visited Howe Caverns; they said they had seen better ones in China since they were all geologists. Then we went to visit our graduate college where we had spent eight years, and the neighborhood where Jonathan spent his first two years. We stayed with Anthony’s parents in Rochester overnight then visited Niagara Falls.

Joseph Was Born, My Youngest Aunt Ju-hua (举华) Died

My youngest son Joseph Maximilian Brach was born in the Spring of 1998. Since Joseph was Anthony’s both grandfather’s name, father’s middle name, and youngest brother Kevin’s middle name, we named our son Joseph. We gave him the middle name Maximilian after St. Maximilian Kolbe. I was sorry that I did not name a Joseph earlier since I kept having boys; now their grandfather on both sides should be happy.
     Anthony took Jonathan and Richard came to see the baby in the hospital, the baby was not in my room so Jonathan stayed with me in the room; Anthony and Richard went to the nursery to get our baby. The nurse decided that they should wheel the baby’s nursery bed to my room, so the boys could enjoy their little brother. Richard was so excited and he was half running trying to keep up with everyone walking in the hallway to my room. He said, “Daddy, wait until mommy sees the baby we picked out for her.”
     When I called my mother to tell her the good news, she started to cry. First I thought she was too happy, then realized that something really bad happened. After a long cry, she finally told me that my aunt, her youngest sister had died while crossing street. My mother did not want to give me stress while I was expecting Joseph knowing that I was very close to her. I suddenly realized that I did have a few dreams about her, and told Anthony at the time.
     She died on Jan 7th, 1998, exactly the same day her older brother died two years before. She was only 53. I received a letter she wrote a week before she died. That was the first and last letter she wrote to me, she was talking about her family, her two daughters. Her letter reminded me of the good times that we had in Zigong years before. I missed her so I dreamed that we went shopping together. The street looked like the street in US, but crowded with Chinese people. Then we were at a crosswalk waiting for the light to turn with many other people. When the walk light came on, I was ready to cross, but my aunt was not next me, I turned around looking for her in the crowd, but I could not find her. I was worried in my dream; I was looking all over for her.
She did not cross at crosswalk. My dream made sense now. 
     I felt so bad. My youngest aunt died on the same day as my youngest uncle; what kind of fate was that? I asked my mom how much money I should send to her family since it was so late. She said she already sent money with my name too. Still I sent $150 to them to make myself feel better. Strange things happened after that; I dreamed that my aunt came to visit me in my house here in US. She brought two tickets to watch a play "Miss Saigon" at the Wang Theater in Boston. She told me that she would watch my three boys; Anthony and I could go since we had never went out alone. Although it was my wish to watch the play at the time. I asked her why she spent money on me since she or me could not really afford the tickets. Chinese money was 8 Yuan to 1 dollar at the time. We were in our unfinished basement arguing about the tickets. I did not question why we were down there instead of my living room or kitchen; in my dream, it was almost normal and accepted. It only felt strange after I woke up. Then my cousin returned my check with a thank you card. Somehow I did not date the check. She could not cash the check in China. That was weird because I never forget to put the date on the right corner when I wrote a check. My aunt must have known that we were struggling with Anthony’s salary alone raising a family of five with a huge mortgage to pay. She must have made me forget the date. I dated the check and sent it out again.
     My youngest aunt used to take me on her shoulders back and forth to the local clinic. I was sick almost all the time.  I spent a lot of time with her when I was living with my grandparents.

My Youngest Uncle (Guan Ju-biao官举彪) Died

My youngest uncle (官举彪) died from a shrimp allergy on Jan 7th, 1995 at age 57. He did not know he was allergic to ocean shrimp. His oldest son came home from the southeast Hainan Island with jumbo shrimps (farm raised/pollutions?). He was swollen right after, but no one in the hospital knew why since he lived so far inland. He wanted to wait till his son left before going to see doctor since his son only came home once a year for a few days. It was too late when he went to the hospital; he could not breathe because he was drowning. His three sisters and oldest brothers were surrounding his bed; he was begging to his big brother. “Help me, brother, I cannot breathe.” My mom said it was helpless, they watched him died.
     My oldest uncle still cries when he talks about his little brother.     In the Cultural Revolution (1960s), my youngest uncle was dragged out from his house and put on display as a Russian spy, since he went to Kiev Polytechnic Institute for college and knew seven languages. They raided his home and took away all his valuables, since they could not find any evidence of wrongdoing. They even took away his radio, so he had no way of knowing what was going on in the outside world. One day, someone pushed him down from a high place and he broke his neck; he almost died. His wife Wang (王) took him to the hospital right away; his life was saved, but his neck was set looking forward only; he could not turn or move his head around anymore. He could not bend his back either; he was like a robot afterward. He also had Tuberculosis.
 Guan Ju Biao (官举彪) #15 in boys) July 14, 1937 to January 7, 1995.  He went to Kiev Polytechnic Institute to study Electrical Engineering in 1957, then the University of Electronic Science and Technology of China (成都电讯工程学院). He worked for the National Defense Factory
    I had dreamed about someone who was surrounded by a group of people. The man was so pale and I could not figure out who the man was. The next day, I was joking to my husband that I hoped Fred was okay since he often needed the ambulance and fire department’s emergency help in the middle of the night. Anthony said, “you and your dreams. How could I never remember my dreams?". Later on when I saw Fred’s wife, she told me that Fred was fine. Not long after, my mom described how my youngest uncle died. I realized that my uncle was in my dream. After all, he was the one right there like my father when I came into this world. He had two boys and I was the daughter he did not have. He showered me with gifts when I was young, and tried to take my pictures when I was mad. I was very sad about his passing, why him? He suffered so much. Now his kids had grown up, and he was retired. He should have enjoyed his life a little. It scared me thinking about his being gone.
I did dream about him later. It was at a train station; I used to take an overnight train to visit him and his family. Somehow, I was walking alongside the train trying to board. He was walking towards me from the opposite direction. He walked by me telling me to go to his house for dinner. So we were passing by. Then I kept walking along the train, trying to find a car to get on. My uncle walked towards me the second time; he was telling me the same thing while passing by me. He was trying to tell me something. He wanted me go to visit his home.
His oldest son made good money for a few years; he had a girlfriend who gave him a son. He told me the boy was not his. He never intended to marry her so she took the boy back home to her farm. I did try to ask our family Guan to keep the boy, but nobody was interested. Soon the money was gone and he lost his good job. His younger brother stayed with their parents after he graduated from the University; he could never hold a job for long. Our family had been helping them. Now my uncle did not want us to abandon his family after he was gone.
   VITAS 2010.03.05 聖母頌 / Ave Maria_Moscow 

Sunday, February 17, 2013

The Trip to Visit China in 1996

I dreamed that I went back to China, and was often lost there because I didn’t know where my parents’ apartment was. Or I was somehow working at the same institute where I was before, only there was something missing that I needed to come back to America.
     A surprise chance to visit China came up when Anthony was to attend a meeting in Kunming in my neighboring province. Originally, we had planned to see my cousins in the UK. The decision came after April. We balanced our budget. Yes, we had enough money to take our family of four. The excitement came both within our family and back in China. My mom sent me information on possible site-seeing. My brother wanted us to visit him in Hainan, the little island called “The Hawaii of the Orient.” My aunts and uncles wrote that they would come to see us at my parents’ place if we could not make it to their place.
     Then the fear of this long trip came when Flight_800 exploded in the air right before our trip to China. I started to rethink whether it was the right time to go to China, even though our children had all the necessary shots. Just the long flight itself made me feel very nervous. The tickets were already booked. My brother had already made calls to finalize the airline tickets within China. My father-in-law was going with us too. Everything was ready but I didn’t want to go anymore. I didn’t want to risk all my children. The only thing that I could do was to pray for God’s protection from danger, evil, disease, and disaster. Jonathan got chicken pox on the last day of preschool. Two weeks later, Richard got it too. Fortunately, they were better before we left.
     Our Flight was scheduled to depart at 6:00 PM from Boston to Chicago. Our neighbor Una’s husband gave us a ride to the airport. We arrived in Chicago about 8:00 PM. For some reason, our plane could not land yet. We circled over Chicago for about one hour. Finally, we landed and ran to the connecting flight to China. We ended up in the last few rows of the plane. Anthony’s father was excited to say that he had never been on a Boeing this big before. However, it was not as new as the one that I took ten years before. We waited and waited. “We have some mechanical problems and our mechanics are trying to fix it right now,” the announcement said. Then we heard this “hong, hong” underneath our seats. It sounded like a car that would not start, only much louder. “Oh, my God, please help us, there are no places to land on the Pacific Ocean.” We waited and waited. We ate another dinner at 1:00 AM although we already had dinner. Anthony’s father was impressed with the Jumbo Cocktail Shrimp to start, followed by chicken or pork for dinner. We never had this kind of dinner on the plane. It did distract us for awhile from the noise underneath the plane. After dinner, the plane was still not fixed, so they sent us to a hotel nearby with our carry-ons only. We dragged along Jonathan and Richard since they were almost sleep.
     We waited outside for a shuttle bus. Unfortunately, there was only one bus available at this hour. It was already 3:00 AM. In order to speed up the process, airport employees volunteered their own cars to drop us off at the hotel. A man with his minivan came. “Families with children first please,” he said. Five of us plus another man boarded his van. “I am George; I am a school teacher, working at the airport on the weekends. I know the hotel nearby, but I cannot promise no wrong turns.” He drove us from the airport to the hotel. He wondered for a second at intersections. We arrived at the Sheraton, but it was the wrong one. He turned around and used his car phone to talk for awhile. Finally, we arrived at the right one. We finally settled down in our room and put the kids to sleep. I was still excited and could not sleep. So, I turned on CNN. “An unexploded pipe bomb was found on a Chicago Airport runway early in the evening. No one knows how it got there.” “Oh my, that’s why we were circling above in the sky for a hour,” Anthony said. “I thought I heard someone talking about a pipe bomb after we landed. Then the News continued, “A student shot his professor and fellow student in California… An unidentified woman’s body was found in the woods of Chicago, etc.” That’s enough news. I turned off TV and tried to get some sleep.
     Finally, we started the long flight the next day. We arrived at Beijing International Airport at midnight. It was drizzling and muggy. Our plane was the only one to land at this late hour. Here, we were in China. I could even smell it. We got off the plane, and we used the bathroom, which was a pretty good one. Yet, Anthony’s father took a picture because it was squat Asian kind.
      At 5:30 AM the next day, I awoke and looked out our window. A young man was making pancakes outside with a coal stove and a little table. A young woman just came out from a shelter made from some old plastic. She looked like she just woke up and started to comb her hair. I realized that the little shelter must be their home. A few minutes later, she too started to work by cleaning the vegetables for filling the buns her husband was preparing. Suddenly, I felt tears rolling down my face. Poor things, that’s all they had. What a hard life! I was wondering what they were going to do in the winter when it was freezing cold. They had to take the stove inside of their shelter, I guess.
     I went downstairs and went outside the hotel gate where there was a guard or gatekeeper already up. I walked to the man who was making pancakes. “How much are those pancakes?,” I asked. “1.75 Yuan,” he answered. I asked for four and gave him 10 Yuan and he said that I was his first customer so he had no change for me yet. I told him to keep the change. Then I went further down the street. I saw a farmer with a load of fresh peaches. They looked so fresh and big. I got two pounds of peaches. I spent less than two dollars and I was going to feed a family of five. Everyone enjoyed his or her breakfast.
     The morning sun had gone up to the sky. I was so shocked to see how small Tiananmen was compared to the new skyscrapers of foreign corporations. I remembered my long walk around Tiananmen Square the first time when I came to Beijing for a business trip. Now the taxi took us in minutes. Then I noticed the cars, bicyclists, and the pedestrians. The city looked like a big fair. Traffic policemen were busy directing the traffic with the help of the lights. What a mass of people!
       While waiting at the airport, I took Jonathan and Richard to the restrooms. Everyone seemed to be interested to see my mixed children. I lined up to use the bathroom while talking to the people inside. People behind me kept sneaking into the bathroom one by one before me. When the next one was free, the one behind me was already in front of me ready to go in. The lady talking to me stopped her.  The one behind me just smiled back. I suddenly woke up that I was in China with many curious people; so after that, I simply said “I am babysitting these children.”  That worked and people moved on after that answer.
     We boarded a Russian-made plane to Kunming. It was steamy hot inside the plane because the air conditioner was broken. An announcement told us it would cool down when the plane took off. Jonathan was all red and kept asking for a drink. Richard was pretty good. It did get better after the plane took off. The seats were not as good as on the Boeing, of course. It was cloudy most of the way to the southwest until we were close to Kunming.
     The weather in Kunming was sunny, cool, and windy. The meeting organizer had a van waiting for us outside. While loading our luggage, I noticed that one of the men looked very familiar. I couldn’t recall where we met before. Then the bus took us to the hotel where the meeting was going to be. Although I had been in the city three times before, I could hardly recognize anything as we passed through the city. Everyone was in a hurry. The driver had to break suddenly several times to avoid hitting people.
     In the daytime, when Anthony and his father were at their meeting, I took the kids to look around. There was a farmer’s market right across the street. It was so familiar to me except with much more choices of everything. Then, I saw cages of chickens for sale. The customer could pick the live chicken, and the seller could kill and clean it while you waited. Jonathan and Richard were petting the chickens first, then saw the whole process. They were shocked to know how chickens came to our dinner table. I explained the whole thing to Jonathan. “Oh!,” he replied. I regretted letting them see the whole thing almost immediately, because I recalled that we told him how lobsters and crabs in the little aquarium of the supermarket came to our dinner table, so he refused to eat them. Chicken was one his favorite foods. We had chicken for dinner that day. They seemed to forget all about how the chicken came to our table.
     The third day, one of my brother’s friends, who was the manager for a small perfume company, came with his company’s van and took us to the “Stone Forest” and “Western Hills.” Personally, I had visited both places and it would be a very tight schedule for both places in one day because they were in opposite directions. Taking along two kids and being my father-in-law’s interpreter would not be a fun trip. After the Stone Forest, I was ready to go back to Kunming without visiting the Western Hills. However, my father-in-law really wanted to go, so we went. It was an easier trip because we took the cable car up. My father-in-law climbed up by himself because he was scared that maybe the cable car could not support his weight.  I was terrified up there with Richard and asked the driver to take Jonathan on his car. It looked like we could fall though. I kept looking back to see Jonathan and told him to sit still. Richard was holding me very tightly. He must have noticed the height.
      By the time we finally reached the top, my father-in-law was already there. He said that if there were no people in front of him, he would have gotten there faster. We looked down and far away to Kunming and the Lake. The cars down below looked like little matchbox cars that my sons had at home. My sons, of course, didn’t have any fear of being at the top at all. They wanted us to pick them up to look down. I was scared now even though I was not scared ten years before when I came here to the same spot. Maybe, because I had my children now.
     The next day, we packed up our stuff and checked out, and waited at the lobby for the bus to take us to the airport.  While we sat waiting, I saw the man who picked up us at airport. We both noticed each other this time. We looked at each other. “Did we meet somewhere before,” I asked. We started to talk. Finally, we figured out that we were in the same English training class for awhile. He was not able to go abroad. Now, he was married with one child.
     It was a smooth ride to the airport and our plane was on time. About 4 PM, we arrived at the Chengdu Airport on time. I saw my father waiting outside. After we checked our baggage, we went out, and we saw my father, sister, and uncle. It was the first time for Jonathan and Richard to see them, although Jonathan said that he “met” my father before, not my sister or uncle.
     My parent’s condo looked about the same except it was older since they did not do any remodeling. I did find a lot of things still the same. I felt at home right away. We had dinner and my favorite wine made by nuns in Mount_Qingcheng.  My father-in-law was not feeling well. After dinner, my brother came back with a lot of tropical fruits that did not help my in-law’s stomach.
     The next evening, my father-in-law started to have chills and was sweating. He looked really weak and pale. My father insisted that we should send him to the hospital for a checkup, maybe get an IV for dehydration. My father-in-law was scared and did not want to go. After an hour of persuasion, he agreed to go to the clinic at my parent’s institute. It was almost 10 PM; the doctor there could not get any lab results because the lab has closed. Therefore, she suggested that we should go to the Provincial Hospital that was better equipped. My father and I took him by taxi to the hospital. When we arrived, there were few patients. Since all the patients were waiting inside the doctors’ office while the doctor was checking and talking to other patients, it seemed very crowded without any privacy.  My father-in-law started crying and regretted coming with us; he thought he would die in China. 
     My father went to find an English-speaking doctor. He came back with one 15 minutes later. The doctor came and checked my father-in-law and asked whether he had any other health problems. He ordered a stool sample. I took him to the bathroom. You couldn’t imagine how awful the bathroom looked to him since he was weak. I was telling him that it was not that bad and he was in good hands.
     It took about 30 minutes for all the lab results. We took them to the doctor. He said that my father-in-law was fine, no bacterial infections, just severely dehydrated. I asked him whether he needed an IV. He said it was not necessary. He gave him a few packages of powder to mix with water to drink. My father-in-law felt much better even without any medicine yet.
    He was better again. My brother rented a car for us for a few days. He took us to the Chengdu Zoo where my children and Anthony and his Dad saw a real Giant Panda for the first time. We went to a few other parks where Anthony and his father enjoyed the oriental gardens.
     Then my brother’s friend took my father-in-law to Mt. Emei, a mountain from 500 to 3000 meters elevation.  They drove up and came down by foot.  It was raining, so my brother’s friend suggested to just drive down.  He refused; he wanted to walk down in the cold rain since he had outdoor gear.  He was surprised why they did not prepare for the trip.  He came home after the three-day trip and ached all over.
     My mom took out the last quarter bottle of Tiger Bone Liquor, it looked like dark scotch.  My father-in-law curiously watching my mom put it into a shot glass.  He held it for a minute, still wondering whether he should drink it. So he took a very little sip.  “Oh! Very good!” He took a bigger sip, then finished it in no time.  The next day, he told us that he was much better.  He loved the Tiger Bone Liquor so much that he finished the remainder in the bottle without any of us noticing.  He wanted more; I told him he should know the Tiger Bone ban has been effect for quite a long time now.  This leftover liquor had been in my home for many years. Now, there was no more!
     My mom went out the next morning; she was gone all day without letting us know where she was going.  It was almost dinnertime when she came back without saying a word.  Later on my aunt told me that my mom went to every one of her places for rare things, hoping to find Tiger Bone Liquor, but failed.
     We flew to Haikou where my brother worked. He met us at the airport and took us on a car trip down the island to Sanya.  Although it was hot there, at least there was the ocean breeze. Our hotel was right by the ocean.  The sand was so white and the water was so clear and warm, but the waves were very strong.  I was a little scared of going in too far from the sandy beach.  I watched my husband took Richard and his father take Jonathan to ride the waves away from the shore, a little farther and father away to the point I could hardly see them.  I started screaming, “Come back, Come back… you are too far away…” That night I had a terrible dream, I dreamed the water was getting higher and higher, and our hotel was submerged in the ocean.  I guess it was the sound of waves, being too close to the water made me uncomfortable. 
     My brother drove us to the south end of the island called the “End of the Earth” and all the major sites on the island. We also went to the local aquarium. We saw the biggest spider we ever saw, and its web on the side of the road, so we had to take a picture.  We never saw that many crocodiles in one place; a local school kid was killed a few years later after we visited because he thought they were sleeping and somehow got inside. It was a horrifying scene because no one could help him when so many crocodiles attacked him at the same time.
Jonathan trying to eat steamed sea urchin
Jonathan pointing to where we were
Jonathan and Richard loved my brother's carved hardwood chairs

Tiger Farms in China Feed Thirst for Parts