My amazing mother throughout the ages. Born in 1919, raised in Hunan, China, she likes acting and sports. She receives a scholarship to study in the US, while China is in turmoil, and has to undergo military training. It takes her almost a year to get here, on boat, via India. Meets my father at U of Michigan. They date, (and seem to be truly in love!), marry. They are stranded when China’s political system changes in 1949. She scrambles to find work, and does at the United Nations. She is completely cut off from her family in China until we can finally visit in 1972. She continues working at the UN for four decades and receives a graduate degree somewhere in there, while having 1, 2, then 3 kids (I am the baby, and nicknamed “choppy head” for good reason.) Throughout, she remains elegant, and finds time for tennis and many other activities, such as t’ai chi, where at 50+ years of age, she breaks a brick! Did I mention she’s an awesome cook and can beat anyone at mah jong?
She is 97 this year, and as lovely and lucid as ever. She is my role model because despite having lived through war, intense political instability in China in the 30’s and 40’s, and then intense uncertainty and discrimination here, she not only survived, but thrived, always carrying a positive attitude.
While perusing these old photos, I realize how important it is to understand your parents before they become parents. Parents, responsible ones anyway, inevitably fall into roles and routines. It is not completely who they are. (This is precisely the subject of my friend Tracy Barone’s new novel, HAPPY FAMILY, incidentally.)
Let us today celebrate the extraordinary women who also become mothers.