1986年從日本醫院退休後，我的父母開始半年在台灣、半年在美國的生活。父親1994年去世以來，母親在台灣的時間越來越少。 同時，她對美國文化的興趣變得更加強烈。 除了參加「英語作為第二語言」的課程之外，她還養成了觀看美國職棒聯盟比賽的嗜好。這位亞洲老人家頻繁出現在紐約的Shea體育場開始引起人們的注意。 地方電台希望派新聞記者作現場拍攝，由她的英文老師打電話傳達這個要求；一向 低調的她毫不猶豫地婉拒了。
二零一二年一月，在參加舍妹的二兒婚禮後不久，我獨自在高雄市漫步，來到歷史博物館前，注意到正好有大寮張簡家族史的展覽。 當母親跟家人一起，看到家庭照片和故事成為公眾討論的一部分，她該是多麼高興。 地方史被忽視了數百年之後，我們很欣慰地看到它受到重視，大家有救贖的感覺。
Shwu Lih Lin
Mother is a very modest person. However, there are things she took pride in, and rightly so. For one, she was proud to be educated as a pharmacist. Secondly, she valued the experiences of growing up in the Chang-Chien family of Daliao, now part of the Kaohsiung City, Taiwan. Let me explain:
While the four children of hers grew up, she always wore several hats in her waking hours as a child educator, household manager, and pharmacist for my father’s clinic; all are un-paid, demanding tasks. To us, this is as natural as the sky above, and the air we breathe. After we reached adulthood and became independent, my parents relocated to Japan. No longer up to the stress of running a clinic, my father accepted a physician’s position in a rural area of Ibaraki, Japan. Several years later, they ended up in Okayama. One day, a pharmacist position became available in the hospital. After learning about her professional background, they gladly offered her the job. Only recently, through the diligent document preservation work of my sister Suhua, the photo of her license issued in 1984 by the Japanese government became available to us. Graduated from Showa Women’s Pharmacy College in 1943, during WWII, she finally worked and got paid as a pharmacist at the age of 63.
Another document my sister Suhua painstakingly secured in our family storage room in Fangshan is the botany class notebook taken in the 1940s, when she studied pharmacy in Japan. Drawing after drawing of leaves and flower structure of plants all came alive in front of our eyes. It was like a metaphor, foretelling her lifelong tireless work in the family garden.
After the retirement from the hospital in Japan in 1986, my parents started to divide their time between Taiwan and United States. Since my father’s passing in 1994, mother spent much less time in Taiwan. Meanwhile, her adoption of American culture was making good progress. In addition to attending “English as a Second Language classes,” she developed a hobby of watching American major league baseball games. This Asian Grandma’s frequent appearance at the Shea Stadium in New York was not gone unnoticed. One day, her teacher at the English class called to convey request from a radio station for reporter to cover her attendance in the game. She avoided the publicity without any hesitation.
Living in a foreign country and often spent time alone, she never complained,. Instead, she found ways to apply her knowledge in things around the house, such as formulating an effective dosage of boric acid based mixture for controlling the household insects; advising granddaughter about curing wort by dietary supplement. To conserve resources, she sorted used paper towels according to the suitability for miscellaneous reuse. In her final frail state, she would attempt to wipe off the tiny spills while we fed her liquid food.
She shared stories of growing up in the Chang-Chien household in Daliao from time to time, when the occasion happened to bring her memory alive. Only recently, she described to me the detailed recipe and process of preserving lamb meat in the household. The family had thrived from smart farming and sugar production. Since childhood, we learned that her father was a mayor of the village of Daliao during the period of Japanese rule. He earned the respect of fellow villagers and hired workers. So the Japanese governments trusted himj. The Chang-Chien last name became well-known in Southern Taiwan, as a result of the many medical doctors the family produced since the 1940s. At a time when education of girls was only secondary, my grandfather let daughters advance as far as their ability and desire took them. My mother carried the torch along to our generation, trying hard to support her daughters’ standing in the family.
In January, 2012, shortly after the wedding of my sister’s second son, I was strolling alone in the city of Kaohsiung and noticed, in front of the Kaohiung Historic Museum, an exhibition about the Chang-Chien family in Daliao. What a joy my mother must have to see family photos and stories becoming part of public discussions. There was a sense of redemption among us in witnessing local history being emphasized after centuries of neglect.
Love for Taiwan runs in our family. At this moment, my daughter Stephanie and her husband are spending their second night in Taroko Gorge National Park in the East Coast of Taiwan. They booked the trip way before my Mom’s condition deteriorated. Stephanie made a special effort to visit Grandma before departure. We haven’t told them the bad news yet. I simply asked Stephanie to express their thoughts in case something happened.
Here is her message:
When she reached her 90s, I started observing her closely at family gathering to preserve details in my memory: delicate rings on her fingers, her facial bone structure, the way she would tend to her potted plants and flowers, how she took a teaspoon taste of home-made teriyaki sauce to assess its readiness for the next phase of dish preparation. I made a point to take selfies of us together. I am so grateful she was present at my wedding. She often asked about Alex, my husband. He referred to her as a central, unifying force in our family. A-ma, I will miss you.
Now that you are united with Father, may you live in heavenly peace. We would always remember you with deep gratitude, for the examples you set for us, and the unconditional love you gave to us.
Mother attended granddaughter’s wedding in 2018
Source from Shwu Lih Lin
Posted in 01/2020