May 19, 2022
I haven’t seen my mom since COVID-19 launched its invasion of the world. Three years ago on a hot summer afternoon and 3 hours before I flew into Beijing to conduct a weeklong workshop, I sat on my parents’ concrete pavement eating a bowl of my mom’s dumplings.
The sun left a little shade on one side of the yard. My father placed a tiny table in that shade. The black pavement had absorbed so much heat during the day, and the sun was still up. The heat fully engulfed me from head to toe. My mom sat by my side, lovingly gazing at me as she did when I was very young, while she held a bamboo fan and gently waved it at me to bring some breeze and cool air. Her loving gaze and warm smile are deeply etched in my mind.
On the table and beside the dumplings, she had cooked my other three favorite dishes, which were all within arm’s reach since the table was so small. But my mom kept moving the dishes closer and closer to my dumpling bowl. It was as if she misinterpreted my slowdown in eating to reaching the bowls and not my full stomach.
Remembering this scene sends me further down memory lane. When I was in elementary school and doing homework in the evenings, my mom would sit by my side waving a fan if it was summer. Or peeling an apple if it was fall or winter. She would cut off a small slice of apple and place it into my mouth while I was writing.
My mom was an orphan. Before she was born, her father was drafted during the Chinese civil war. Her mom lost her sanity upon hearing the news of her father’s death. She grew up with her great-grandmother. Back then in old China, girls did not have the privilege of going to school. Therefore, my mom never attended school. But my mom would not allow me to miss the opportunity of getting an education. However, she never placed any pressure on me to do well in school. All she said was: “You know when you have tried your best. If you have done your best, let’s all be happy with the result.”
Let me take back what I just shared about my mom not putting pressure on me to…