There were a lot of cultural differences both within and outside our home, but she never gave up her standards or values.
What is the most important thing you have learned from your mother or daughter? (妳從母親／女兒學到的最重要的是甚麼?)
To respect your elders — not just show respect but care for them when they need you. After my Agōng had a stroke, my mom would fly back to Taiwan every few months to help take care of him. This went on for several years. Sometimes she describes how he was when she was younger…an old school kind of dad…reading his newspaper, legs crossed, looking up sternly when she said “Ba…” She was nervous because she needed money for school books but was scared to ask. Still, however stern and distant he might have been he was her father, so she took care of him when he needed her.
Tell us about the ways that your mother makes you proud. (妳母親／女兒讓你感到驕傲的是甚麼?)
My mother moved to the U.S. in her early 20s. She had no community here and we moved around a lot because my father was in the air force. There were a lot of cultural differences both within and outside our home, but she never gave up her standards or values. I think this must have been particularly hard because there were very few Taiwanese around and my father is an all-American kind of guy. Still, she didn’t assimilate. It wasn’t like she wore a t-shirt with “Wo Ai Taiwan!!” emblazoned on it or the flag tattooed on her shoulder. She simply made lifestyle choices (which may or may not be considered Taiwanese) and stuck to them. Growing up I always knew that there are alternative belief systems and standards. Sometimes they clash but it’s just as natural for them to coexist.
When I was little my father, brother and I would go to Catholic mass then scoop up my mom and go to Pizza Hut. I loved Pizza Hut! There was no conflict in this arrangement. Catholicism wasn’t for my mom and she wasn’t going to attend church just because we did or just because the majority of people were Christian. She was Buddhist and had her own beliefs and practices. Period.
What is one thing that you would like your mother to know? (有那件事是妳希望讓妳的母親／女兒知道的?)
I would like her to know that there are things communicated between mother and daughter that can never be verbalized, which is probably for the best because we might do some sort of damage to each other. We’ve had our arguments but it strengthens who we are.
When I have children she is required to teach them Taiwanese and to be close by so they can run over to her any time they need to. I hope that I am able to be as determined as she was in raising me and in sticking to her values.