Recently I received an email from an old friend who told me that he admired my strength. I want to tell you where my strength comes from. People who know me personally will be surprised.
My father has held a strong influence in my life, but my strength comes from my mother.
My mother was born in China. In her late teens, she emigrated to the United States to be with her father. Her mother did not want to leave China, and never did. My mother never saw her mother again.
My parents met in Stockton, California. I don’t think the courtship was very long. They married in Reno, Nevada in 1951. That somehow set a precedent I guess because there has never been a real church wedding in my family. Everybody married in Reno. Well, everybody in the family who ever got married.
Before my dad became a naturalized citizen of the United States, he was reported to INS as an illegal alien and had to go to Canada for a brief period, leaving my mom with two little girls to care for. She handled all the legal proceedings in the States, with English being her second language. My mother was never very comfortable speaking English. She always spoke in Chinese to me.
She got flak from her friends about sending me to medical school. Education is wasted on a daughter. And why can’t Eva find a husband? She mentioned this to me only once, and it was in passing. She never gave me grief for chasing my dreams.
Thank you, Mommy, for being behind me, even though I couldn’t see it. I will be home soon, and I will visit your grave. I love you.