Mother’s Distress Day (I)
This Life Time
In this life time,
I wailed, most lost in emotions, twice.
Once, at the beginning of my life.
Once, at the end of your life.
The first time, I would not remember, just hearsay from you.
The second time, you would not know, it’s useless for me to say.
But in between these two times in sounds of wailing,
there were infinite laughter,
time and time again and again,
resonating exactly thirty years.
You know it all, I remember it all.
There was a poetry reading and piano performance to celebrate Mother’s Day this weekend. Inspired and deeply moved by the poet Professor Yu’s three poems on Mother’s Distress Day, the pianist Christiana Chiu-shih Lin composed and performed a beautiful piano piece.
Professor Yu is my favorite Taiwanese poet. Though he taught English and American literature, his poems are all in Chinese.Just want to share the touching poem with this translation (that may not fully convey the poet’s original Chinese words).
For Mother’s Distress Day II:World of Paradox. People celebrate births but mourn deaths. See Chuang Tzu’s quotes on life and death.
Hungary is the featured country at the Taipei Book Fair last week. Though there were illustrious poet and children book author as well as interesting cultural events such as dance, arts,crafts and food, I was drawn to the film director’s talk on his first novel. It was based on his parents’ love letters after they survived the holocaust and his father had terminal tuberculosis.He defied death by writing 117 letters to women at a refugee camp in Sweden to find a wife. “I won’t give myself up to fate.”
He wrote it as a screenplay script originally but could not finance the production. After trying a decade he wrote it as a novel. It was “the talk of London Book Fair” and sold in a nine-way auction. The Chinese translation is available in Taiwan but English would not be available at Amazon till April. A film adaption of the story will be released this year. See trailer below.
This powerful story of love against destiny had a happy ending, the author’s father lived till 1998. Westerners and the younger generation would find it inspiring. The following quotes present different perspectives of destiny, love and loss.
“The troubled mind initially has no roots of problems; love and indebtedness are the seeds.” Su Shih.”To remove waves from the sea of suffering, dry the river of love.”
Su Shih, the millennium charm or best loved character in Chinese culture was three times a widower. His first wife and love of his life died at the young age of twenty-seven. His second wife was a cousin of his first wife who arranged the marriage so her young son would be well cared for. He did not really love his second wife but was greatly indebted to her for caring for the family, in particular he moved countless times due to his career and exile during her life time. His beautiful young concubine was only fourteen at their wedding and their infant son died on the trip when he was recalled from exile. His most beloved beauty fairy died at her early thirties in the wild south during his second exile.He fought long and hard with destiny throughout his life but did not have the luck the Hungarian couple had. His love and loss were not limited to spouse and family, he had many friends and relatives who loved him so much but lost their lives indirectly for him during his exiles.
“Life and death is a matter of destiny, just like day and night is the law of the universe.” Chuang Tzu.
My late husband fought vigorously for ten years with cancer that was diagnosed after the birth of our only son less than a year after our wedding. He won the combat only to be diagnosed with heart failure caused by radiotherapy treatment a decade ago.We struggled with heart failures on and off for another nine years until he refused life support when his heart finally failed waiting for a heart transplant. Altogether we fought for twenty-five years of agonizing medical ordeals because of our deep love for our son, my husband stayed alive so his son would have a complete family. He lived to see his son graduated from college,completed his military service and started on his first job in his dream industry.
X’mas Eve I watched a re-run of CNN heroes and was really inspired by Maggie Doyne, an eighteen year old who became a mom of fifty kids in Nepal from her US$5,000 savings of babysitting money. But the street doctor Dr. Wither’s “I didn’t go under bridges to save homeless people. I went there to save myself and perhaps my profession” really stuck to my mind.
I was shocked to find Maggie Doyne’s adorable baby Ravi whom she saved a year ago died from an accident just around New Year. Loss would be too painful to bear at her young age and yet Ravi was very fortunate to have her lavish motherly love at least for many months. Her natural role becoming a mother with a large family of children makes me jealous, since junior high I had always been attracted to volunteering at orphanages and a few years ago went to Africa to help start a school at an orphanage.But J.K.Rowlings’ work of deinstitutionalization of children in the world at her Lumos charity would be my choice after what I experienced. Not everyone has as much love and energy as Maggie.
I blogged about the homeless in the library but the other day a librarian was beaten by a reader. A nun has been hallucinogenic and yelling loudly from time to time.There are many people with mental illness at the library, some homeless, some angry and disturbed, some schizophrenic. Most of them are babyboomers and once in a while there are students breaking down from the pressure of exams,mumbling and walking back and forth in the courtyard.I wish there were street psychiatrists who would help treat them at the library.Unfortunately psychiatry resources are inadequate even in Taiwan’s medical facilities.
Before the new year, I was struggling to decide if I should continue with my plan to combine writing and doing good through donations of book sales (that do not seem to be working) or do some actual good that would benefit people immediately around me. The homeless and the mentally disturbed would be closest, yet I must admit I am afraid of them and don’t know how to handle them let alone help.Homeless and elderly resources are very limited in Taiwan.
I visited a young couple who started a very successful community on reading and doing good according to the media only to find their target audience of millennials hardly read books and they have trouble paying even their project workers from income on classes for corporations.
The mayor commented he could not understand why seniors account for almost 25% of traffic accidents. I blogged about seniors getting run over before. After talking to some friends at the senior center about my advocating for seniors on safer traffic regulations or public health and safety in urban living, they all feel it will amount to nothing given the Taiwanese mentality and bureacracies and encourage me to keep on going with my writing projects. Senior welfare though loudly promoted, it’s window dressing in reality.
Book reviews of Larissa MacFarquhar’s “Drowning Strangers” on doing good came to the rescue. Hope my recommendations for purchase at the library will come through soon.
“Keep yourself well before you keep others well.”Chuang Tzu.
The charm of the lady flooded the lines in a touching article “Four Weddings and One Funeral”written by violinist Jimmy Lin Cho-Liang in a Taiwanese magazine “Wealth”.
She married in her forties and had three weddings in three cities all in two weeks just for significant family members who could not travel. (Sydney where she lived for years, Munich where her mother-in-law was and then Taiwan where her dear uncles were.) It must have been exhausting. She became a mother five months later and her relatives heard about her lymphoma before their baby gifts even arrived in her hands. Her chemotherapy and bone marrow transplant all failed. His brother held a simple wedding in the hospital so her sister could attend. A few days later, she passed away. The baby was not even one-year-old. Her funeral was like a carnival, nobody wore black according to her request. She was a bright meteorite that swept through the sky. The most important events in life she went through fast forward in a year or so.
“Everything has a reason for being so. Everything has a reason for existence to be possible. ” Chuang Tzu
In contrast below a very slow film “Amour” that won numerous awards but the Guardian called it an ad for euthanasia. The film stripped aside all the glamour of long careers of the octogenarian actor and actress. Beauty faded , they glow from within, accepting stark reality of age, failure and ego disintegration.