Angela’s mom shares a memory from her college days and Angela learns more about her mom as a person through this story. Let us know if you do a similar exercise recording the stories your parents tell you behind their old photos!
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Welcome to the Hearts in Taiwan podcast, where we explore and celebrate our connections to Taiwan. I'm Angela, and today it's just me and my mom. One of the things we appreciate most about this podcast is that we recorded the conversations we had with our parents when we interviewed them for our first episodes. This project spurred me to have new conversations with my mother, other than those centered around our daily lives, and as a result, I've been able to understand her as a person better. A story she told me recently was entertaining in several ways, so I thought you might enjoy it too. And then afterward I'll share a little bit more about why this story has deeper meaning to me. So my mom recently almost lost her physical photo albums, which she's kept since her time in Taiwan. That spurred me to finally get off my butt and, scan them with an app on my phone. And then on Mother's Day, I showed the photos to her and I hit record on my phone's voice notes feature to ask her about some of the photos. This is the story she told me about one of the photos in which she's smiling and walking on crutches as a young woman. For context, my mom went to Tsing Hua University in the sixties for college, which is a couple of hours away from Taipei where her parents lived. If you wanna see the photo we're talking about along with some other photos I searched for to illustrate this story, see them on our Instagram or Facebook page.Angela's mom:
That is because every morning we have to ride down the bicycle to attend this morning service. Can you believe it? You know, to sing the national song and then raise the flag every morning, you have to do that almost like a military school. Can you believe it? And then we ride the bicycle down from the uphill, from the dormitory to this to this underground. The school is like on the half in the mountain, and then the flat surface has a, like a oval shaped ground, grass. And then around it is all like a driveway car can driving and of course bicycle can. And then we all going down from the dormitory it's in, early in the morning and I was riding the bicycle and then I had to turn this way to go to the, like a place to park. Then I can go into this green grass where the ceremony is. But when I was turning, you know, you know, when you have a sharp turn and then, you know, maybe I was not so good. So I was totally thrown away thrown to the bike, you know, like the, the, you fell off. Yeah. I fell off and fell off and then totally thrown on the ground. And then. Of course, then the, the leg hurt very much. And then that's of course my good friend, you know, behind me, you know, trying to hold me up and then take me back to the, at, to the dormitory. Maybe that's after the ceremony. Like, you know, when you, usually, after the ceremony, you go to your first class, whether your calculus or your physics class, whatever, but that day, then she took me back there. And then even our dormitory we have like 教官 (jiào guān), like a supervisor, she's a military. Supervisor, but she worked in our school especially for the girl's dormitory. She's the only person that means she's very authorized to make any decision. And then she saw me and then say, oh just be careful. And then this friend of mine actually took me. She said, oh, she know acupuncture or something in the downtown in Hsinchu, in downtown. So she offer, so she took me to that place. Huh? No walk. No, of course. I sit on her bicycle. I cannot walk. Of course. You know, and I cannot bike myself. So I, you know, at that time sitting on people's bike is a very common transportation because, you know, you know what I mean? Right. At that time only the women's bike have a, have a, have a, this bar for you to sit down there. So she, she took me down to downtown, to this person, who is like a acupuncture and they don't have xray or anything. They just take a look at my ankle and say, oh, it's twisted. So she want to twist back. And I was crying. I was so painful. What? Right. But anyway, she said, okay, go home and put this something on the outside, you know, just to try to prevent the, the blood to spread or something. Mm-hmm so a wrap bandage wrap, not, not a wrap is like sound some, some medication to, so your skin or something that way. But anyway, it's so bad. Half, fortunately that then Friday I took the train back to Taipei. So because when we living in the dormitory, there we not, everybody go back home every week, you know, only once a week, once a month, maybe mm-hmm And that week I happen to be going back to Taipei. And so when your granddad, when my father saw my leg, he was so angry. He said, I have to take you to see a real doctor. And then of course the first thing that real doctor do is to x-ray. And when you do the x-ray, then you find out, it says a broken ankle. Thank you otherwise. And the wonder it was so, so, so painful when you twist it a broken ankle. And then of course, then this person is a Western medication, so x-ray, and then put a. So the cast you cannot remove for almost a month, so I'm really protected by the cast, right? That's why the all this is the cast look to protect it and can my, my father was so angry because that person not only no cast the Chinese people to twist it, Worse. I know. That's why I was so painful, oh man. See those people, they don't have any x-ray and they just, you know, whatever. So that take a whole month to, before I can take out the cast. Can you believe it? So how can I go to from the dormitory to the, yeah, so every day, oh, that's a, that's a friend of my, in my own class. Okay. he's the one who very nice. He organized my whole classmate mm-hmm did I say my whole class are 45 student, 44 boys and me only the girl. So he arranged Monday. These two people take care of you drive her to, to the class, you know? So I would sit down on, on top of the bicycle bar and go to the work. And then the next day. The other dormitory, the other, I mean, he arranged that for me for the whole month.Angela:
You couldn't, you can ride both the boys men's and the girls bikes.Angela's mom:
Oh, actually the boys bike. I don't think they have a place, you know, so they, right.Angela:
Yeah. Bar is flat.Angela's mom:
You're right. No. And he, for some of them, they are so nice. Put a seat for me. Okay. Okay. No, it's the, the, this supervisor in my dorm dormitory, he ordered he went to maybe a maintenance person and he made a seat for me. That seat would fit into the bike so I can sit on the seat. Can you believe it? So every day it's a different, different dorm, different room responsibility. Then you take this, you know, then you can take to school. I'm sorry. But anyway, see, I am the only girl in that class. Can you believe it? And, but anyway, I was never intimidated by them because maybe I grow up with two brother. What do you think? so I never have any problem. Mm-hmm . But anyway, so after a month, you know, it was taken down and you know what I was, so I was so I should express my gratitude to them. So I told my father, and then we all went to a shop to buy the, the ping pong set that, so every dorm room get a one set of ping pong. Aw. That's why they, they become so good at ping pong play because they all play against each other,Angela:
You gifted to the whole class?Angela's mom:
Yeah. Each room, get a one set. Wow. So it's like a, it's only ping pong. It's only two, two the paddles. So two paddle plus one, one set of ball, the pong.Angela:
And then what about the net? You, you had to go to a table somewhere?Angela's mom:
They have, they, they know how to pay themselves tables in the, yeah. They have in their dorm to know where to play. Maybe not everybody have the set, so they, they have to rotate among themselves. But now every, every room have a set. That's why eventually they, they set a competition between the two of which room has a, it, it is between them anyway, but at least, I mean, that's a fun story. Yeah. For our class. That's cool.Angela:
So my mom repeats this story and another story like it, whenever she gets the chance and a common theme among the two stories is how her father came to her rescue by advocating for medical care, when she was seriously hurt. Her father or my grandfather died before I was born, so I only know of him through photos and my mom's occasional mentions. In the context of present day, like this year of 2022 lately on social media, I've been noticing that a lot of people celebrate how their parents are constantly offering them cut up fruit as a non-verbal way of saying, I love you. And I see this as a healing process, where second generation Asian Americans are learning to recognize their parents' love languages, which are different from how we expected love to look based on what we saw in mainstream media and at our non-Asian friends houses. Except my mom, wasn't interested in the kitchen at all, so she didn't do the cut fruit thing or the food is love thing. And so I've had to look harder for how she shows love. I should also mention that she raised me as a single mom, so I really felt the full force of her parental attention with no other family members to deflect to. So back to my mom's story, when I listened to my mom talk about her father, I think she felt the most loved by him when he was advocating for her. She's a very self-assured person, and is really proud that she didn't need much help from anyone for most of her life. But the two times that she did need help, he saved her. Other times that she's talked about him, she talks about how stern he was. And I think it's really just a justification for how strict her parenting was to me and how she's not that bad by comparison to him, but in the incidents of these two stories, his anger was directed outward in protection of her. So for me, that reminds me of the many times that I've heard my mom arguing on the phone with various customer service representatives and me just being glad that she's yelling at somebody else and not me. So by recognizing this pattern, I can kind of see how the way she experienced love from her father probably shapes how she translated that into how she could be the best parent she was capable of being. As I mentioned in our last episode where we talked about tiger parenting, I'm trying to break unhealthy patterns in my own parenting. So in the show notes, I'll link to a couple of Instagram accounts that I follow, which celebrate how Asian Americans can connect with their parents. I'll also provide a link to the app that I use for photo scanning. I've used it for years and it's amazing at scanning physical photos without the glare when I don't have the patience for using a flatbed scanner or like the photos are so old, I don't even wanna touch them. Cuz in my mom's photo albums, they're kind of stuck to the pages with that glue. And so I didn't even wanna like take them out of the album to put them on a scanner. And the best part is the app is free and now I have the photos safe and digitized in case anything happens to the physical copies. By the way, thanks also to our supporters who have bought us a boba through the link at the bottom of our show notes. This episode is the product of new editing software that we're trying out thanks to your donations. Once again, you can see the photo behind my mom's story at @heartsintaiwan on Instagram or Facebook, and you can comment or message us there to let us know your thoughts or you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Until then, follow your curiosity, and follow your heart.