Sunday, May 17, 2009

My grandfather and his family in culture revolution

My grandfather was a traditional Chinese doctor. He owned a small clinic.

He healed patients and made his own Chinese herbal medicine. He also helped those

patients who didn't have money to pay for the medicine and doctor visit.

He would help those poor people to buy tickets to Singapore or Taiwan for

a better life. His clinic was famous for the fair price and high quality medicine

in his town. Grandfather and grandmother had three daughters and two sons.

Grandpa favored boys more than the girls. My mom was the youngest in the family.

Mom told me that when the midwife announced, "It is a girl!" Grandpa was very

disappointed. Right after my mom was born, grandpa sent the girl(my mom) away

and gave her to someone else who lived in another town. My grandmother was very sad.

She cried for a long time. Three days later, a woman sent the baby girl home.

She said that the baby had been crying for three days and three nights.

She and her husband decided to take the baby girl back to my grandmother.

My grandmother was very happy to have her baby girl home. After that,

grandpa never mentioned anything about sending mom to another family.

Still he wouldn't let girls go to school. He only allowed his two sons to go to

school. He trained his older son to become a doctor to succed him. The younger son,

Jie Ming, went to a university. Girls had to stay at home to help with the clinic.

My mom was the youngest child at home. She was always willing to learn. She begged

my uncle to take her to school. My uncle Jie Ming let my mother go to school.

Mom finally finished school and became a teacher.



During The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution between 1966 and 1976, the government
took over my grandpa's clinic. One of my uncles was persecuted and sent to

the detention camp. Later he died. Uncle Jie Ming, Grandpa's youngest son,

was a communist. He taught in a middle school. Communist leaders wanted him to

sever his relationship with his parents. In other words, he had to agree not to

have any realationship with his parents. Otherwise, he would lose his job forever.

Uncle Jie Ming had 6 children. He had to make this decision to save his job and

raise his family. He could not see my grandparents.


Because he lost the clinic, there was no income. After the death of the oldest son

and because the youngest son could not come home to see them, my grandparents had

to sell their gold and some other jewlery at a very low price to get some

money. My Aunt was in trouble, too. She married a local rich landlord. All her

property and land were taken away by the government. She could not support

my grandparents. My grandparents had to depend on my mother, who was an elementary

school teacher in the countryside. My mother got paid RMB23.00 a month. She had to use half of her salary to support my grandparents. She supported them until they died.


Grandpa and grandma passed away in 1975. Uncle Jie Ming told me that grandpa

had never thought that the Communists would take over everything and break up his

family. If they had moved to Singapore, Taiwan or Hongkong before the Chinese

revolution, everyone would have been safe.


One thing grandpa felt happy about was that the baby girl (my mom), whom he had

almost given away to another couple, was actually the one who took care of him and

my grandmother during the rough times. Without mom they would have had no food to eat.

Mom always said that luckily she cried for three days and three nights. Otherwise,

she would not have been sent back to her parents and have helped them during the

Cultural Revolution.

1 comment:

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