Happy Mother's Day

Mother’s Day is a day to honor Moms. Here is how I remember my Mom…

My mom had style. She was beautiful, popular, smart, generous, and a winning gambler. When she played cards or mahjong, Mom never sorted her hand and always maintained a poker face. She gave no indication of what she held. However, in life, Mom was far more generous than she was as a gambler. She was quick to dispense advice to anyone who would listen. Her advice was often about forgiveness….hold no grudges and be generous. UNLESS, her advice was about business…where she was a fierce competitor…always with a smile. She could convince you to buy rotten bananas and come back the next day to buy more.

Mom knew all of this about herself; and even though she was a humble person, she didn’t need us to remind her that she was a great Mom. She had great confidence and often “pooh-poohed” her kids for reading Dr. Spock and all the parenting self-help books (since they made us anxious and feeling guilty). To her, raising children successfully was common sense. She said love your kids, tell them the truth, let them do what they like to do, and teach them good manners. Of course, she also expected us to do well in school and work in the store...AND she gladly took credit for our success.

Mom had infinite faith in each of her 6 children. Somehow, we were each assigned certain responsibilities based upon what the business needed and these tasks stayed with us even into adulthood. When my parents retired, they willingly turned over all responsibilities to each of us as if we were still kids. No matter what, Mom continued to spoil each one of us until she no longer physically could. She loved being the adoring mom and grandmother. I recall my nephews as young children, telling mom how they dreamt about these incredible skateboard shoes but were unaffordable. You can bet Mom bought them those shoes and enjoyed their delight and smile!

Mom and baby Margaret

Mom’s life was initially pretty easy growing up. She was born in Fargo, ND. When she was 6, her father took the entire family back to China to bury his brother. In those days, Chinese always wanted to be buried in China. Unfortunately, my grandfather fell ill and came back to the US for medical treatment. He died and the rest of the family stayed in China. All was fine until the Japanese invaded China. My grandmother decided to match her daughters with someone living in America so they could escape the Japanese. All her daughters were born in Fargo, and hence were American citizens. My mother was matched with my Dad, who came from a poor family and had immigrated to the US when he was 12. Mom went from a pampered life to a typical struggling immigrant life, working long hours every day in the family grocery store. She didn’t finish school in China and she never went to school in the US either. Somehow, she learned how to read English. She always read the newspapers and watched the news. She also loved movies.

Mom, young girl in China

Despite being matched, she and my Dad made for great business partners and were socially compatible. She was an important part of their eventual financial success. They were both social and popular with local townspeople and the Chinese population in the mid-south. As kids, we were taught to have fun and work hard too. Not a bad combination.

When I got ready to go to college, my mom was a bit concerned about me going to CA and being a country girl from MS. I recall her sitting me down one afternoon and poured me a glass of whiskey to drink. She said she wanted me to know what if feels like to be drunk so I could handle myself. I could go on…but by now, you have a picture.

Mom at 85

My mom died on March 3, 2010 just before turning 89. She left behind over a dozen grandchildren and great grandchildren. I know she would be so proud of all of them. Mom would love me writing about her, so more Mom stories next year’s Mother’s Day.