Last week, I took my mum and my god-sister’s former maid to lunch. I call her "Kiew jay". Since she is a vegetarian, we went for vegetarian food in a little restaurant near her home.
Here are what we had:
From left: black pepper udon, sui kow soup, special fried rice
I do not think I want to tell you where this restaurant is because it is one that I will not go back to. Their food is forgettable and it is rather expensive and service was not very good.
Kiew jay is someone I admire for her positive attitude and outlook on life despite adversity. She is a widow. She married rather late at the age of almost 40 but her marriage was short lived. It lasted only ten months. Her husband was a construction worker and he fell to his death from a building. After her husband passed away, she returned to my god-sister’s family to work as a maid again. A few years later, she was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Fortunately, after she went through a major surgery to remove the tumor, she fullly recovered. After the surgery she quit the maid’s job and started her own business selling vegetarian food. It is amazing for someone who is illiterate and had never done anything other than being a maid in the past. She seemed to be able to support herself and lead a simple life with the income from the business. Although her life has been a challenge and tough in many respects, she said she is at peace and her policy is to live like there is no tomorrow. She said tough times made her a stronger person. That was exactly what my son, Nick said when he shared a piece of short music that he composed and arranged recently. He gave the music the title, “Broken glass and empty bottles”. He explained that this piece was about the tough times in our lives and how we are all challenged to reach inside for endurance and stay strong to get passed it.
Broken glass and empty bottles - composed and arranged by Nick Davis
When I listened to the music I felt some tears swelling in my eye. The music and Nick's comments sent me back in time. It reminded me about the tough time of being a widow and a single mum. I remembered an incident where I came home late at night after a visit with my step brother and his family. Nick was only 3 years old. We were staying on the 4th floor of a walk-up apartment and there was no lift. My baby was asleep and I could not bring myself to wake him up. So I carried him and walked up the stairs. When I reached the 2nd floor, I broke down and began to cry silently. I was hurting and angry. I asked no one in particular "why?". Why had someone I loved been taken away from me? Why me? I felt an impulse to scream out loud but instinctually curbed myself from doing so. I did not want to awaken my baby or frighten him. It was a moment of deep self pity. It took me a few minutes to pick up the pieces and continue climbing the stairs. It was tough but those tough times that I have gone through have made me a stronger person. The beautiful thing is, I always got past those moments. Looking back I've learned that we human beings can endure a great deal and can be remarkably adaptable. It seems to suggest that when life throws us a curve ball, don’t duck it but catch it and run with it! We never know just how wonderful it might be at the end of that run.
There is a bestseller book that I have yet to read, called “A Widow's Story", a memoir by Joyce Carol Oates. I am sure I will be able to relate to her story. I will probably need a box or two of tissues beside me when I read it. It has a good review from Ann Hulbert in Sunday Book Review in The New York Times. You can click on the photo if you want to know more.
Grief is something I wish none of us had to experience, but it is an inevitable and universal part of life. None of us will escape its intrusion and when you think about it, grief is among those experiences that define who we are. To all the widows out there, I salute you for your survival and your strength. I hope you may draw some comfort from reading this. It is another beautiful writing by Khalil Gibran.
The Widow and Her Son XXI
Night fell over North Lebanon and snow was covering the villages surrounded by the Kadeesha Valley, giving the fields and prairies the appearance of a great sheet of parchment upon which the furious Nature was recording her many deeds. Men came home from the streets while silence engulfed the night.
In a lone house near those villages lived a woman who sat by her fireside spinning wool, and at her side was her only child, staring now at the fire and then at his mother.
A terrible roar of thunder shook the house and the little boy shook with fright. He threw his arms about his mother, seeking protection from Nature in her affection. She took him to her bosom and kissed him; then she sat him on her lap and said, "Do not fear, my son, for Nature is but comparing her great power to man's weakness. There is a Supreme Being beyond the falling snow and the heavy clouds and the blowing wind, and He knows the needs of the earth, for He made it; and He looks upon the weak with merciful eyes.
"Be brave, my boy. Nature smiles in Spring and laughs in Summer and yawns in Autumn, but now she is weeping; and with her tears she waters life, hidden under the earth.
"Sleep, my dear child; your father is viewing us from Eternity. The snow and thunder bring us closer to him at this time.
"Sleep, my beloved, for this white blanket which makes us cold, keeps the seeds warm, and these war-like things will produce beautiful flowers when Nisan comes.
"Thus, my child, man cannot reap love until after sad and revealing separation, and bitter patience, and desperate hardship. Sleep, my little boy; sweet dreams will find your soul who is unafraid of the terrible darkness of night and the biting frost."
The little boy looked upon his mother with sleep-laden eyes and said, "Mother, my eyes are heavy, but I cannot go to bed without saying my prayer."
The woman looked at his angelic face, her vision blurred by misted eyes, and said, "Repeat with me, my boy - 'God, have mercy on the poor and protect them from the winter; warm their thin-clad bodies with Thy merciful hands; look upon the orphans who are sleeping in wretched houses, suffering from hunger and cold. Hear, oh Lord, the call of widows who are helpless and shivering with fear for their young. Open, oh Lord, the hearts of all humans, that they may see the misery of the weak. Have mercy upon the sufferers who knock on doors, and lead the wayfarers into warm places. Watch, oh Lord, over the little birds and protect the trees and fields from the anger of the storm; for Thou art merciful and full of love.'"
As Slumber captured the boy's spirit, his mother placed him in the bed and kissed his eyes with quivering lips. Then she went back and sat by the hearth, spinning the wool to make him raiment.
My mother gets all of her vegetarian food supplies from Kiew jay. I know it is easy to get vegetarian food from supermarkets but somehow, those we buy from her are of a more superior quality. Shown here are the vegetarian roast goose and vegetarian fish that we bought from her recently. I deep fried the goose and my mum made fried fish in garlic and light soya sauce for dinner last night. Both were VERY DELICIOUS!