By Mei Chiu, June 26, 2006 — When I was small, I had to serve two moms. Having to serve two mothers – can you imagine?
I was from the village but when I was just two or three years old, just when I was learning to walk, I was taken to Guang Zhou by the one who wasn’t my real birth mother. (Babies learned to walk later back then, it seems.)
You see, my dad was a business man, and one of his customers with the last name Li had no kids. So this woman started asking my mom to give me up as agoddaughter. At first the remarks were subtle, but they soon became threateningand impossible to ignore. She lived across the street from the church that my mom and dad attended. Every week when they walked by her place, she would put on a big scene directly outside the church – she would stand in their way and scream! Finally my mom gave in. Except that Old Li was not satisfied. She said she would be called “Mom” and my real mom would be called “Godmother”. And just like that, she took me on a boat to the city of Guang Zhou. To this day, I still have some trouble thinking of her as “Mom”. That is why you hear me referring to her as Old Li. That is the way you said “Mrs. Li” back then.
When my dad found out, he was so mad that he hit my mom really hard. By then I was long gone. I only know the details because my real sister and brother told me later, much later, when we were reunited. By then, they were older, already married. My dad often traveled to Lam Yeung for business. That’s where he was when Old Li took me away. Actually, that’s where he would pass away years later. And so, he didn’t know I was gone until he went home to the village. Weeks or months later, something long like that. Did I tell you he hit my mom so hard that the bun in her hair fell off?
I went through a lot growing up, but to live as a person, you have to let one eye open and keep the other close. To me, that Chinese phrase makes sense. If good things happen, be ready for them! Let them build you up. If bad things happen, don’t let them bring you down.
[Editor’s Note: This is the story that founder Benita Cooper’s grandma told her during their very first phone call, inspiring the creation of Best Day of My Life So Far!]