“I probably won’t live to age 50”. This was what my grandma told my grandpa when they started their courtship. I am glad her dire prediction turned out to be false – she actually lived two decades longer and passed away in 1997 when she was 73.
My grandma had gallbladder problems since she was a young girl. She had a big surgery at age 17 but problems remained all her life. This was why she had always been very thin. Despite her health issues, she dedicated all her time and energy to the family – taking good care of my grandpa and their five children. She had all the virtues of a Chinese woman – hard working, frugal, caring, and preservering. She was dearly loved by all family members.
Both my grandparents attended a skill/career-developing school in Shanghai back then. My grandma’s father was the school master. My grandpa was very handsome and intelligent, so my great-grandpa was quite impressed with this young man and considered making him his son-in-law. So he invited him to dinner at his house. He probably didn’t expect that both of his daughters – my grandma and her younger sister, fell in love after meeting my outstanding grandpa.
The two sisters’ personalities were quite the opposite. Even though the younger sister was taller, healthier, more beautiful, and stronger-willed, my grandpa chose my grandma to be his wife, despite her poor health. Their loving marriage lasted for over 50 years, and I am sure he didn’t regret for a moment all his life.
Feeling rejected, my grandaunt held grudges against her sister and brother-in-law, and refused to date or get married for a very long time. When she reached 40, one of her brothers introduced his colleague to her and finally she reluctantly married him. After their daughter was born, my grandma helped taking care of the little girl, partly to alleviate the guilt she had always felt towards her younger sister.
The interesting part was that my grandma also took care of her own granddaughter (my sister) at the same time. Even though this little girl was younger than my sister, my sister was supposed to call her ‘aunt’, which she couldn’t understand and adamantly refused to do. I remember hearing interesting stories about my sister and this very young aunt when I was a kid, now I finally learned the history behind it.