I just returned from Beijing after accompanying my mother back home, concluding her successful 2.5-month visit to the US.
She arrived at Christmas Eve 2018, and departed on March 10th, 2019. She celebrated Christmas and New Year with us while still jet-lagged. We visited my aunt (her younger sister) twice in Pennsylvania and had a wonderful Chinese New Year together. Then I had a very special birthday celebration with her, which I hadn’t done for more than two decades!
My mom wasn’t the adventurous type, but she adapted to the new and completely different environment pretty well. She was creative in setting up her room, and strengthened considerably from being intimidated by the steep stairs in the house to racing up and down without a problem. Every morning, she came downstairs to the living room with her thermos, and a handbag that holds her Sudoku pages, pens and pencils, notebook, phone and charger, glasses, needles and threads, etc., then carried these back upstairs at bedtime. I joked that she was commuting for work from 9am to 9pm.
She cooked often and had a specialty in vegetable dishes, some of which David and I never tried before. I learned a few tips from her, and could prepare decent meals at times. David also successfully tried out new recipes. All three of us were determined to lose weight, so our food was healthy in general. One day both my mom and David had the same comment about that day’s dinner, in different languages, that it was like feeding rabbits. Eating out was a bit fattening but we did once in a while so she could try different cuisines – Italian, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, American, etc. Visiting my aunt was similar – a nice mixture of eastern and western food, home-made and dining out.
I don’t go shopping much on my own, but I did quite a lot with my mom. She was curious about everything in the stores – from fabric and craft supplies to kitchen utensils. Of course, she was happy to find clothes, shoes, and handbags that fit her well. As a result, she came here with one big suitcase, and returned with two.
We also walked a lot, even though the weather wasn’t really cooperating (arctic vortex, snow, rain, wind). We went to the library where she could read Chinese newspapers and magazines. We strolled on university campus among all those young people. My mom played ping-pong with my aunt during her visit, and also learned to play piano. She spent sometime everyday to watch shows on YouTube and talk to her friends on WeChat. And she chatted with me all the time.
Even with all these activities and the quality time we enjoyed, she decided to go back to China early. Lack of autonomy was her main issue. She couldn’t drive and doesn’t speak English, so she couldn’t go anywhere or buy anything on her own anytime she wants. Also, there were too few people around compared to the lively crowds she saw in Beijing every day. Mostly she missed her friends and the group exercises and the freedom. I totally understand. I am just grateful that we had a chance to be together, with my taking a break from work and her being healthy and energetic to experience new things. I will cherish these memories forever and hope to do it again in the future.