Barbara's mother started to accept that I existed. She ignored me, probably hoping that our relation would finish soon, but she knew that I was Barbara's boyfriend. I made no effort to get to know her better, I saw no point in it as Barbara told me that her mother never would accept me. Therefore Barbara lived in two worlds, dividing her time between me and her mother in such a way that we both were satisfied. Despite this situation Barbara's mum and I did meet several times.

One time Barbara mother got problems with her legs. They started to swell up and red stains appeared all over them. It was very itchy and because of the swelling walking became painful. For some reason she didn't want to see the doctor. Barbara asked me if I could help by looking up in the library what was wrong with her mother. Therefore I had to have a look at her legs first. This was the first and last time in my life that a girlfriend asked me to look at her mother's legs. I went to Histon and her mother showed showed me her legs. I still remember the very white legs all covered with the red patches. With this image in mind I did some research in the library and concluded that it was a fungal infection. I made an Iodine solution and gave to Barbara. Her mother used it to bath her legs in it. The solution stopped the itching but didn't get rid of the infection. Finally she had to see the doctor after all. He gave her some anti-fungal cream that cured the infection. I did get a complement from Barbara's mother for trying to help her.

Barbara's mother decided that she wanted a long-haired cat. One of our friends, Di, just got a long-haired kitten. I told her about that Barbara's mother was looking for a long-haired cat and suggested to trade this kitten for one of the kittens Barbara had running round the backyard. It should be an easy switch. Di agreed and there I went to Histon with the long-haired kitten and gave it to Barbara's mother. She was very pleased with it. She said I could take any kitten I wanted from the backyard. This was easier said than done. Barbara's animals were not very tame, and the kittens least of all. While Barbara's mother stood there laughing, Barbara and I were trying to catch one of the kittens. Finally her mother had enough of this and joined in. In no time she had caught one. It did scratch her hand but she didn't mind.

Unfortunately the kitten I had given got sick. Her mother bought therefore instead a really nice white long-haired Persian cat. Only that cat was allowed upstairs in the apartment. One time she even took it with her shopping in the centre of Cambridge. That cat stayed all the time on her shoulders. The kitten I had given had to live between the others cats downstairs. Barbara told me that this cat was the friendliest cat she had, only it sneezed a lot.

The last meeting I can remember was when my parents came over to England to visit me. Barbara was with me when my parents knocked on the door of the apartment. Seeing Barbara they suddenly decided that it was time to meet Barbara's family. Barbara and I try to persuade them not to do this. But they insisted. Barbara phoned her mother, she agreed that they would meet and of we went to Histon. Barbara and I were very nervous .The meeting was very formal, my parents tried their best to understand Barbara's uncle and mother. Barbara did the translations. My parents admired her uncle's paintings and tried to understand the cultural diffierences. Looking back the meeting went rather well. Barbara and I were very relieved.

Later Barbara told me that her mother was disappointed that my parents didn't bring any large gifts. My parents had given a box of chocolates. Apparently it is a Chinese tradition that when parents meet, large gifts are given. My parents and I didn't know this and if we knew I don't think my parents would have followed this tradition.

1978meeting mum 1

I found this family portrait on internet. Barbara's mother is proudly holding her Persian cat. This picture is taken in the living room above the Fish and Chip shop in Histon. I recognise the wall painting Barbara's uncle made. Standing behind Barbara is her uncle. I don't recognise the other persons in the picture. I guess the person next to Barbara's mother is Barbara's stepfather, I never met him.

 

我在网上看到这幅家庭像。像里面美玲妈妈正骄傲地抱着她那只波斯猫。这张相片是在Histon 的炸鱼薯条店上面二楼的客厅里拍的.我记得墙上的画是美玲的舅父画的,站在美玲后面的是她舅父,我不认识照片中的其他人,我猜坐在美玲母亲旁边的是美玲的继父,我从来没见过他.

 

与美玲妈妈见面

美玲的妈妈开始接受有我存在的事实,她对我视而不见,可能希望我们的恋情会很快玩完吧,不过她也知道我就是美玲的男朋友.我没有试图更多地了解她,我觉得没有意义,因为美玲告诉我她妈妈永远都不会接受我.这样美玲生活在两个世界里,她把她的时间分成两部分,一部分给我,一部分给她妈妈,让我们两边都满意.尽管如此,我和美玲的妈妈还是见了几次面.

有一次美玲妈妈的腿出了问题,双腿肿胀,布满红癍,非常痒,走路也很疼.不知为何她不想看医生,美玲让我帮忙到图书馆查资料,看她妈妈得的是什么病,这样我必须得先看看她妈妈的腿是什么样子.这是我生命中第一次也是最后一次我的女朋友叫我看她妈妈的腿.我去了Histon,她妈妈给我看她的腿.我到现在还记得,她那白白的双腿上布满了片片红癍. 在图书馆查了资料后,我确定那是真菌感染.我做了碘溶液给美玲,她妈妈用来洗腿,然后腿不痒了,可是红癍还在.最后美玲妈妈还是去看了医生,医生开了抗真菌药膏,治好了感染,美玲妈妈对我表示感激,因为我努力想帮忙.

美玲妈妈决定想要一只长毛的猫, 娣是我们的一个朋友, 她刚好有一只长毛的猫,于是我就告诉她说,她可以用这只猫换一只美玲后院里的一只猫.这应该是个简单的交换. 娣同意了,于是我就带着娣的那只长毛猫去了HISTON给了美玲妈妈,美玲妈妈很高兴,她说后院的猫随我选一个。逮住其中一只猫?说起来容易,做起来就难了,美玲养的动物都不驯服,尤其是那些小猫,最调皮。我和美玲努力抓其中一只小猫的时候,美玲妈妈就站在那里大笑。后来她实在看不下去了,就来和我们一起抓。很快她就抓到了一只,小猫的爪子在她手上划了几道,但她不介意。

不幸的是我给美玲妈妈的那只猫生病了,美玲妈妈就去买了一只特别漂亮的白色长毛波斯猫,只有那只猫才能上楼进到房间里,有一次美玲妈妈甚至带它去Cambridge的市中心购物去了,它总是待在美玲妈妈的肩膀上。而我给她的那只小猫就只能待在楼下后院里和别的猫生活在一起。美玲说这只猫是她养过的最友好听话的猫,只是它不停地打喷嚏。

我能记起来的最后一次见到美玲妈妈是我的父母来英国来看我的时候。当我父母敲门进来我们的公寓的时候,他们看到我和美玲在一起,觉得应该是时候和美玲的父母见面了。美玲和我试图说服他们别见面了,但我父母坚持要见,于是美玲打电话告诉了她的妈妈,她妈妈同意见面,然后我们就去了Histon.美玲和我非常紧张,见面非常正式,我的父母尽最大努力去理解美玲的妈妈和舅父,美玲做翻译。我的父母对舅父画的画非常钦佩,试着理解其中的文化差异。现在回头看那次见面进行得很顺利,我和美玲松了一口气。

过了一段时间后,美玲告诉我她妈妈很失望,因为我父母没有送大礼。实际上我父母送了一盒巧克力。父母第一次碰面时送大礼,很明显这是华人的传统。 我和我的父母不知道这个传统,就算是知道,我觉得我父母可能也不会那样做。

 

(thanks to Julia for the translation)

 

 

Comments   

# RE: Meeting mumHannah 2010-11-04 00:39
It seems as though communication between Barbara and her mother was not the greatest and she had given up trying to open her mother up to other ideas, cultures, ( such as a non Chinese boyfriend ) a long time ago. Many people think not talking about is the best thing. Sad, but it is what it is. It wasnt just the language barrier between your family and hers, it was that her family seemed as though they didnt want to step out of their comfort zone enough to really appreciate other cultures. Maybe its just me, but this is what I am getting from this story. :P Thanks again for posting Rob!
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# RE: Meeting mumYvonne 2010-11-04 01:53
It seems happiness is ever so near, but then it left…
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# Barbara's MomBee 2010-11-04 06:59
Barbara's Mom seem very steadfast in her own beliefs and attitude. Some Chinese cannot accept other cultures. Her mother seem "money minded"- wanting large gifts, hooking Barbara to rich boy friends. This can drove a young girl to "point of no return". Barbara must have a rather difficult relationship with her mom. They live together, but they do not really comunicate spiritually"!. Barbara does not have a happy family life.
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# RE: Meeting mumBarfan 2010-11-04 15:47
It's basically impossible to fully adapt to a new culture in one's midlife or beyond, so there's really nothing to blame about the mom. After all, we all get old and embarrassing one day.
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# RE: Meeting mumAnonymous 2010-11-05 02:52
There is NO SUCH THING as IMPOSSIBLE!!
Positive attitude can make things possible!
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# RE: RE: Meeting mumHannah 2010-11-07 23:36
I agree with "Anonymous" there. Nothing is impossible, midlife or not. But not everyone is willing be strong and open minded. That goes with each individual in every race out there.

Its true what everyone sees, that there really was no happiness in her family life, because it was too muddled with secrets, lies, and mental trauma.

She should have been able to share her complete happiness ( about school, work, and RELATIONSHIPS ) with her mother. Too bad she couldnt. I am sad that she never got to experience a solid loving mother - daughter relationship.
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# Barbara's relationship with her mom is not normalAlice G. 2010-11-09 05:14
I think Barbara is a good girl/daughter. She tries her best to please and obey her mom. It is strange that her mom has no faith in her daughter's decisions like "choice of friends". Life is "not white or black". Her mom need to take an effort to get to know Barbara's friends before she pass judgement. They are mother & daughter BUT they don't have a real mother and daughter relationship where they mentally communicate. Barbara's life is traumatised as a result. She does not have a happy family life.
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# RE: Meeting mumGuest 2010-11-12 05:23
i am not so sure about those blues about Barbara's family life and daughter-mother relationship. from what i read before, she loves her mom and uncle greatly. such a traditional chinese family may look like depressing and cold, but the level of affection is usually far higher than in a western family. it's just different. it's a cultrual thing.
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# RE: Meeting mumBarbara Fan 2011-02-22 10:24
Hi Rob, Did ur parents eventuality find out about u and Barbara's mother and uncle did not get alone very well during that time. (If they did know) How and when did they (ur parents) find out.
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# RE: Meeting mumjulia 2011-05-04 03:39
As I know, the larger the gift is, the more important is Barbara to you or your family. It is nothing about money, it is a way to show your attitude to the relationship.
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# GiftCT 2012-05-27 16:53
I'm totally agreed with Julia! It's very simple, just as the Christmas gift I gave my best friend always much better than the gifts that I gave to some regular good friends. It's just like the more you care about the person then you would willing to go the extra miles to please him/her.
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# RE: Meeting mumRob 2012-05-28 19:40
I asked my mother today how she looked back at that meeting with Barbara's mother. She told me that my father and she felt like they were treated as inferior persons. Barbara's mother was sitting in one corner of the sitting room with Barbara directly sitting next to her. On the other side of the room, as far away as possible, my parents sat with me next to them. Barbara's mother made no attempt to speak English and my parents didn't feel very welcome. As my mother said it was a big charade, it was like having a private audience with some very important diplomat who expected you to feel humble.

So you see how different the interpretations can be of this single meeting. Barbara's mother felt insulted because of the small present she got, my parents felt not welcome because of the way they were treated and Barbara and I thought that everything went quite well.
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# fr HKPoey 2015-10-24 18:36
it's because two families have different cultures and look a same incident from their own eyes.
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# Re: Meeting of parentseblc2006 2013-03-30 11:47
In Chinese tradition, the meeting of parents usually carry a far deeper significance. Parents don't meet until the lovers have decided they are committed for life and have already gotten the blessing of parents from both sides before such meeting. Usually the meeting happens prior to a formal wedding ceremony is planned. Because of this, large present are nothing out of the ordinary.

Unfortunately because of this sudden unplanned meeting, I have no idea what was in the mind of Barbara's parents at that instance as Barbara surely had not yet gotten the blessing from her parents.

Perhaps they are in a state of shock, as that was not the normal sequence of events they would have expected.
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# ChineseCLY 2014-10-16 03:09
As a chinese I totally understand why BY's mother was so protective. Even now. What more almost 40 years ago. At that age. A chinese has to be chaste and respectable. Her notion of western culture came from pop media. She was worried. I completely understand. As for the meeting with parents and gifts I can understand, too. Asians are more formal. If you had been dealing with Japanese, it would be the same. Her mother probably had other observations which she reserved and being asked the only thing she could comment on was the gift. The rest are noted by Julia, CT and eblc2006.
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# Chinese tradition "meeting the parents"Ken Chau 2020-06-16 10:29
It is very important for Chinese to bring "big gifts"(valuable and meaningful) when there are big festivals or events. A small box of chocolate is solely for kids. What Rob and his parents did were disrespectful for Yung's family and it is an insult to Barbara in front of her family to have a boyfriend like Rob. Meeting parents mean that Rob's family gets to know better and closer with Barbara's family. It means your dating will continue to marriage or ends right here. Obviously Rob did not understand a thing and Barbara was not able to explain everything in detail. Neither your Chinese friends did.
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# Amazing storiesLisa 2020-07-10 13:30
Amazing stories! Can't stop reading them :-)
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