Before we left for Qingdao, we stopped by Pingdu Hospital, named after 宗仁卿 who donated the money to build it.
宗仁卿 is my great grand uncle, Wygoon's mother's brother, the man who helped Mom and the family flee to Taiwan in 1948. His company went on to do very well there. After the war, 宗仁卿 returned to Pingdu and wanted to help the people of his homeland. He was a very religious person, a Christian, which explains a lot about our family history.
The entire story is amazing.
Mom said she used to be afraid of him when she was a kid because he would often hit her whenever she misbehaved.
Mom misbehaved? Impossible... !
We finally hit the road around 4pm I think.
Mom and I were totally exhausted. Johnny MUST have been tired too but he of course was driving. Gupoh, on the other hand, was WIDE AWAKE and talked non-stop for the next two hours! It was unreal how much energy she had, especially since she's been up since 4am.
There really must be something in that Laoshan water... !
She not only talked a lot. She talked about everything under the SUN. And yet she is well aware of her 'problem' and poked fun of herself the entire time. She would talk and talk and talk - stop to conclude that she was talking too much - continue talking - and then conclude once again that she talked too much!
At one point I heard her exclaim, "我煞車壞了!"
I thought I misunderstood and turned to Mom in English, "Did she just say that her BRAKES failed... ?!" She replied "Yes!", and all three of us busted out laughing!
Gupoh... is... FUNNY.
Here she demonstrates how her daughter wants to stick a rock between her teeth to make her stop talking:
This experience to China would not be nearly as memorable without Gupoh. She made us laugh so much! And she always laughed WITH us, which made it all the more funny. Her friends would often tell her that she should move to America because she is way too direct, but I don't think America can handle her either!
Humor aside, she is also a very wise woman. Yes she talks a lot, but she's also been through a lot, including the Cultural Revolution. She's seen it all, she said, and she can see right through people.
What I appreciated most about Gupoh is that she clearly understood the situation with our family. Every family has its share of problems, but unlike most people who don't want to get involved, she boldly stepped into the middle of the ring and encouraged Mom to look at things from a different perspective. This car ride back to Qingdao was the last time we would be together, and she wanted to make sure that Mom 1) fully understood her point, 2) will go back and tell my aunts and uncles, and 3) will do what needs to be done.
Gupoh even said it as such - point #1, point #2, and point #3.
I was SO surprised at what she said and even more surprised that I understood her every word. I also wasn't used to seeing Mom in this role - getting lectured by a 長輩 - because she is the oldest of all her siblings and acts accordingly.
At one point in the conversation, Mom exclaimed, "I can't say THAT to him!" Gupoh was quick to say, "Of course you can't. None of you can because you are his children. But *I* can. I have. And I will. You just tell him what I said, and tell him that I said it." Mom didn't say much, but I could tell that she was listening.
I truly believe that our meeting Gupoh at this very point in our lives - amidst seeing Wygoon last week in Taipei, to this root-searching trip to Pingdu, to our upcoming 24-hour layover in Taipei where we will see him one more time before we return to the U.S. - was meant to be.
Some may say that Gupoh is meddling in other people's affairs, but I choose to believe that she cared enough to use her position as an elder in the family to try and heal old wounds.
I am really glad she did.