We are a nation built on love. Lots and lots of it. In fact, it is often our persistent love that helps us to plow through difficult periods in our history: Our love for democracy, science and innovation, our love for our neighbors, friends and family, and our love for our sacred motherland, her mountains and rivers.
There can never be too much love, so we say. The more we give, the more we shall receive; and the more we receive, the more we have to give again in return. In that regard, love grows like a glorious multiplication formula. And, often, it is a serious lifelong commitment, like the traditional wedding vow, which calls upon us to love through thick and thin, until death do we part.
For me, the most precious form of love is that of a parent for a child, for it is rendered unconditionally, without any boundaries or selfish motives. It forms a lifeline for the young and vulnerable, like seedlings depending on the gardener for care, patience and tenderness.
If one wants to know how a garden will grow, whether those seedlings will eventually thrive, look no further than those who take care of them. Remember, the love from a parent should never be about that parent, but the child who receives it. It is this selflessness that ultimately makes this kind of love the most pure and rewarding.
When my husband and I finally became parents in 1993 and again in 1998, we started our very own journey of learning how to swaddle the new generation in that kind of selfless love. It was during this journey that I started to look back at my own life and recall the love that I was blessed with from a very special woman, my mother.
Hers wasn't what we expect from a mother these days because she raised her four girls during a very harsh time. We grew up in China during three years of famine followed by ten years of the Cultural Revolution. Abandoned by her family and friends, my mother was all alone attending us, without a job or income, and not knowing if her imprisoned husband was alive or dead.
In some ways, we grew up with so little. We couldn't stay warm in the winter or cool in the summer, and never had enough to eat. Our mother never kissed or hugged us because the revolution discouraged such bourgeois rituals. And yet, she generously showered us with her love every day, giving us everything she could. Some days, she starved herself so we would have something to eat. She took apart her own sweaters to knit small ones for us. And, she told us stories to teach us about hope and determination.
On this Valentine's Day, I want to toast my very special mother's tender love during those tough times, without which, today I wouldn't be me.
Reflections From The East Column:
By Qin Sun Stubis