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I learned from my mother to travel on a yellow brick road

Joined: 4/25/2011
Posts: 1
I was curious about my mom, as I knew much more about my dad.
My mom has always told me about her numerous accolades in dance, singing, poetry, and calligraphy. She could always detail the time when she could artfully bend her back like no other and move her miniscule feet with dexterity and alacrity, or talk about her flawless brush stroke on rice paper. She was the best in her class and she seemed to come from a rich town. But she never really told me what her childhood was like.
In actuality, however, she had a modest background—something of which I was unaware. As a middle-aged adult, she would regularly give flairs of affluence, but she would do it in a way where her actions mingled with humility. She wasn’t a bragger, but she held a constant gem of self-assurance. She was regal, yet unassuming. I would think that she was simply brought up in a house with exceptionally good manners, but her unpretentiousness actually stemmed from her impoverished lifestyle when she was young. Similarly, her confidence arose from her conquering of destitution.
It was only when I peppered her with more specific questions did she tell me of her humble origins—her family income, how she got to school, what was the community like, and so on. Eventually, she began to aptly describe her old neighborhood.
There were rows and rows of compact apartments, squeezed together in such a way where one could conserve space—like tenements. Old graying men sat on porches, smoking cigarettes or fanning themselves in blistering weather.
Then she would describe the smell. In certain parts of the community, the smell of rotten food slowly morphed into one of feces. Plates and bowls piled high in antiquated, defunct sinks and clotheslines with battered shirts would hang still, emphasizing the lack of wind. It was stale.
Students would walk for miles to reach school, braving intense heat or extreme cold. Whether it was rain beating down on them or snow piling high upon the ground, they trudged like little troops, heading out to get their education.
It was a time of revolution as well, as Mao ZeDong’s failed communist policies brought desperate poverty. But she rose above everything.
I learned from her that life was not meant to be a barrier, but an accomplishment. The fruits of happiness came from hardship, and both love and lore extended from achieving a long-yearned aspiration. She beat the odds, working hard, garnering money to sail to the States. She showed me that it was that flame that set her alight with fiery passion, the flame that set her ablaze with determination and dedication, the flame that represented a love for learning, a love for the world, and a love for life.
I saw something new within her, a spark that defined her not only as a role of “Mom,” but rather, the role of an inspiration. So I headed out onto a yellow brick road.
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