By Assunta Ng
NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
This year, Mother’s Day was surreal. My eldest son Jason, who has worked in Hong Kong for over a decade, came home … for another reason.
Our nephew is getting married on May 20. I have to confess, I pushed him to attend the wedding. I just wanted him to come home. Although he was born in Seattle, he hadn’t been back in six years.
Our Hong Kong relatives will arrive here the day before the wedding. Jason chose to fly back a week before the wedding. Only a few days before, I realized that he would be back to celebrate Mother’s Day with me. I felt blessed and happy.
This time, it wasn’t just his voice on a phone call during the wee hours of the day that he wished me “Happy Mother’s Day.” He said it in person — and with a big smile and hug.
Every year, I dream of having my two sons with me for Mother’s Day. I got my wish this year. It was also special for us as a family — it was our (my husband and I and two sons) first reunion in six years. Yes, my husband and I have visited our son in Hong Kong many times, but we have never brought our younger son, John, along. And we often stay in hotels, so we didn’t have much “living at home” interaction except dining together. That’s the price we pay for being in the news business. We take our vacations separately because we need someone at the office, to manage not so much the editorial aspects, but the operation itself, such as accounting, distributions, and personnel.
When we learned the date of Jason’s return, we worked and worked to make our home less messy.
What have we done to his room since he’s been gone? Piling up junk. It has been served as our dumping ground since he left Seattle over a decade ago. And yes, we invaded his closet with our own clothes.
John took away the nice blanket that Jason left on his bed. The malfunctioned desk lamp had to be replaced, along with the broken chairs in our dining room. We were just too busy and comfortable with our old stuff. The truth is, we couldn’t care less. I didn’t notice we had been sitting on squeaky, fabric-torn chairs in the past few years. Jason would complain if he sees things unfixed. This time, we gave ourselves an ultimatum — get everything done before he set foot in the house. And it was a joy to make his room nice and homey again.
On Mother’s Day
When I was reading the paper in the morning, my kids from behind said, “Happy Mother’s Day.” Their voices made my heart melt.
They handed me flowers, a stylish sun hat (yes, I am the hat lady), and a beautiful greeting card, saying, “Mom, More Loved every day. More appreciated every year.”
Then came another surprise — John teamed up with his friend making me a terrarium. One glance at the plant, and I could imagine all the heart, creativity effort, and love that went into the gift. Then, a large fruit plate with 16 kinds of fruits, was unwrapped on the dining table by John’s friend. Impressed by the color and presentation, we munched on them right away. I have never received so many Mother’s Day gifts in my life.
Adventure with my sons
It has been an adventure with Jason at home the past week. I was astonished how he differs from our eating habits.
“Don’t you have butter?” my son asked. He cooked us a delicious steak with butter, garlic, fresh peppers, and other spices. That must be a generational thing. I eat butter only once a week when I attend my Rotary Club meeting downtown.
“Do you have white sugar?” he asked. Another surprise.
“No, son, we haven’t bought white sugar for our house in a long time,” I replied. I avoid eating processed sugar because it’s unhealthy. We have only honey at home.
When we went grocery shopping, Jason grabbed a box of chocolate chip cookies. I don’t know how long it has been since we stocked cookies in our kitchen. All our snacks are protein bars, drinks, and dark chocolate. The next thing he asked for … bacon. Fortunately, he cooked the bacon perfectly, by getting rid of all the fat. Yum!
“You don’t have cream (for coffee),” he said.
“We don’t use cream for coffee, just 2 percent milk,” I replied. How I envy him that he’s fearless when it comes to food! He doesn’t worry about calories or fats. When you are young, you can get away with everything. I have to watch out for everything I eat. So we bought all the unhealthy ingredients he likes to cook for us.
My son’s week in Seattle was well spent. He also celebrated Father’s Day with his dad, sort of. The two went to Vancouver B.C. together. One night, he went to the Mariners’ game with his brother. It turned out to be a “miracle” game. The Mariners won at the last second after losing the last four games. Jason probably brought the team luck. Okay, I admit I exaggerate. How else can I explain the Mariners’ incredible victory?
We took walks in the International District to show him all the latest growth in the community, including the latest homeless camp development around Dearborn Avenue South — all eye-opening for him.
To pay it forward for having my sons present on Mother’s Day, I decided to pay tribute to another mother. Judy Fu, owner of Snappy Dragon Restaurant, has been supportive of us for a long time. Her restaurant is doing well, and her clients are usually Caucasians living in the neighborhood. She doesn’t need any advertisements. Still, she calls us every Lunar New Year to place an ad.
We surprised her on Saturday with flowers and also dined at her restaurant. It’s good to see her in great shape. I am lucky to have customers like her.
One of my young girl friends has decided not to have kids after marriage. “Too much pressure,” she said, “and too much work.”
If she only knew the rewards of raising them. There is no smooth ride in life. Sure, there are tremendous sacrifices, heartaches, and headaches raising kids.
But to be able to experience the unconditional love between a parent and a child is worthwhile and amazing — it is the greatest, unselfish love. Parents would do anything for their kids, and don’t expect anything in return. But the love between a man and woman is more often conditional.
I feel my friend is missing out in life for rejecting children. I hope she changes her mind.
Assunta can be reached at email@example.com.