Mother’s Day Tales from Along the Yangtze

Note: Internet connection problems have delayed me for a week to post these. The China Telecom worker has been here to say that the telephone lines in my home are so old that they need to be replacing.  This is a huge problem. We’ve also had 3 days of no telephone usage in the administration offices until those were taken care of.  I’ll just do my best to post if I luckily get a connection, such as just now.

Ana Jarvis, the founder, advocate and later hater of America’s Mother’s Day, would have heartily approved of our church worship last Sunday. It was all about mothers: their strength, duties, love, and devotion to their children and families, as God is devoted to us.

No talk of buying Mom a present or spending money to compensate for all her hard work. The point was remember your indebtedness to your mom and make sure she hears it personally from you. The same goes for the Lord.

It was a 1-hour sermon, one of our longest yet, that had us singing the infamous Chinese mothers’ song, “Ma-ma Hao” (Mother is Good), toward the end of the message. I know very few Chinese songs by heart but that children’s song is one of the first I learned. I felt very honored that I could join in with the congregation members with just as must gusto as they in thanking moms everywhere.­­

Ana Jarvis: A Tragic Tale

I mentioned that Ana Jarvis later became a hater of Mother’s Day.

After the second Sunday in May became a holiday, one of her pet peeves was how businesses capitalized on this day. Instead of remembering and spending time with Mother, it became a day to send presents and gifts which, Ms. Jarvis felt, was a cope-out to actually appreciating your parent. The following was taken from an Internet article I found about the poor woman and her eventual demise

“It is somewhat ironic that after all her efforts, Ana Jarvis ended up growing bitter over what she perceived as the corruption of the holiday she created. She abhorred the commercialization of the holiday and grew so enraged by it that she filed a lawsuit to stop a 1923 Mother’s Day festival and was even arrested for disturbing the peace at a war mothers’ convention where women sold white carnations — Jarvis’ symbol for mothers — to raise money. Ana Jarvis’ story is not a happy one. Things went from bad to worse and she eventually lost everything and everyone that was close to her. She died alone in a sanatorium in 1948. Shortly before her death, Jarvis told a reporter she was sorry she had ever started Mother’s Day.”

Perhaps in America, the day has become more about obligated gift-giving (a bit like Christmas) but here in China, in our 102-year-old church building, we Christians truly gave heartfelt thanks and love to our moms.

Like I said: I think Ana Jarvis would have approved.

A Day of No Electricity; A Day of Trouble

Our campus Mother’s Day was spent with no electricity, which brought with it a dire day for my 1st floor neighbors. The story is as follows:

It was 7:30 a.m. Everything was up and running just fine, including the microwave for heating up my coffee. I had just finished showering, and was sending my mom her Mother’s Day email before heading off to church worship, when the electricity went off at 8 a.m.

My Net connection was lost. My message was stalled. I needed to get to church. Thus I headed toward the front gate to catch Bus 262 downtown, about a 25- minute ride.

I thought along the way that, most likely, our campus “black-out” was the city working on electrical lines in our area. This tends to be on Sunday. No regular classes which means teachers won’t be using power point or other equipment requiring it, thus Sunday becomes the day for such repair work at our school.

3 hours later, I re-entered our front gate at noon to see the campus filled with students out and about. Sundays usually have everyone inside, either sleeping, using their computers or messing about with their cell phones. But when the electricity is off, people tend to either go someplace where there is electricity (shopping downtown) or go outside to enjoy nature while waiting for it to come back on.

Due to such an active campus, I surmised we were in for the long haul: a 12-hour halt rather than just a morning doing without.

My Neighbor in Need

It was upon my approach to my apartment building that I noticed our doing without had caused a tragic accident.

My elderly neighbor, Mr. Wang (84) on the first floor, was sitting outside in his wicker chair. He was moaning in pain, rocking back and forth, with a huge bloody knot on his forehead.

Our family housing building is one of the oldest on campus. My 3-room apartment was outfitted with florescent lighting, lovely white tile floors, painted walls and new wiring throughout. My neighbors, however, live with dingy cement floors, molded, unpainted walls, unsanitary plumbing, broken windows and lightbulbs dangling on cords attached to the ceiling.

When there is no electricity, their apartments are extremely dark. It’s difficult to see and I’m guessing this might have been why Mr. Wang tripped and fell. His wife managed to get him outside to sit in a chair after she called China’s emergency line, 120, for an ambulance. This had just happened and I seemed to be the first neighbor on the scene.

While I stayed outside with Mr. Wang, his wife was in her home, bustling about collecting her purse and cellphone. She grabbed her keys to come outside and sit with her husband while waiting for the ambulance to arrive. By that time, 4 concerned Chinese neighbors joined us to see if they could help.

One ran to the top of the steps that lead down to our building. There she kept watch for the medical personnel.

Another neighbor zipped inside her home to grab a wet cloth for Mr. Wang’s injury.

Our English Department bachelor, 45-year-old “William” Huang who lives upstairs, gave words of encouragement to the worried Mrs. Wang.

Ambulance Arrives

Mr. Wang being looked after by the arrival of the ambulance medical team.  The nurse is dressing Mr. Wang's head; the doctor talking to Mr. Huang about his injury.

Mr. Wang being looked after by the arrival of the ambulance medical team. The nurse is dressing Mr. Wang’s head; the doctor calling the hospital about his injury.

I truly had little faith that medical assistance would arrive very quickly.

I had just returned from downtown where the traffic was horrendous. Maneuvering through all those cars on our narrow streets would be extremely difficult. Also, in China, cars don’t stop, slow down or pull over for the ambulance, fire trucks or police cars. Drivers just continue to mind their own business, sometimes even stubbornly refusing to pay attention to flashing lights which (according to law) require them to allow passage of any emergency vehicle.

Glad to say, I was wrong.

Within 15 minutes, the ambulance arrived. 2 nurses, a doctor and driver appeared to take care of my injured neighbor. He was placed on a stretcher and carried up the steep steps. Soon, they were on their way for him to receive immediate hospital care.

The Canadian Methodist Mission and the China Inland Mission to Thank

It is now 6 days later.   I have learned that my neighbor’s fall was most likely caused by a stroke, although the darkness in the home didn’t help. He is recuperating in the hospital and should be back in a few weeks.

I always knew the city’s medical facilities were excellent, and with Mr. Wang, this proves to have been so.

We have a renowned Medical College with two campuses in our midst, one of which caters directly to students from developing countries. Then there is the affiliated Medical College Hospital in the city center, very near the church. A partnering Dental Hospital is also included. Both hospitals have an ongoing staff of visiting overseas’ doctors, medical professionals and instructors, many of whom work for Christian-sponsored agencies. And let’s not forget the Gospel Hospital of Luzhou which is run by the church in cooperation with the local government.

With the Luzhou missionary diaries in hand, as well as Internet history postings about the Canadian Methodist and China Inland Mission’s work here, I have discovered that these two organizations were the first in Luzhou to set up a Western and Chinese medical clinic and dispensary along the alleyway that leads to the church. In 1911, the dispensary opened. By 1915, the Canadian doctors were treating patients in a standard-equipped building. A nursing school was likewise opened a few years later.

This set the foundation for what we have today in the city, including excellent cooperation between the overseas’ medical professionals and the Chinese. Quite an achievement for  those foreigners who came to China those many years ago. Truly inspiring!

From Luzhou, here’s wishing you Ping An (Peace) for your weekend.



About connieinchina

I have been in the Asia region for 30 years as an English language teacher. 28 of those have been spent with the Amity Foundation, a Chinese NGO that works in all areas of development for the Chinese people. Amity teachers are placed at small colleges throughout China as instructors of English language majors in the education field. In other words, my students will one day be English teachers themselves in their small villages or towns once they graduate. Currently, this is my 13th year in Luzhou Vocational and Technical College. The college is located in Luzhou city (loo-joe), Sichuan Province, a metropolis of 5 million people located next to the Yangtze River .
This entry was posted in From Along the Yangtze, Luzhou, Luzhou Vocational and Technical College, Luzhou: Yangtze Rivertown Stories, Travel. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Mother’s Day Tales from Along the Yangtze

  1. Kate Lindsay says:

    I’m in KS for my niece’s graduation from junior college. It’s a medical household….EMS, Dr., RN, and pre-nursing student… your story of the events of Mother’s Day were of particular interest. Thanks for sharing the photo…..especially, the RN tending her patient during Nurse Week.
    It’s raining here with potential for severe storms this afternoon….another exciting day in Kansas.

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