Making cinq centimaes (Senegalese cookies) in cooking class!
A future best selling author!
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( Writted on May 24th, 2013 by me <Quan Masiello> to remeber my remarkable mother-in-law who passed away on Apr,21th 2013. I will translate it into Chinese so my family can get to know her a little bit better as well. )
Margaret Clayton, was my mother-in-law, and I called her “Mom”. She has sadly passed away.
Margaret Clayton 是我的婆婆，我称呼她“妈妈”。非常遗憾的，她离开了我们。
It is very hard to accept that she is gone, because I can still see her and feel her existence everywhere. She could be in the guest bedroom of my house, or could be sitting at the kitchen table, having her breakfast, reading a book or playing outside with my daughter, Kristianna. Kristianna was always glued to her Grandma, following her around like she was her tail, even when she went to the bathroom. When we visit her the next time, she would be there in her living room, waiting for us when we walked in the door. Or at Joanne’s house, she would be there sitting at the picnic table, sipping her wine. She lives in my imagination and in my memory. I am so lucky that I could have all these memories with me.
I have been thinking about how I should describe my relationship with her and what words I could use to describe her. Of all of the people that I have encountered in my 30 plus years, there are few of them who could really change my way of viewing the world and change my way of understanding love and caring. She was one of those extraordinary persons. She was so important and I have been so lucky that I got to know her and have her as my mother-in-law. I hit the jackpot! She is the best mother-in-law that one could ever ask for. There are so many words that I can use to picture her, beautiful, elegant, brave, dedicated, caring, loving, exploring, giving, and embracing.
She has done so much for me. She travelled to China for our engagement party. I am not sure how many mother-in-laws would travel across the whole pacific to meet a girl whom she has never met. But, she took me in right away, simply because her son was in love with me.
When I first came to the United States, she made the perfect turkey for me for Christmas dinner. It was my first time having turkey, and it was so delicious.
She took me to New York City for my first time. We went on the circle boat tour. She took me to the wax museum and they had a ghost house. I was so scared that I was burying my whole face in her arms like a little baby. In Times Square, we waited in line for 45 mins for a cup of Cold Stone ice cream. She kept assuring me that it would be worth the wait when I tasted the ice cream, and she was, indeed, right in the end. That was the best ice cream that I had ever tasted in my life. We also went to the Hello Kitty store. She discovered that I am a big Hello Kitty fan and would always buy all of these Hello Kitty things for me. We had such a great time that day!
There is a different animal for each year in the Chinese calendar. Mom hand made these special Chinese New Year’s greeting cards with the animal for that year, and she would never miss the date. Her card would be there right on the date of the Chinese New Year.
When I went to ESL class, I would sometimes bring my homework to her house, and she would always be interested in what new idioms I was learning and we would use these idioms to come up with sentences together.
In my culture, we always have hot breakfast, such as hot noodle soup. It was hard for me to eat cereal with cold milk. When we visited her and stayed at her house, she would always worry about what I was going to have for my breakfast. She would make me scrambled eggs or grill special english sausages for me. She always tried to find out what I liked. She always tried to make nice food for me every time when we visited. I enjoyed that she was worried about me so much and took such good care of me. She always remembered to do all of these little things for me.
When my family visited, she would welcome them to her house and make nice meals for them. She always welcomed my cousin, Lin, and invited him to join us for Christmas at her house.
I had a hard time adjusting to my new life and new home in the US, and I had a bad period of time with Tony. There was one time when we had a difficult conversation in front of her and Brian at their house. She did not pick sides. She just listened. She did not tell us what we should do, she was just there to simply listen and she supported both of us. That was such a special quality – listening and supporting, but not judging.
我刚来美国的时候有一段艰难的适应期，与我的先生Tony的关系在那个时候也是当到谷底。我们在我婆婆和她的先生面前有过一段痛苦的谈话。她没有选择支持任何一方，只是扮演一个称职的倾听者。她没有以长辈的身份告诉我们应该怎么做。她只是给予我们无条件的支持。这是多么难得的素质呀 – 倾听，并且给予支持，但是不会去评价我的为人。
She gave me the perfect wedding party, hosted the party at her house, found the caterer, discussed the menu with the chef. I did not need to do anything except just be there. That was such a perfect day.
When my daughter was born, she came to help me, doing dishes and making dinner. When I did not sleep the night before, she would take care of the baby and let me get some sleep, but she never told me what I should do, she was just a perfect Grandma.
When Tony had bad flu and was in the hospital, I called her and the next day she showed up at my doorstep. She dropped everything and came right over for us. That meant so much to me. Without her support, I do not know how I could have lived through that period of time with a two year old daughter. The Saturday morning I got the phone call from the ICU doctor, who told me the bad news. She came to my bedroom. With me, my daughter, and her, the three of us in bed holding each other, we went through that hardest moment. A few months ago, I asked my daughter if she was sad when Daddy was in the hospital. She told me, “yes and no”. I asked her why, and she said that she was sad that daddy was in the hospital, but she was happy that Grandma was with us. Grandma was with us! Grandma was with us! It was so comforting to know that no matter how bad the situation was she was just one phone call away.
She was such a giving person, and it came so natural to her, I was always asking myself how can anyone have this kind of special ability, and I was asking myself this when I was holding her hand and saying goodbye to her, and I have asked myself this even more after she passed away, and I believe I have found the answer: It was because she loves life. She loves her time when she was alive. So she reads, gardens, quilts, cooks and travels. She loves her family so she cares, embraces, and gives. She loves her friends, so she shares and listens. I admire her so much.
她是一个时时都在付出以及奉献的一个人，这样的能力仿佛是她与生俱来就拥有的。我常常问自己怎么会有人与生俱来的就拥有这样的能力？当我握着她的手向她做最后的道别的时候，我问自己这个问题；当她离开后，我更是反复的问自己这个问题。我相信我找到了答案： 她拥有这种时时奉献的能力是因为她热爱人生和生命。她热爱她在这个人世间的每一刻，所以她阅读，园艺，艺术绗缝, 烹饪，旅行；她爱她的家人，所以她关怀，包容，并且给予。她爱她的朋友，所以她分享和聆听。我是多么的崇拜她。
Life has never been fair, but she was not even angry about her ending and never questioned the unfairness of it. She just accepted it and said that she had no regrets and she has had a good life. She accepted this unfair ending with her ocean size heart. I thank her for every moment that she has shared with me, every word she has spoken to me, and everything she has done for me. I wish I could have had more time to show her my appreciation.
How should I remember her? I remember she only used the white part of the scallions. She drinks tea with honey. She loves mashed potatoes, and gnocchi… One afternoon about a week ago, I walked outside of my office building and was standing in the parking lot. I started to cry. It was such a perfect day in May, the sky was blue, the trees were fresh with new green, and there was a little bit of a breeze. Such a perfect day in May, and it would be so much better if she was still here. I decided this is how I am going to remember her: When I see the blue sky, I will think of her! When the sun is shining, I will think of her! When the breeze sweeps on my face, I will think of her! She is like the perfect spring in May, the perfect mother-in-law, the best grandmother, and a great friend! I love her and I miss her very much!