I have been troubled with this and that recently. I want to ring Mum to talk but I hold back. I used to call Mum whatever happened, even when my girl was unwell. I wanted Mum to tell me what to do. Now I am getting older and so is Mum and she is not as fit as before. I think I had better not bother her so much.
曾经和姐姐聊天，姐姐也说你写写我们的妈妈吧，我们的妈妈和别人的就是不一样（妈妈的口头禅 Mum’s quotes）。
I once had a chat with my sister about Mum. My sister said, please write about Mum. Our Mum is really different from others（妈妈的口头禅 Mum’s quotes）.
My mum was born in the 1940s but she is outgoing, optimistic and trendy.
Mum is very diligent and a great cook with lots of her own secret recipes. In my childhood, I remember every festival or holiday, we had special food for that occasion. Sticky-rice wrapped with bamboo leaves, fried triangle dumplings and crispy bread for Dragon Boat Festival; dumplings for Winter-Arrival Day; Eight-precious-porridge for La-Ba Festival. We never missed any single festival without special cuisine made by Mum. Mum marinated sugar garlic in spring and green garlic in winter, prepared soybean paste in summer and chilies in autumn. She never felt it was a burden for her.
Even now whenever I go back my mum’s place, early the next morning she’d always ask: what would you like for lunch? If I say Zha Jiang Mian- noodles with fried soybean paste. She’d respond: Easy Peasy! How about something complicated?! She likes to cook food such as steamed dumplings, fried dumplings, eggplant pie, steamed pork belly with fermented bean curd etc. – something she believes I can taste from my hometown, but it might be too much trouble for me to make myself.
Mum was also a great tailor and she used to make garments for my sister and me, to dress us beautifully. She had made then-very-popular flared pants, bat-style-blouse, and suit dresses for us. She embroidered little flowers and animals on my pinkish flared pants to make them look special. And everytime when I returned from school with a new outfit, she’d ask: Did anyone say you are pretty today? (Now it’s my turn to ask my daughter the same question.)
Mum had no chance to go to university but I believe she is so knowledgeable that she’s no less than those intellectual people. Mum always uses simple words to teach us lots of knowledge for livelihood and cooking skills. When I grow up, often I am shocked that many peers around have no idea about such common sense. （That is why my Australian friend calls it un-common sense）
Mum has her secret remedies for illness. She hardly ever used medicine on us. For a cold, she made a bowl of hand-made soup noodles with lots of vinegar then tucked us into bed to sweat. Eating too much and feeling bloated, she made a mug of jasmine tea with sugar and salt to help us digest. For fever, she only fed us half a pill of aspirin then made us have lots of warm water. When I caught cold after having my baby, she boiled Sichuan pepper water to warm my feet and hands.
I remember in high school Grade One, one summer evening I was bad-tempered because I couldn’t solve a difficult physics question. Mum gave me a chilled bowl of tomatoes topped with sugar then I cracked up immediately.
妈妈总是有很多精辟的妙语。譬如：“好话能当银钱使”、“有啥都别有病，没啥都别没钱”、还有“病来如山倒，病去如抽丝”（我曾经用这句话安慰生病的琳达，她回答：天呢，我的丝咋抽的这么慢呢！）、“天天待客不穷，夜夜做贼不富”等等。（烤猪排 Roast Pork Ribs）
Mum has many wise quotes such as “good words can be used as money”, “have anything but illness, have nothing but money”, “when the illness comes, it’s like a collapsing mountain; when it’s gone, it’s like pulling a silk thread” (I once used this expression to comfort Linda, she responded: Oh my god, my thread is pulling so slow!) “You wouldn’t get poor by hosting a banquet every day, and you wouldn’t get rich by being a burglar every night.”（烤猪排 Roast Pork Ribs）
Mum taught me to get along well my in-laws when I got married. Mum is always good at relationships with her children’s in-laws. Whenever they need support or help, she is always available.
Mum is very social and good at making new friends due to her kind nature. We used to live in a row of connected houses so she always got along well with the next door neighbours. After Mum moved into a new neighbourhood with my brother and sister-in-law, she soon made new friends with those upstairs and downstairs. Even coming down to my place for a short stay, Mum would quickly be friendly to neighours around.
Mum is a loyal Christian like her mother. She goes to Church on Sunday mornings. She always says thanks God while holding the bowl in her hands before every meal. She prays whenever family and friends have difficulties. But after reading some Buddhist books, she agreed and told me: Buddhism is more suitable for Chinese tradition and culture.
Mum is a literature lover and loves the classics such as the Red Mansion. In my childhood, she already subscribed to the Chinese version of the Readers Digests and October Harvest. She often borrowed books from the factory library. (You know every bookshelf and the sloping reception desk were designed and hand-made by my Dad.) Every summer and winter holidays, she took me to the library to read books and she’d bring home the new books immediately.
Mum loves watching movies especially western movies and Hollywood blockbusters. Once, I gave her the Da Vinci Code to read. She got so excited after she finished it. Later she called me: do you know that the Da Vinci Code is made into a movie and Tom Hanks stars!
Mum is also romantic and sentimental. She couldn’t hold her tears while watching the Korea drama Lovers in Paris. She could sing pop songs with young guys in KTV and enjoyed every moment.
Mum loves ancient Tang and Song poems and also loves Chairman Mao’s classics. She can recite them fluently. And she trained us to recite ancient poems while we were children. Every night while we went for a walk or to visit my grandparents, she’d teach me a poem and made sure I remembered it upon arrival home. Then especially on Chinese New Year, she would test us how many poems you could recite and award you with a red envelope. Each poem was one yuan award. A long difficult poem would get paid double.
Once we took Mum to visit Qingming Theme Park in Kaifeng and watched the night show Dream in Dong Jing (the ancient name of Kaifeng). Mum liked it so much and kept talking about it. The next day when I got home I found she was holding a Song Poems book and checking the origins of every poem in the show. I joked: You’ve got professional spirit!
Sorry I have been going on so much and really I don’t how to end this essay. This is a fridge sticker I bought for Mum in an Auckland bookstore in 2005 (I noticed she always keeps it - even when moving to a new house or changing to a new fridge, though there is only English). Allow me to use the words on the sticker to end.（And of course Mum’s recipe of Henan noodles with soybean paste ）
You’re very special.
You always show your care.
I love you very much—
So thanks for being there……
Recipe: Mum’s Noodles with soybean paste(Henan Style)
Minced pork(can be fat and lean mixed or pure lean ) - half a kilo; one thumb of ginger, one stem of Chinese onion, both finely chopped;
Fresh noodles 1 kilo; Spinach or green leaf vegetables, wash clean then rinse; carrot 1-2, sliced; spinach and carrots for boiling with the noodles when the noodles are nearly well-cooked.
Cooking oil 400 gram; Sichuan pepper 1 teaspoon;
Wangzhihe brand soybean paste and dried yellow paste, mixed half and half, 3-4 tablespoons (I often mix one pack each in a food container then use conveniently)
Mushrooms 8-10, finely chopped; soybean sprouts, 1/4 kilo; tomatoes 1- 2， finely chopped;
Sweet-potato starch, 2 tablespoons.
Boil a pot or kettle of water;
Put cooking oil in the wok. When it’s hot add Sichuan peppers ; when aroma arises, remove the Sichuan Peppers;
Turn to medium gas; put the mince in, stir fry and when the pork fat melts, then add the soybean paste mixture; stir fry with mince for 2-3 minutes;
Pour in boiling water; remember this is Mum’s secret that it must be boiling water as otherwise cold water can’t lift the aroma of the paste;
Put tomatoes, soybean sprouts, and mushroom; Make sure the tomatoes are well cooked to give out the flavour;
Turn to low gas and boil for 3-5 minutes, then pour starch into water. Mix the starch with cold water in a bowl then slowly pour into the wok to boil for 1 minute when the broth is thick and tasty. Turn off the gas.
Put on a cooking pot to boil noodles on another gas jet. When the noodles are nearly ready, put the vegetables in to boil until well cooked. Scoop the noodles in a big bowl then top with the broth.
Serve for 4-5 people.
Mum’s home-made dishes are our favourite!.