The mementos of, love, that’s kept, for a, lifetime…translated…
When I was growing up, the cleaning to usher in the new year, that’s when my mother would haul down the items at the top of the shelves to check them, to clean them piece, by piece, that was the most curious also, most excited moment to us children. Of the stack there was a camphor box, with the documents, the certifications, and the delicate clothing stashed inside, and what caught my attention was, this red, shiny, purse, it was very fashionable, with the golden shiny latch, that made the “clack” sound when it was opened up and closed, it’d felt, very handsome. But mom never wanted to show us what’s inside it, she was, very, mysterious about that.
As I grew older, left home, got married, and had kids, and this ritual became, extinct, from my life. Through heading back to visit my parents back home, I’d, slowly, pieced together the details of that purse—it was a gift from dad to mom that he’d bought from Shanghai.
My father was a nautical major, he’d worked for the ships for a bit, visited a ton of places. As he’d arrived to a new location, he’d written my mother the letters, introducing her to what he was seeing there, and how he’d felt, gazing up at the stars at night at seas; back then, there was, no electronic devices that they’d used to tell where they are, the stars, are the best map. My dad also loved the movies, he would sent the detailed descriptions of the movies he’d watched in the cities to mom in the letters. Once he’d arrived in the busy city of Shanghai, and selected this, fashionable, yet elegant red purse, to give it to the woman he loved.
illustration from UDN.com
My father is very hearty, loved the arts, and literature, being on the seas too long, felt that the life of a seafarer was, way too, unsettled, I’m guessing, that it’s because he’d missed the woman he loved too much, and adjusted his coordinates of life, left the cruise ship he’d worked on. They’d come to Taiwan, married and had children, worked hard for a living, lived their life happy, set up a household, filled with the humanities, the arts, the music, a family with a gentle father, and a kind mother for us. They supported and loved and respected one another, we’d never heard the two of them complained, or argued once.
My father passed in his elderly years of illness, my mother, it may be that she grieved for him so, she’d left the home she’d shared with my father for more than half a century, moved to Taipei, to live with my younger brother.
Not long ago, I’d asked my mother about that mysterious purse of hers, and, the revelation—its contents, seventy-six, love letters, the love my father had sent to my mother, over the oceans he’d floated on, over the, thousands of, kilometers.
My daughter’s friend who’s a Japanese writer, was an editor of a magazine, upon hearing my mother’s story, she’d gotten the permissions, came to interview my mother, and see the cherished purse that my mother owned. My mother showed that red purse to my daughter’s friend, the writer and the assistant asked playfully, if they could read the contents? My mother no longer had that shyness of her youth, allowed them to. And so, the thickened nostalgia, the longing, filled the air, and, the few of us, younger generations, were all very, excited, and moved, by the depth, the warmth of the love they’d, shared, I’d felt that this love was quite deep, and what it’d meant to my, mother in her life.
And now, at the age of over ninety, my mother still gave off that elegance, warm feel, she’d continually given her families, her offspring, her friends, her students, unconditional love, and offered us all strength; I’m sure, that this cherished treasure, is what kept her well, hidden inside her heart.
And, this showed, how deep the love shared by the individual’s parents are, and how the elderly cherished the gift that her husband had, given to her, and the contents of what’s inside of that purse, is the, most, priceless, treasure that the elderly woman kept her an entire, lifetime.
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