Women though, in my experience, tend just to get on with life.
When my favourite aunt needed to get from her village to another in the 1920’s but found no means of transport, she bought a small motorcycle on the spot and rode there. She stood up to my grandfather, too, whenever he put a member of the family down. When her fiancée was killed in World War One she never married. She just got on with life.
When my grandfather denounced my mother and my father on the doorstep of his apartment in front of my mother and my brother and me, my mother wiped away her tears, came home and made dinner. She just got on with life.
The first time Mui was rushed into the hospital emergency department with a severe chest infection when we were her volunteers, a nurse told us we were not allowed to be with Mui because we were not family. Tina stood her ground for over forty minutes and refused to leave the hospital. Finally the hospital staff relented and allowed Tina onto the ward. Mui was withdrawn and small on her bed, and suffering. The moment she saw Tina, her face exploded with delight. Each time after that when Mui was rushed into hospital, Tina, for two years as a volunteer and from then on as a mother, slept on the floor beneath Mui’s bed so as to be there for her. No beds were provided, no mats were allowed. After months of hospitalizations, I convinced Tina to come home for a few hours each night to sleep before returning each following morning before dawn to be at Mui’s side when she awoke.
Johnny Depp is the parent of a child who was once seriously ill. He frequently visits sick children in hospitals. The actor says: “The kids, bless them, they are so strong… they are so courageous. But the parents are the ones who are slowly dying.”
As a father, I would never belittle the role men play in their children’s lives or in the lives of those they help as volunteers. Men do get judged on how they deal with adversity.
And women? There have been days and weeks and months of adversity as Tina and I’ve raised Mui. There still are. Yet Tina has never complained about her own needs or on what she has missed out on. She has never expected help or support. She just gets on with life, as strong women do.
She’s made me a better person. She is my inspiration.
And now there is my daughter.
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