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Family are the Friends You Don’t Get to Choose
In 1898, the British and Chinese governments signed the Second Convention of Peking, which included a 99-year lease agreement for the islands surrounding Hong Kong, called the “New Territories”. The lease awarded control of more than 200 surrounding small islands to the British. In return, China received a promise that the islands would be returned to it after 99 years, at the end of the single negotiated term of lease.
The Family Qiu
Qiu Shi & Ding Ning Father and mother of 4 beautiful daughters. Qiu Shi means the harvested food from the Autumn. He was an engineer and worked his life to build for the country. Ding Ning was a primary school teacher. Both were considered as well educated at their time and they raised their daughters well.
Qiu Ling 邱玲— the eldest sister. She works as an accountant in a nation owned factory. It was considered the most steady job you could have in that time. She was always busy and working to earn money for the family. She married a man who served in the army for a few years, Li Zisen.
Li Zisen 李子森 — the husband of the eldest sister. He is an accountant too. They grew up in the same community and parted their ways when she went to college and Zisen went to serve in the army. They were always arguing since they got married. Zisen was never a tolerating person.
Qiu Yu 邱瑜— the second daughter. She has a pair of twins, a son and a daughter. She was a quantity surveyor. She had a really good job and earned the most among the four sisters in her 30s before she resigned.
Liang Xu 梁旭— second daughter’s husband. He was an engineer, working in a different city far away from the family. He only comes back once or twice a year.
Qiu Jing 邱璟 — the third daughter, later the big parent of the entire family. She grew up as a professional athlete and most well educated of the family. She left home at age of 13 and lived on herself in the athlete team. She was married once, and divorced. One may say that she is married into this family and all the children of her sisters’ are hers.
Qiu Wen 邱玟— the youngest daughter. She was the favorite child of the entire family, well protected. At age 12, she caught a bad cold helping her teachers to move cabbages around and later turned into Rheumatic fever. She lived with her heart conditions for life. The doctor told her that she would never give birth, it is just too risky. Before Jing left home, they were the closest.
Tang Lin 汤霖— the fourth daughter’s husband. He served in the navy and worked as an electrician on the ship. After being discharged, he worked in Luoyang City, and met Wen through his sister-in-law’s introduction.
Li Ye 李冶— Son of the eldest daughter. He grew up with his grandparents on the father’s side.
Liang Ping 梁平— Son of the second daughter, 5 min older than the twin sister.
Liang An 梁安— Daughter of the second daughter.
Tang Ying 汤迎— Daughter of the fourth daughter.
Chapter 1. Simple Life in LuoYang
The story begins in 1996. Qiu Shi and Ding Ning are retired and they live in LuoYang City.
The eldest daughter Ling is always busy and she seldom comes to visit. Maybe now and then, she brings her son Ye to visit the grandparents. They live not far from each other.
The second daughter Xing is always busy and she seldom comes to visit. Maybe now and then, she brings her twins Ping and An to visit the grandparents. They live not far from each other.
The third daughter Jing is always busy and she rarely comes to visit. Maybe once or twice a year, she takes a 2 hour train ride from ZhengZhou City to visit. They live far from each other.
The fourth daughter Wen is always busy and she visits everyday. She sends her daughter to the grandparents and asks them to babysit for her during the day. They live very close to each other.
Life in the age of late 20s and early 30s is busy.
Busy. Always busy.
The retired parents are in their late 50s and both of them are well and mostly healthy. Qiu Shi has a bit of problem with his blood pressure, but nothing too concerning.
They had fun babysitting the youngest granddaughter. Ning sometimes complains about how Tang Ying never stops crying after lunch and never goes to sleep without taking her out for a walk. The complaints were real, just as real as Ning’s big smile on her face while she was wooing the baby to sleep.
Time flows slowly. It is peaceful and quiet. They are happy.
Chapter 2. Winter Came
It was a year of joy and then suddenly the storm hit.
The winter was cold and no one was ready for it.
Ning got lung infection and landed up in the hospital.
Shi, while running around taking care of her, got a minor stroke.
Approaching the end of the year, Ling was sent to another city to examine and verify some numbers for her company. Xing’s children are on winter vacation and she needs to take care of them.
Wen’s husband has high fever and landed up in the hospital. She cooks for all three sick people while taking care of the 4 year old daughter Ying.
Luckily, Jing came home. She helped Ying and took care of their parents.
Jing decided to move the parents from LuoYang City to ZhengZhou City, where she could take better care of them. After their recovery.
She realized how much this family is falling apart and she decided to unite the family together and the first step was to bring her old parents to Zhengzhou City and start taking care of them.
Chapter 3. Moving to the Big City
Wen’s husband, Lin gave up the opportunity to get an assigned job by the government when he was discharged from the army. Instead, he took the 4000 rmb compensation. He planned to run a farm and start his own business. 4000rmb was a lot. Wen’s monthly salary was around 600rmb at that time.
They planned to move back to the village, together with their daughter Ying.
Ning didn't want her precious granddaughter Ying to go to the village and grow up away from the city. The education resource and everything is too behind in the village. Ning, once a teacher herself, knows how important it is to get proper education for a girl.
Ning persuaded Jing to bring Ying and her parents to the big city.
They had a deal: Lin and Wen must pay Ning monthly for food and living expenses. They live altogether at an apartment Jing bought for Shi and Ning in the city. Ying goes to the primary school right next to the building they live in.
Jing lives one block away from them. They gather together every weekend to have family dinner.
Jing is doing well as in the administration office of the primary school and Ying attended the school without any difficulties.
Wen and Lin started their new life in the big city. Both them had only high school education and neither of them have specialty skills. Jing paid for Lin’s training tuition to learn how to drive and helped him to get a driving job in the City Landscaping Bureau. Wen worked at a gas station.
Life was not as easy as they thought it would be, but they tried to adapt.
Chapter 4. Stay together
Jing had a promotion and started to work at the City Education Bureau. She bought a bigger house a bit further from where they used to live. Shi spent a lot of time and energy to design and decorate the new house. In 2005, they moved together to the two story apartment. That was the first time they all lived together after they left the town they grew up in, since the 1980s.
Things were mostly smooth. People had different habits but they all tolerated each other.
Jing was busy as always, Wen had a new job in the city bureau and started to work as an assistant.
In 2007, Shi was diagnosed with stomach cancer.
It was very sudden.
Jing and Wen never expected their father to get old, not to mention getting stomach cancer.
They stayed together with Shi in his last days. Yu resigned from her high-paid job and made available 24/7 for her father. Jing cooked everyday for their father and took all the annual leaves she could to stay in the hospital. Wen had to deal with her new job, but she visited Shi almost everyday and stayed over the weekends. The eldest sister was busy in LuoYang, she drives 2 hr every week to visit over the weekends. The four sisters worked together to take care of the sick father. There were minor arguments, but they all worked towards the same goal and they helped each other along the way.
During the crisis, Jing became the leader of the family.
There was an earthquake in SiChuan Province, even people in Zhengzhou felt it.
People in the hospital all evacuated from the building. The father was too sick to move. Jing was there. Shi asked her to leave. Jing stayed.
They didn’t know how bad the earthquake was.
The signals are gone. The windows are shaking. The dangling lights were swinging.
They held each other’s hands and stayed together.
to be continued...
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