During World War II, when the Japanese invaded China, many young men were forced into the Chinese army to help defend against the Japanese forces. My great-grandfather on my mother’s side was one such man. This left Great-grandmother widowed and burdened by her father-in-law and son she needed to care for. The next few decades would be tough but my ancestors overcame this hardship and moved on.
At that time, Great-grandmother and her husband lived and worked together in the rural area of the Zhangzhou province. She had been pregnant with Grandfather when Great-grandfather was drafted into the army by some recruiting officers. There was no warning. In the middle of the day, when she was busy making lunch for him, the officers had marched straight up to their farm and dragged him away. Without her husband, my great-grandmother was left to support herself, the child she was carrying, and her father-in-law, who was too old to work. Every morning she would wake up early ...view middle of the document...
Others said he managed to sneak away and escape to Japan where he spent the last few years of his life. The most popular theory was that he was desperately homesick, so he deserted the army and tried to go back to his village but was shot on the spot.
Grandfather grew up without a father and left home for work, leaving his mother to provide for herself. But one year, he heard about the drowned crops, flooded roads, and havoc caused by the terrible flooding, so he came back to check on Great-grandmother. On his way back, Grandfather had to cross the flooded river. Even the bridge was submerged under the torrent, and you could barely see the other side. Holding onto the wooden side-rails, he inched his way across, almost falling in the river that threatened to sweep him away. At the other side, he was greeted by Great-grandmother in tears. Her house had been washed away by the flood-waters and almost nothing was left. Rebuilding their life was hard. Grandfather stayed in his hometown and looked everywhere for jobs, taking almost any that paid. During this time they lived with some kind neighbors who let them sleep under their roof.
When life finally returned to normal, Great-grandmother decided to adopt a daughter. The times were hard enough already and another mouth to feed just made it even harder, but they pushed on. It was during that time that Grandfather met Grandmother. It was love at first sight. They married and had my mother and then her sister and brother. Funny enough, Grandfather, who was often away for jobs in other regions, seemed scary to my mother as a child. Once, when he came back, my mother did not recognize him. She was expecting her father but saw instead a stranger. Bawling, she hid behind my grandmother, scared of this tall and threatening man. As he came closer, she only cried harder, not willing to stop and look at her father’s face. I’m sure that evening was a rough one, and very embarrassing for my mother, but he grew on her and now my mother and her father are very close.
War had wrecked Great-grandmother’s life by taking away her husband, but she had kept on going, and her son grew up under those harsh circumstances. He met Grandmother, and had my mother and her two siblings. And now there is me. Great-grandmother’s family line had overcome the hardships of war and is still thriving today.