Remembering my mother Jiang Haiying.
My mother, Jiang Haiying, was born in 1938 in Wang Bianzhuang, Huairen County, Shanxi Province. Her father's name was Jiang Zhou and her mother's name was Yang Ernu. She had four brothers and a sister. She was the fourth child. At that time, the family lived in a rural area, did not have much money. At that time her father only allowed the boys to go to school. By the time she had a chance to go to school she was three years behind her peers, but she studied hard to catch up. In order to get to school, she would have to take the mountain road, and on the road it is also possible to meet wolves. However, she didn't back down. She became the first female college student to come out of Wang Bianzhuang. The people of my hometown were very proud of her and called her the golden phoenix that flew out of the chicken's nest.
After graduating from college, my mother married my father, Meng Zhiguang. She came to Baotou City, Inner Mongolia, to support the remote area and she became a senior agronomist. My father was a pharmacist at Baogang Hospital. The two fell in love and raised three daughters. Because of her dedication to learning, she supported all three of us in school at the time when the monthly salary was only 70 yuan. My grandmother lived with us, so we were a family of six. It was extremely difficult for us to go to school.
My clearest memory is that when my sister and I had been admitted to Baogang Number One, the best middle school in Baogang, the school required uniforms. Each person needed to pay 25 yuan. My mother still paid in order for us to be able to have school uniforms like other children. As a result, the grain was tight that month. My oldest sister was 12-13 years older than me and my other sister, and she worked early because of the financial conditions of our family. When the family's financial conditions improved and there was an opportunity at work. Our mother paid so my oldest sister could work during the day and go to college at night. Our mother treated us equally.
I also remember those days when I was in primary school. The Chinese New Year was our favorite holiday because that was the only time we had candy to eat. Our new clothes and shoes were all made by the family. Eating white rice and white buns was rare. My mother's thrifty, hard and simple lifestyle allowed all three of us a good education. Today the eldest daughter, Meng Runmei, is an accountant in China. Her second daughter, Meng Wenmei, works as a software engineer in Germany. Her third daughter, Meng Xianmei, works as an optical engineer in the United States. The old Chinese saying: the greatest person in the world is the mother.
My mother was a compassionate and kind person. When our own family was not financially well off and when the people of her father's family needed it, she sent as much money as she was able to. She did the same when the people of her mother's family needed it. Even when the family was in good condition, she still did the same. She's been frugal all her life. After coming to the United States, she told us to save water for the sake of future generations. When we bought clothes for her, she would always say, ‘no, no, I still have clothes to wear.’
After retirement in China, my mother came to believe in Jesus. She was the second Christian in our family. I believed Jesus first, three years after I came to the United States. Whenever we spoke on the telephone, I told her about the good news. At first she said to me: I am a Communist, you should not be confused. Thanks to God, one of her neighbor asked her to go to church with her. When the neighbor went to Japan to see their daughter she believed in Jesus. My mother's careful studious attitude again benefited her. At one of the baptism classes, she was late because she had walked for one hour to attend the 7:30 am class. She looked up from taking notes and saw a white dove on the priest's shoulder. She told me about it later, and I told her that the white dove represented the Holy Ghost. As a result of God's guidance and grace, she was baptized in the name of the Lord and became a Christian.
She has attended church ever since. If the family was busy on Sunday, she would go to church on Saturday. When she came back home, she sometimes told my father about the scriptures that she had read that day. After many years, I went back to China to visit relatives and asked my father if he would like to believe In Jesus. My father said yes. This was the first seed of gospel that my mother planted.
After my father died in 2015, my mother agreed to come to America with us. Because she had diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and other conditions, she didn’t dare to fly. We were also concerned and so we bought her first-class tickets. She couldn't sleep the night before the flight and her blood pressure rose the next day. She was scared, but after prayer, she was safe. God kept her safe on her journey to America.
The second time she flew, she was coming back from China with my second sister. The same thing happened. My second sister almost called to change the flight. My husband, Fu Chunsheng, called them and prayed for my mother. In the end she relied on God's grace to bravely board the plane back to the United States.
While in the United States, she attended the River of Life Christian Church in Boston with us. She'll come as long as the sermon is in Chinese. I saw many notes on her desk that she took while listening. She read the devotional literature, Living Water, every day until she couldn’t read. She told us: in China the words were only the words to her, but now the meaning penetrated the heart and became action.
I regret not doing more for my mother while she was with us. Chunsheng was able to enrich her life. In addition to the church, he also set her up to go to Aging Well Adult Day Health Center. She shared her Horn newspaper and Overseas Digest, with the elderly people there.
Despite her age, she volunteered with several brothers and sisters in Christ from the Acton group at the Acton Senior Center. She also invited people to church. Last Christmas when we went to visit the elderly at the Life Care Center of Acton, my mother went and helped other elderly people make bracelets and origami turkey. Although she did not understand English, she was still willing to go. The old people who accepted the paper turkeys were very happy. Love transcends the boundaries of language. When I saw her in the old people's home with a stack of paper turkeys to give to people, I finally understood why she was holding a bag. My mother showed her cared for others and learned from the teachings of Jesus.
At the end of February this year, my mother had decreased appetite and lost weight. We checked with a doctor and found that the CEA cancer index in the blood was higher than normal. A CT scan of the abdomen and an ultrasound were performed, but no root cause was found. Later, it was found that there was a lump in the lymph nodes on the left side of her neck. A lymph node biopsy can only determine if there is lymphoma, not lung cancer or pancreatic cancer. It was not until early May that a gastroscopy was performed and she was diagnosed with stage four stomach cancer. The oncologist and gastric doctors said that because the cancer had metastasized, it could not be operated on, only chemotherapy or immunotherapy could to prolong her life, for perhaps 3-6 more months. My mother said she was old and decided not to do any chemotherapy or immunotherapy.
She put herself in God’s hands and asked God to heal her or to take her away. From the start of illness to the end of her life, my mother was confident, not afraid. We worshiped and prayed with her every night. After each prayer, her mental state was much better. Two pastors also prayed for her in a WeChat video call. It was not easy for her to eat during her illness, but she always tried to eat. In her dreams, God gave her the word of Ephesians 2:4, "because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ... it is by grace you have been saved.”
We prayed to God to reduce her pain and let the angels protect her. God was faithful and heard our plea: my mother’s pain had been within control of her medication, and almost no morphine was used. In the most difficult days, we asked her if she was in pain, and she replied, "No pain." She didn't have much physical strength to walk, but God kept her from falling.
On her last day she was unable to recognize people, but when we worshipped in her room (with the songs "I know my Redeemer is alive" and "The Lamb of God deserves it"), she said clearly five times: "Jesus loves me." That night Pastor Xu and Pastor Zhou came to pray for her. I was tired after the pastors left that evening, but I was afraid of missing my mother's time. I prayed to God before taking a nap, and asked Him to wake me up. God really did wake me up and I was able to video call my sisters with WeChat to see the mother's face for the last time. On July, 29th at 12:39 am, I held my mother's hand and saw her breathing fade and finally stopped. She passed peacefully.
The next day, Aunt Song, a good friend of my mother's, sent me a WeChat saying she dreamed that my mother came to say goodbye to her with two angels around her and said, “I am gone.” The person she saw in her dream was beautiful and had a smile on her face. There are times I wondered if mother would really go to heaven, but God knew my mother and arranged to pick her up. God's kindness is extremely vast and faithful.
Looking back on my mother's five years in America, I have some regrets, but I am thankful for her time with us. Chunsheng’s good temper and was very kind to my mother. May my mother rest from the world's hard work because the Lord has prepared for her heavenly home for her.
Memorial page actonfuneralhome.com