Memories of My Mother’s Visits From China

The pandemic has prevented me from visiting her, but I remember fondly our trips together.


Graphic by Monica Inouye/SAC.Media.

Every day at around 2:30 to 3:00 p.m. is the time that my mother, who is 93, calls me on WeChat, and we see each other on our cell phones. It is the happiest moment for me to know that I still have a mother since my father passed away seven years ago. Unfortunately, it has been nearly two years since I have seen my mother face-to-face because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
I did have a plan to see my mother last summer, but my trip failed due to the coronavirus which broke out in spring. From last March to this March, here in Los Angeles, I stayed at home all the time to prevent myself from getting the disease. During the critical time, there were limited flights from Los Angeles to Guangzhou, my home town. There was also a series of strict checking reports required before people took a flight to China. Also, there was a 14-day hotel quarantine after arrival.
The flight was risky and tiresome. Passengers had to wear a face mask and a protective gown —a personal choice—for a 13-hour journey. Some people tried to eat and drink less to avoid using the restroom too frequently. One of my old classmates told me about the challenges after taking a flight back to Guangzhou. It was difficult to make the trip back to China even though we missed our family members very much.
In China, family members are very close, and parents are the family’s spiritual figures even after the children have grown up.
“If you have parents, then you have a home; if your parents are gone, your home is gone,” Chinese people would say. Older parents usually connect three generations in large families. When my father left us, my mother was the only parent for my sisters and me, and we still have a home. Chinese people always believe in “respecting teachers, and respecting knowledge.” Chinese people also are required to “caring for the oldest, and caring for the youngest.”
Adult sons and daughters should take good care of their older parents.
“Don’t wait to do something for your parents if you don’t want any regrets when they leave you,” people usually say.
On the other hand, older parents like to stay with their adult children especially when they feel lonely and not as strong as before. The adult children conversely become parents’ strong reliance. My mother needs me and needs my sisters, but on the contrary, we also need her.
My sisters and I always have tried our best to do something more for our mother. In the past eight years, we brought her here three times to stay with us in Los Angeles. Each time she would stay several months with us. And when she stayed in China with my eldest sister, I would fly back to see her each year.
I remember the time in May 2014, three months after my father left, I arranged and accompanied my mother for her first trip to the United States. It was the first time for her to go abroad in her life, so she was thrilled and excited about it.
We booked with a famous Chinese travel agency for a 10-day round trip to California. My mother and I joined seven other people as a travel group. My daughter also joined us because she wanted to stay with her grandma. It was a fantastic trip with many sightseeing spots and beautiful scenery. The journey was from Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon, and then back to Los Angeles and San Diego. A travel van drove us, 10 people, in the north direction. We visited Solvang the Danish village, Hearst Castle, Lombard Street, Pier 39, the Golden Gate Bridge, and the bridge cruise in San Francisco.
In Las Vegas, we saw the grand show “Le Reve” and “The Dream” at the Wynn, directed by Franco Dragone, a famous Belgium director. We enjoyed the water fountain outside Bellagio Hotel and Casino. My mother later saw Dragone’s other two grand shows “The House of Dancing Water” in Macao and the “Han Show” in China. I am a fan of Dragone, and I like all his productions.
In the Grand Canyon, the natural scenery was magnificent and splendid. My mother was shocked by the beautiful scenery. Back in Los Angeles, we went to Hollywood and visited TCL Chinese Theatre and the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In San Diego, we visited the Harbor, the USS Midway Museum, the Sailor Statue, and the Mexican Village where we ate seafood. I took many photos of my mother with her happy face. Even now, she always talks to me about her first exciting visit to the United States.
My mother’s second visit was in 2016, on the first day of Chinese Spring New Year. She was very excited to come again and didn’t feel tired after a flight of 13 hours and 10 minutes. We visited two relatives right after the arrival.
The third time my mother visited Los Angeles was in 2018. She was very proud of herself for taking such a long flight trip at the age of 90. She was delighted when we brought her to visit the Old Town, China Town, and had dinners with relatives in Chinese Restaurants. She had a wonderful time with my sister and I and all family members and relatives in Los Angeles.
Recently, after the COVID-19 vaccination has become available for many people in Los Angeles, the pandemic is gradually becoming under control and the situation is getting much better for the whole country.
I am still concerned about the new outbreak in India and the new transformation in England, Brazil and South Africa. I am still scared and wonder when I can make my trip to see my mother and how much the airline ticket costs now. How many days is still required for quarantine, and can I catch the summer? I still have no answer for it yet. What I can do is just wait and see. I miss my mother. I am very grateful to my dear Professor Toni Albertson who is leading me into journalism, where I started from zero to a complete overview of journalism at JOUR 100 last year and now to a significant first step and leap at JOUR 101, 116 this year. Without Professor Albertson, I am still blind in this field. Professor Albertson is an excellent and great educator. Also, I would like to give many thanks to my dear talented classmates; they are good examples of Professor Albertson’s educational outcomes. How strong the Mt. SAC journalism! What an excellent Professor Albertson and her students!