Last Thursday at 10:30 pm, my mother Mary passed away. It was quick, which I’m thankful for. She did not suffer.
She lived in a nursing home for several years — the last two years of her life in a steady decline. Thursday night her breathing became labored, so they put her on oxygen, but the levels kept dropping, until… the inevitable.
I was not even in Wuxi at the time, but in Changzhou, in the middle of judging a senior high school speech competition. My brother wanted to speak to me on the phone, but there I was stuck in a hotel without the ability to make a long distance call to Canada.
So the news came by email first. I mouthed the words slowly, as though English suddenly became alien and I forgot meaning and grammar. It was odd to receive such explosive news that way. Is this the price I pay for my adopted lifestyle?
I was always fascinated why my mother chose or was given the biblical name of Mary for her Canadian identity. It suggests that she was destined to marry a solid man and bear saintly children.