A Tragedy Which Made Me Stronger Forever

During martial law in Taiwan, the Legislative Yuan in Taiwan used the "Punishment of Rebels Ordinance" and the "Mobilization for the Suppression of Communist Rebellion Provisional Act" to control people who were involved in political activities against the government. This was to prevent the spread of the Chinese Communist Party and to strengthen the ability of those in power in the Republic of China to rule Taiwan. According to the Ministry of Justice's report to the Legislature, Military Courts received 29,407 political cases, and there were more than 20 million people who were "White Terror" victims.

My family was one of the innocent victim families abused during the martial law and we lost all our fundamental rights. Because my mother had a picture and a business card of a person who was involved in political activities, she was sentenced to 6 years and 8 months in prison when I was fourteen. I remember that she disappeared for three days after she came back from a winter business trip to Japan. My father nervously called all over looking for her. Finally, the Military Court informed us to meet my mom at the meeting room of the National Police Agency, Ministry of Interior.

We all gathered in the small room around my mom. She looked so calm with her blue and black English checkered wool coat, and she smiled as usual. My three older sisters and two younger brothers started to cry while I was wondering what was happening to her. My mom said to us, "All of you, do not panic nor worry, just believe me that I did not do anything wrong to the country. The six of you from now on will have to take care of yourselves and help your father while I am gone." Then a man came to the room to tell us we must leave in five minutes. We had to leave our mom in prison because there was no way to rescue her. Due to some health damages from being in prison, my mom passed away 6 months after she was released. Even though her absence was a tragedy to my family, it had positive impacts on my life. Not just creating who I am now, but also making my life have a purpose to love the people in the whole world.

My mom is a great example to me, and she gave me a strong fundamental education. She had been a patient elementary school teacher, a famous travel guide between Japan and Taiwan, and a generous and optimistic business woman. Even though she was in prison, she wrote letters to encourage me and to show me how to organize my schedule and study efficiently. Therefore, I was always on the honor roll at school. Also, she was joking around and saying "Finally someone can feed me well, so I can rest and read more books I want to read." Her sense of humor and teaching remain in my mind, and it made me become an optimistic person and always see things from different angles. For example, I have never been afraid of the dark because I believe in what she said, "When you are afraid of something in the dark, you must turn on the light and face it. The more you face it, the more you release your fear." In addition, I am not easily sentimental. My father drank almost every day and cried helplessly because he failed to rescue my mother. He was also upset that my two younger brothers were hanging out with gang members to feel some kind of security and acceptance. I told my father firmly, "Dad, we cannot just sit and cry, we need to move on."

After graduating from high school, my father had to tell the nannie to leave because he could no longer afford to pay her. Instead of hating the government and damaging my soul, I increased my knowledge and skills to help my family and to survive. First, I became more independent and responsible to myself. For example, I understood that my father had no money for me to go to college, so I stayed at home for a while and did all the chores for my family. I not only shopped and bargained at the market, but also cooked meals, ironed and sewed buttons for my dad and my younger brothers' clothes, cleaned the house, and did laundry for the whole family. I worked part time at different places to get my own allowance; taught violin at a music store, sold moon cakes at the market, and stored shoes for people at the swimming pool. In addition, my two older sisters were married, and one had to get her music degree in Europe. I realized I had to have more power to support my father, so I studied hard and passed the test to get into The Taipei Teacher's College. After I graduated from college, I became a teacher when I was 25 years old.

After working for eight years, I used my mom's ways of saving and investing money. Therefore, I invested some money in stocks, bought some gold, and continued studying in college, ate healthy foods to strengthen my body, and made a lot of good friends. When I learned about the gospel of Jesus Christ, I joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to become a Christian. I finally found my true happiness and purpose. It is to help more people, and I believe all the challenges are lessons to make me stronger forever. Because I lost my mother, I care a lot about the kids who do not have a mother.

In 1998, I moved to USA to marry my husband who has two kids. Since we got married, my passion is to not just love Chinese kids, but also kids of different races; such as Americans, Mexicans, and Koreans. Also, I was very active in the church and was the ward missionary that took care of other families. The more I visited different families, the more I have compassion for them, and the more I care about society. The jobs that I did or I am working are not only to earn money for living, but also to be close to the people that I want to help. I work at Orangethorpe Learning Center weekdays to help low income Latino kids with their homework. On Saturdays, I teach Chinese at the North Orange County Chinese School to help Asian immigrants keep their culture. On Sundays, I am a nursery teacher at church to teach kids about family love. In 2007, I became the Chinese School vice principal to support the Chinese teachers in their teaching. In addition, in 2010, I worked as the secretary of North Orange County Chinese Culture Association to shoot videos and photos, help with fundraiser dinners, maintain their website, and publish the yearbooks. Moreover, I provide the voting booth in my garage every year for the county elections. I have met city council members, mayors, assemblymen, congressmen, and State Senators to support their elections. I believe if I support the great people of the country, I can help more people in the world.

Life is like a learning process. When a tragedy comes, it doesn't mean you have to suffer the sorrow forever. My mom's absence from our family has given me the chances to grow wiser. All the challenges I met had made me become a woman with a strong spirit, knowledge, skills, and a giving person who can inspire others to the world. When people asked me about which regime I belong to, I replied, "I belong to God. Whoever can make the world become a better place are all my friends." The more I help people, the more happiness I will have, and it has become my life purpose. I appreciate the most valuable chances and important experiences that my mom gave me!

Patricia Liu
March 2011

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