Miss my dearest mother
In May of this year, my dearest mother aged 92 left this beautiful world and went to heaven.
Looking back on my mother’s life, she dedicated herself entirely to the education of others in mathematics. In despite of she experienced many hardships throughout life, mother still strongly continued on. She worked diligently and conscientiously during her career in not only University, but also in Christian schools and a night time school for labourers. She thought of teaching as a noble career and felt duty bound to serve society.
My mother was born in 1917 into a well-educated and wealthy family. My open minded Grandfather was head of the local council. After moving to Shanghai he became a successful business man. My mother was not pampered or spoilt, despite being raised in a high-class environment. She was independent, diligent and thrifty. At a very young age she lost vision in one eye due to serious illness. Even after this she was brave in reality without becoming deeply depressed, instead, she was more determined and hard working than ever.
During childhood, my mother received a strict formal education. She studied Confucious and Chinese classical literature. She was fluent in English as Mathematics books were written in English. Her pastimes included singing English songs and writing poetry. As a teenager my mother passed an examination into a first class Chinese university. It was rare for a woman to study mathematics in university at that time. My mother was the favourite student of famous Chinese mathematics masters. Before the culture revolution, she was head of basic mathematics in the university mathematics department. She was a conscientious, professional and thoughtful teacher who was careful in her preparation for her classes. There were more than 100 students in her classes. Sometimes teachers would attend her classes for inspection and learning purposes. To engage students in mathematics she used a variety of teaching strategies that made it interesting and easier for students to understand. She was highly praised by all.
Mother did not resent other people or like gossip. Her personality type was quiet, honest and tolerant. At the start of “The Cultural Revolution” such people were persecuted. My parents were labelled “black class”. Our house was searched and our precious possessions were confiscated. My parents were forced to do hard physical labour and self-criticise. They were tortured and treated like criminals. Sadly my father died after suffering torments for two years. . During this human disaster my mother endured great grief due to the loss of my father and strained to bear the humiliation that she suffered. She was made to teach factory workers the most elementary mathematics in the evening course for a long period and sent to the countryside for doing heavy work. All the mistreatment she received during this time deeply ruined her health. Even though miserable and overwhelmed, her optimism, faith in life, and love for her children gave her the strength to live on. After 10 years of devastation my parents were eventually rehabilitated. At 60 years of age, my mother was inspired as she could give lectures in university again.
As a mother, she paid much attention to the education of her children. Not believing in the physical punishment of children, she adopted a method of toleration and guidance. Despite the chaos of the Cultural Revolution, my mother raised us to be responsible and trustworthy. In this extremely harsh environment she earnestly and tirelessly instructed us to be moral and upright.
My mother was generous and delighted herself in helping others. She was nice to friends and relatives. On occasion or at Chinese festivals mother would warmly invite them to dinner. For herself she provided simply and thriftily. When friends or relatives assisted, she felt immensely grateful and would always seek ways to return the favour. Servants in our home were treated with equal respect and well paid. Mother was also helpful and caring in teaching neighbours and friends mathematics, this was especially after the Cultural Revolution when entrance examinations into university were restored. Many neighbours and friends requested mathematics tutoring which she would enthusiastically and patiently offered without monetary reward.
After retirement, mother intended to translate the latest English mathematics book into Chinese; however she could not find any new material due to lack of information. An additional problem was a cataract in her sole eye. Relying on magnifiers to read books and magazines, she had to give up her original plan. In her later years, she cared more about family than herself and did not want to be a burden. Mother was reluctant to see doctors as she did not wish for us to apply for work leave to accompany her. At 90 years of age mother was able to look after herself and helped around the house. When critically ill in last days, she still tried to prop herself up independently.
Now mother is in heaven, her noble qualities of uprightness, kindness, thriftiness and toleration will always be our guiding light. The spirit of becoming stronger through unceasing effort is her most precious legacy.
I wish that my mother and father are united in heaven and can finally rest from the world. I will miss my mother forever.