When I grew up, I heard a lot of horrendous stories about mischievous, deceitful mothers-in-law, which make their children-in-laws’ life a living hell. I am lucky that I got a lovably, but sometimes most of the time crazy Chinese mother-in-law. The only time, she shows her ‘dark side’ is when she needles Chinese father-in-law into fully grown fights where sparks fly. Chinese father-in-law definitely knows how to fight back, although he is a rather quiet guy most of the time. But most of all, Chinese father-in-law is stubborn.
Chinese father-in-law is how I always imaged an old Chinese grandpa. His white short hair and white cliché Kung-Fu-master beard highly contrasts on his dark tanned skin he got from always working outside. While he looks rather athletic from going to the pool every day to swim a few laps, he is rather small in height. He has a really cheerful nature and loves to spend his free time with his little granddaughter, and if you need help, he will be the first one to volunteer. He really is a lovely, strong-willed grandpa. But(!) he is also one of those Chinese guys who would rather try to treat cancer with herb tea instead of relying on modern academic medicine. Although he reads the South China Morning Post every day, his pearls of wisdom he drops every now and then might lead one to the assumption that he still lives in Hong Kong of the 1980s. And if he is persuaded of something, he stubbornly sticks to his opinion. The sky is blue? No, it is green with red dots! Pigs cannot fly? Yes they can!
While we learned how to deal with his willfulness most of the time, he gave us a nasty shock last year’s June. I was sick in bed with an awful acute bronchitis, when Chinese mother-in-law called. She was so upset that I did not understood what she meant. I handed the phone to Mr. Panda, and after a few minutes, he told me that he had to go persuade his father to go to the hospital immediately. Although he really wanted me to come with him, my fever prevented me from moving even one inch. All the more, if Chinese father-in-law was really sick, I should not see him with my symptoms anyway. So, unfortunately, I was forced to stay at home and wait for further notice whether he was ok or not. A few hours later, Mr. Panda came home, and finally told me what happened.
Chinese father-in-law was already feeling sick for a few days. His stomach hurt and on that aforementioned day, his state became worse. He had troubles breathing, and he could not even stand straight anymore because of the sharp pain coming from his abdomen. Chinese mother-in-law told him to go to the next hospital for a check-up, but stubborn as he was, he only laughed at her, but would go see a doctor anyway just so she would stop with her nagging. Chinese father-in-law finally went to see a family doctor, who wanted to call the ambulance and send him to the next hospital right away. But once again, stubborn as he is, he refused and promised that he would go to the hospital by himself right away. But instead of doing so, he went back home, and resumed to lay in bed, convulsed with pain.
That was when Chinese mother-in-law called us, crying and begging us to come over and take him to the hospital. Mr. Panda jumped into the car and drove over, and together they annoyed him enough encouraged him. He claimed over and over again, that it was not necessary to see another doctor at all, but finally gave in and allowed his son to drive him to the next hospital’s emergency room. The next thing what happened was that the hospital staff made a blood test, a medical ultrasonic and a few moments later he was rushed to the operating room, followed by a week in intensive care.
That day last year in June, Chinese mother-in-law’s constant bugging saved her stubborn husband’s life. He had an active gastric ulcer which bled into his stomach for quite some time already, and therefore he almost choked because there was not enough blood in his body anymore to transport enough oxygen through his body. After the incident when he almost lost one finger, he once again put his life in danger just because he did not want to see a physician. Once again we all had to talk to him, even shout, until he finally gave in. He tells all the time that he does not want to make any troubles for us, but at the same time he forgets that we worry even more when he does not take care of himself. Now that he is back in Hong Kong, we cannot look after him, and we have to trust him that he will seek medical help in case he needs it. But to tell the truth, neither of us think he will do so. So we just live our lives here, call him frequently and hope that he will listen to his body.
Is your father-in-law also so stubborn? Does he also give you a tough time sometimes?
This post is dedicated to Marta, who wants to read more about Chinese father-in-laws. 🙂