Earth to Earth, Dust to Dust, Ashes to Ashes

March 31, 2010

It may take more than a few decades to change China’s culture to value girls equal to boys. China’s government is working to make that happen—that journey started in 1949, when Mao said, “Women hold up half the sky.” It isn’t easy overcoming several thousand years of culture.

Faith’s journey started at the age of two from rural China where poverty and a life of hard labor can be crushing. To encourage poor parents, who want a boy instead of a girl, not to throw a female infant in the closest river, government run orphanages have a no-punishment policy toward parents that abandon girls. Orphanages are surrounded by a wall with a drawer in that wall where parents may leave the child. The parent rings a bell, then hurries away.

Michelle Dremmer traveled from Chicago to China  more than fifteen years ago to rescue one of those orphans. She fell in love with the two-year-old, who was past the desired age of many adoptive parents, and she gave Faith a life of “happiness, opportunity and love” that few orphans in China experience.

Faith Dremmer

Another journey of five-hundred miles started on bikes and ended in tragedy for Faith, who was 17. I first wrote about this in Saying Goodbye, soon after hearing about the accident that claimed Faith’s life. Two of the girls survived. One spent eleven hours in surgery.

The driver of the van, who hit the girls, was an 86-year-old man. He was not injured. A friend of the driver said he was a good Christian who never drank and was close to his family—three children, six grandchildren and several great-grandchildren. I cannot imagine the burden of guilt he will carry for what life he has left.

I cry easily watching movies. It doesn’t take much to turn on the tears. My wife and daughter know this and when one of those scenes appears on the screen, they always look.

Doesn’t make sense. I shouldn’t cry that easily. After all, I’m a former United States Marine. I fought in Vietnam and taught in tough, barrio schools for thirty years where you had to be “mean” (what I call tough love without physical violence) to survive. It embarrasses me when those tears appear in public against my will.

The tears let lose this morning when I was alone. I went on-line and read about Faith’s funeral in the Chicago Tribune. Nearly 1,300 mourners attended. Actually, I read six pieces that started with the accident and Faith’s death to the one where a photo with my  daughter and three of Faith’s friends were walking back into the temple with their arms around each other. They had just carried Faith’s coffin to the hearse.

In another Chicago Tribune piece, there’s a picture showing the four girls carrying the coffin from the temple. The pain is etched on their faces. Maybe I cry easily when others suffer because I saw so much brutality and death in the war, or it’s something in my DNA that I inherited from my mother. She was the weepy sort—not my father.

I’m looking at the “goodbye” photo in the Chicago Tribune as I write this. I see one girl’s head bent in agony.

Although I can’t see her face and eyes, my daughter is holding a tissue in one white gloved hand. I think she is crying.

Every since I drove my wife and daughter to the airport, I’ve been alone with my thoughts—my emotions.

I didn’t know Faith as well as my wife and daughter did. My wife was with Michelle when they went to China to get Faith. My daughter spent six early years of her life in the same house with Faith and Michelle. As children, they grew up closest friends. As teens, they were separated by more than two thousand miles.

I read some of Faith’s words in the Chicago Tribune and heard her voice. “You ask me who my mother is, and I say Michelle Dremmer. She is my mother and will always be.” And Michelle says, “I didn’t save Faith. She saved me.”

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Saying Goodbye

March 28, 2010

To the Chinese, the hardest goodbye is when white hair buries dark. This week, a  friend of our daughter’s died a tragic death at 17. The lost daughter’s name was Faith. Her story, like so many, was told in The Lost Daughters of China by Karin Evans, a book about abandoned girls and their journeys to American homes with loving adopted parents.

The phone call arrived at midnight from Faith’s mother. When my wife answered, I could hear and feel the grief like a bullet—my eyes filled with tears and an ache formed where my heart beats. No mother should suffer the loss of a child.

On the way to the airport, I listened to a memory about our daughter and Faith when they were in preschool together and a boy took a toy from our daughter. He refused to give it back. Faith came to the rescue.  She was only four or five. She demanded the toy be returned. The boy refused and Faith attacked biting him on the elbow.

You see, she had learned to survive in an orphanage in China where life can be a challenge. She was loyal to those she loved, who loved her. As long as those memories are shared and kept alive, she will always be with those who knew her.

The rest of Faith’s tragic journey may be discovered at Earth to Earth, Dirt to Dirt, Ashes to Ashes

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You’ve Come a Long Way, Babe

March 27, 2010

Women in China have walked long distances on healthy feet since 1949 when Mao said, “Women hold up half the sky.”

Today, it seems Chinese women do more than hold up half the sky—they control it. I’m talking about Chen Lu Yu, a popular Chinese television talk show host who reaches an audience estimated at more than 140 million in China.

Chen Lu Yu

Chen has been called the “China’s Oprah”. Chinese media officials have censored the topics Lu Yu covers, but, according to Lu Yu, the show has yet to hear from the Chinese censors. She has talked about HIV, lesbians, transsexuals, marriage problems—you name it, and her Chinese audience loves her.

The show is called “A Date with Luyu” and it first aired on January 5, 2002. Chen has also appeared on America’s Oprah.

Discover Powerful Chinese Women

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

His latest novel is the multiple-award winning Running with the Enemy.

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Chinese Cloisonné Vases

March 14, 2010

On our way back from the Great Wall at Mutianyu, we stopped at a factory and showroom where we learned about the manufacturing techniques for Cloisonné brass vases. First, we went on a tour where we watched men and women creating vases. Once the tour was over, we went into the showroom.

The vases I bought (after negotiating a price) are yellow with a blue trim.  One has a blue dragon on it, the second a phoenix beside a chariot, and the third running horses. Each one is about the size of my hand.

The cloisonné process is enamel on copper craftwork. It first appeared in Beijing in the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) and continued during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). Cloisonné vases are crafted by using a copper porcelain process. The vase is made from copper with brass wires soldered to the body. Then a porcelain glaze is applied to cells between the brass wires.

After a series of complex procedures, such as burning, burnishing and gilding, the cloisonné vase is done.

Chinese name: 景泰蓝(jǐng tài lán)

If you are interested in the arts, discover Chinese Yu Opera

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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China’s Modern Women

March 6, 2010

The changing role of Chinese women has been dramatic since Mao won China in 1949. Prior to that time, China was ruled by the Kuomintang—a dictatorship. There were never national elections held in China. There wasn’t much that changed under the Kuomintang leadership regarding the role of women. When my wife was born in the late 1950s, her grandmother had bound feet.

Chinese girl with bound feet

Before Mao, women were grass to be stepped on. Their role was to serve men.

The changes ushered in by Mao set the stage for his wife to become China’s leader after her husband’s death. The only reason she did not assume the leadership was because she was arrested as a member of the Gang of Four and sent to prison for crimes committed during the Cultural Revolution.

Modern Chinese woman

Since Mao, the changes have been even more dramatic.  Woman own businesses, hold political posts in the government, have jobs, and cannot be sold to become a wife or bought to serve as a concubine. They are not property. They are equals to men in many ways.

Learn about Marriage and Money in China.

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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China’s Fast Track Growth

February 13, 2010

Here’s more evidence that Robert Hart and Jack London were right when they predicted that China would be a super power again. These two Western men spent time in China, got to know the culture and realized the potential of the Chinese people.

Bullet trains, something the United States doesn’t have due to the national debt and partisanship between political parties more interested in who packs the pork barrel than running the country efficiently, have raced into China providing jobs for hundreds of thousands of Chinese and a faster, fuel efficient way to get around.

With the Lunar New Year and more Chinese traveling home than the population of Russia, another, fast, energy efficient means of public transportation was needed.  When the economy collapsed under President George W. Bush due to real estate, banks and Wall Street greed, the Democrats and Republican’s started pointing fingers at each other and throwing more debt around.

In China, where debt does not rule and the savings rate is 40%, instead of arguing and tossing blame about, the Chinese started working. Is this evidence that one political party is more efficient than two?

My thanks to Ian Carter for bringing the Chinese bullet trains to my attention–visit his Blog to “see” more of China, or discover why China is Studying Singapore

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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The First of all Virtues – Part 4/9

January 31, 2010

I am sixty-four. I served in the United States Marines and fought in Vietnam. For more than four decades, I have lived with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).

I spent close to a decade attending universities to first earn an Associate-of-Science degree and next a BA in journalism. The remainder of those ten odd years was spent at night in a variety of universities earning an MFA in writing. I spent my weekdays working as an English teacher. For a few years, I even taught journalism working some days from six in the morning until midnight.

I also held a number of odd jobs like being a maitre d’ for a Southern California nightclub called the Red Onion or as a supervisor for Pacific Motor Trucking. I worked for forty-five years starting at fifteen washing dishes nights and ended a thirty-year career at sixty as an overworked and underpaid, ‘often verbally abused’ teacher in California’s public schools.

Strange, I searched for a Blog that talked about teachers being abused by students and found thousands that did nothing but bash teachers. Then I found Who’s to Blame …  (a dim light in the wilderness). It seems that few in Western cultures care what happens to teachers. We are the one to bask or kick when you want to bash or kick something.

Go to The First of All Virtues Part 5 or return to Part 3

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. 

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