“Though my son told me to give my grandsons away for others to raise, I was going to raise them all by myself,” said Hsieh Chiu-jung (謝秋絨), a one-armed grandmother to three grandchildren.
Residing in Changhua County’s Pitou Township (埤頭), the 64-year-old Hsieh lost her right arm in a workplace accident when she was 47, and though it took some time for her to adjust, she soon grew adept with the use of her left hand, almost as if she had been a lefty from birth.
“[You] deal with whatever problem you meet with,” Hsieh said.
However, the loss of her arm was not the only problem facing Hsieh.
A decade ago, her eldest son died after falling ill, and even though Hsieh was heavily burdened from debt accumulated from her son’s medical bills, her daughter-in-law took the house mortgage funds and left, abandoning her three children.
To avoid the bank foreclosing on his parents’ home, Hsieh’s second son took up the heavy burden of paying off the mortgage.
Her two daughters, however, were unable to take care of their mother because one only worked part-time and the other was a disabled single mother.
The family depended on her 72 year-old husband’s factory job for its income.
To diminish the burden on her husband, Hsieh raised chickens and planted vegetables when she had moments free from taking care of her grandchildren, saving money on meat, eggs and vegetables.
The grandchildren were also wise beyond their years, asking to learn how to cook and wash their clothes from a young age to take some of the burden from Hsieh, even cooking congee for her when Hsieh came down with a cold and fever, she said.
They even called home from the public payphone from school and asked their grandfather if Hsieh was feeling better.
Hsieh did not spoil her grandchildren.
Once when one of her grandchildren went out cycling with a friend and came home late, Hsieh told him with tears running down her face to tell her in advance if he was going to come home late.
Her grandchild wiped her face dry and imposed upon himself the punishment of standing and facing the wall, saying that he would not do it again.
Hsieh said that when she lost her right hand, her son and daughters were not yet married or employed, and she told herself that she had to persevere no matter what because she still had her left arm, adding that when she lost her eldest son, she knew that she had to toughen up because she still had three grandchildren to raise.
Hsieh’s eldest granddaughter, currently studying hairdressing, immediately started to wash Hsieh’s hair for her when she learned how to do so.
Her second granddaughter said she wanted to become a nurse and take care of her grandmother forever, and her 14-year-old grandson said he wanted to grow up and make lots of money to give to Hsieh.
“It’s all worth it,” Hsieh said when she heard those sentiments from her grandchildren.
Translated by Jake Chung, Staff Writer