It was a bittersweet moment for the families of Chiu Lu Su-lan (邱盧素蘭) and Huang Chan Mu-dan (黃詹牡丹) when the women — who had both passed away — were honored with mothering awards on Sunday.
Chiu Lu had been nominated as a role model mother for New Taipei City’s (新北市) Sindian District (新店) this year, but passed away in March.
In her absence, the award was collected by her son Chiu Ming-yuan (邱銘源).
Speaking about his mother, Chiu Ming-yuan said: “I hope she is flying free in the sky with the birds that she loved to take pictures of.”
“My mother once said that she had dreamed of becoming a photographer since she was 17 years old, but the concerns of daily life forced her to put her dreams aside and focus on making money for her children’s education,” he added.
Although Chiu Lu had only received an elementary-school education, she did not skimp on providing a good education for her children, Chiu Ming-yuan said, adding that the money spent on graduate school for himself and his two brothers had been earned by his mother washing hair at a salon.
Although her own dream of photographing birds had been put on hold for more than four decades, Chiu Lu was finally able to pursue it on retiring at the age of 60 when she signed up for a photography class at a local community college.
Inspired by her new hobby, Chiu Lu did not find it difficult to find birds to photograph, even though some of the photography equipment was as nearly as tall as she was, her son said.
Chiu Ming-yuan said his mother had been infatuated with birds as they inspired fond memories of her mother, adding that Chiu had said that whenever she saw a bird feeding its young, she was reminded of her own mother.
Chiu Ming-yuan said his father had accompanied his mother on photography trips, adding that his father had even bought a camera and some equipment just so he had something to do.
“However, he soon found out that his wife had a lot more flair for photography than he did,” Chiu Ming-yuan said.
Chiu Ming-yuan said that photography had been the central focus of his mother’s life in her final years, and she had published some of her work as lesson materials and made others into calendars that she sold at charity fundraising events.
“She donated all the proceeds from these sales — about NT$1 million [US$34,100] over seven years — to environmental protection organizations,” Chiu Ming-yuan said, adding that his mother had been sponsored by the Keep Walking fund so she could travel overseas to take photographs.
The Keep Walking fund, operated by Diageo — a UK-based multinational drinks producer — provides tangible resources to people around the world to realize their dreams.
Chiu Ming-yuan said that he had also published a book in honor of his mother’s memory titled Granny and her beloved birds — A tale of dreams and fulfillment (愛鳥阿嬤的追夢人生).
The 75-year-old Huang Chan passed away on Wednesday last week, three days before she was to be recognized as one of the 10 role model mothers in Miaoli County.
Huang Chan was nominated by the Miaoli County’s Association of Compassion for the Visually Impaired for the award.
Huang Chan’s son Huang Tsung-hsien (黃聰賢) said that his mother had been very happy to have been nominated and had even visited the association to confirm the date of the award event.
“We never expected she would pass away from a heart attack before she could receive the award,” Huang said.
Huang said his mother married when she was 17, and had raised seven children.
“She was the epitome of a traditional farming woman, not only taking care of her children but also working in the fields,” Huang Tsung-hsien said, adding that his mother had developed cataracts from a complication caused by diabetes.
Huang Tsung-hsien said the family had tried to reduce the burden on Huang Chan, but she insisted on taking care of her grandsons.
“She said that we should not have to worry about our children and should focus on our work,” Huang Tsung-hsien said, adding that his mother had dedicated her entire life to her family.
Additional reporting by Peng Chien-li