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Moying Li’s relationship with Lao Lao was extremely important to her. Like my brother and I, they shared a special connection. Lao Lao was in her mid-forties when Moying Li came into her life. From the moment she could walk, she was attached to Lao Lao’s side. When Lao Lao was seventy years old, Moying Li left for the United States for advanced education. She held on to Lao Lao’s delicate arm until she was unable to hold on any longer, just as she had done all her life. Moying Li feels, "Age had been kind to her, even though life had not" (162).

Lao Lao’s mother died from pneumonia, not long after she was born. At age nine, it was time for Lao Lao’s father to remarry and her new mother was not very fond of Lao Lao and was jealous of her close relationship with her father. The stepmother became resentful of Lao Lao’s presence. Later in her life, Lao Lao was arranged to be married and moved in with her groom and his family, being all complete strangers to her. Moying Li explained, “…Lao Lao took to her daily chores with her head down and her mouth shut. After all this was how things had been done for thousands of years” (29). Lao Lao also had to face being married to a man who did not love her back and she soon discovered that he had been sneaking off with his former sweetheart. Although Lao Lao was faced with many struggles throughout her life, she grew to be a well-known respected person. She had a good father; he wanted his daughter to be educated whereas most daughters learned to sew, cook, and house-keep. Many people were illiterate in those days. Lao Lao’s education paid off when in the early 1950s, the new government tried to recruit those who could lend a hand as volunteer teachers, and Lao Lao extended hers. Moying Li stated, “For the first time in her life, Lao Lao felt respected. Her education had become an asset at last” (40). Another difference between Moying Li’s generation and Lao Lao’s, was that during Lao Lao’s time it was custom for girls to have their feet bound. It was more desirable for girls to have smaller feet, and this was considered by one’s future husband. Lao Lao was not like many other grandmas. She did not have bound feet, and she was lucky enough to be able to read and write. Lao Lao may have had a struggled life, but that shaped her into the respected and caring person that she came to be.


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Lao Lao in front of her house
Lao Lao in front of her house