Heavenly Made, and Happily Together
“Love is not a word we Chinese people usually talk about openly, instead, we save it until a very big moment. I think that right time to share some stories of my love is here. “
I am sitting in my home. It’s been almost four years since we had the wedding party. My wife Elaine is playing with our daughter, Eva, who is three. I try to convince myself that I’m not the romantic type, but watching these two lovely ladies has taken me down memory lane. I keep feeling thankful for all I have as I watch them, quietly. The best part is I don’t even think they know I am watching.
I lounge back into my chair and close my eyes, and perhaps a minute passes. Then I feel someone tickling my nose.
“Hehehe,” I know that giggle.
I open my eyes and sit up.
“Hehehe.” Whenever Eva laughs, she has the cutest smile too.
She jumps into my lap and lies her head on my chest.
The end, almost. . .
The evening began with me watching her and it ended with her watching me.
I never had the courage to ask her or her mother if they noticed that I had been watching them earlier, but Eva wanted to make sure her daddy didn’t feel left out.
Before I met my wife, I had hoped that when I did meet her, whoever she might be, it would start as a friendship without the need for me to be overly romantic. To this day, I’m still not sure how I am so fortunate because it worked out this way with, what seems to have been, so little planning.
For a man to love his wife and daughter is natural. But for a man to watch how his life has changed for the better because of his family is some a little more special. I believe this because I know that not all of the men I’ve known through the years are as fortunate as me.
When I first met Elaine, the connection happened quickly. I wasn’t looking for a wife at the time, not even a girlfriend, but I couldn’t help feeling that maybe it was my time. After all, from the day we met to the day we knew the friendship was special was less than one week.
One of the most memorable moments during our first week together was when we traveled to Beijing together from a smaller city called Hangzhou. We were on a business trip for work. In all, I was traveling with 12 colleagues. As the train was making its way northbound, an all night trip that took about 12 hours, as I laid restless in my cot, I was startled when a quilt from the bunk above, slipped past me, and landed on the floor. Without thinking, I returned it, not knowing my simple act of kindness would be the birth of a beautiful friendship.
It was dark, so Elaine wasn’t sure who had done this. I didn’t think anything of it at the time, but the next morning she inquired regarding who had helped her. Her level of thankfulness was a little more than what I had expected, for she pealed me an apple for breakfast. I don’t remember the last time a woman who I had just met did such a thing for me, so I took notice.
I always thought she was beautiful, but in China beautiful women are everywhere. Her act of kindness is what got my attention, and the fact that she was very smart also impressed me.
From the time we arrived for training in Beijing to our ride back to Hangzhou, the friendship grew. I was a young man in his early 20’s who wasn’t looking for romance or a wife. But there was something special about her, so I just couldn’t say no. Spending time with her became a priority.
The realization that we were falling in love took hold as the months passed because we went out of our way to meet up. If we were separated by geography, I never hesitated to take a two or three hour bus ride, one way, so I could spend the afternoon with her.
Before we were officially married, however, we experienced a rough spot or two. The one that always makes me smile was when we had had an argument. I had to make it right, and I wanted surprise on my side. After the argument was over, she sent me messages and tried to call me, but I refused to reply. I figured the only way I could pull this off was by pretending to be a bit rude. Although my heart would race each time she sent me a message or tried to call, I stayed with my plan.
When the evening arrived and the moon was shining, I snuck out to her dormitory. I wasn’t even sure if she would answer my call, but she did. That’s when my heart really started to race. Next, I told her to look out of the window at the beautiful sky. She was intrigued by the unusual suggestion enough to honor my plea. As she opened her window and gazed out, I saw her but she didn’t see me. I was hoping she would enjoy the night sky and the glowing moon before I revealed myself. She did. At last, I told her to look down. She did, quickly, but all she noticed was a strange man standing on the ground below, holding a bouquet of flowers. I will never forget the look on her face—her joy. I had pulled off a nice surprise.
After she finished her graduate studies, we both knew what was next. I had been thinking of different ways to arrange the proposal, so we could make our marriage official. But Elaine took the lead. She made the proposal, I accepted, and the next day we stood at the government office in our hometown, smiling for our pictures as they designed our certificate booklet.
Unlike you see in the movies, I never knelt and officially proposed. Neither did she. However, one day I will make it up to her, and then we will laugh about that informal day when she asked me to be her husband.
When our wedding party day arrived, I was more than proud to show off to all my friends and family my wife. To me, that day wasn’t the day she became my wife. Instead, it was her day to be my bride in front of a group of those dearest to us. I kept saying to myself and others “This is my bride.”
I noticed a new excitement in my life within that first year after the wedding. I started leaving work earlier than I had in the past, wanting to get home. Elaine had become pregnant about five months after the wedding party, and I knew I wanted to be there.
Eva’s birth and life have changed me. I can understand why people often describe their experience of watching the birth process as being a miracle. I knew from the day that I met Elaine that she was a nurturer, someone who knew how to tune into the needs of others. Her natural tendency to serve was one of the reasons I was attracted to her. So watching Elaine in her mothering role has been one of the greatest ongoing experiences in my life.
Many people have heard of the One-child policy in China. It has its benefits. One of those is the availability of grandparents. Without asking, both of our parents were happy to help out with child care. We all were there when Eva took her first few steps and when she was able to speak full sentences, both milestones happened within the first two years. At each event, Elaine’s yearning to be home with her daughter grew stronger, so when Eva was two and a half, Elaine made the transition from part-time mom to full-time mom.
Eva is now five. My desire to leave work early and be with my family has never grown old, and knowing Elaine and Eva are together each day, always leaves a smile on my face.
Every now and then, I think of how Elaine kind of proposed to me and how I felt bad that I hadn’t been more romantic on that occasion, so I’ve decided to prepare a surprise. I know I did well with the bouquet of flowers in the moonlight at her dormitory, but I’m going to top that because I love making these memories with her.
Eva has learned to be part of the memory making. Now that she is five, she often expresses her love for us in her own adorable way.
“Eva, who do you love more, mom or dad?”
She always replies quickly, “Both mom and dad.”
My life has turned out beautifully. I married the perfect woman for me and she gave me a healthy, lovely, and smart daughter. I couldn’t have asked for more.