Vol. 10


An Independent Woman

c. 1951; Taipei, Taiwan

It was just an ordinary day in the life of my grandmother Lily Tsai. She didn’t really go through what we would call the “teenager phase.” Instead she willingly obeyed her parents and tended to her younger siblings’ needs. She had grown up in a small town in mainland China. Now, living in the large city of Taipei, Taiwan,* she did not have any friends, because she was constantly cooking and cleaning in her busy household, since she was the oldest daughter. Nothing really exciting ever happened to her until one particular day that changed her life forever.

My grandmother woke up at dawn to make breakfast for her entire family. All of her younger siblings raced down the steps to get the delicious food, and she greeted them with a warm, pleasant smile. Shortly afterwards, her parents also came down to eat, but my grandmother was somewhat silent as they appeared. If they asked her anything, she would politely reply, but it had been very awkward ever since her constant pleas to go to high school had been rejected or ignored.

After the kids had gone off to school and her parents off to work, my grandmother was home all day by herself cleaning. It was early afternoon when she decided to take a break from all of the hard labor to go outside for a walk and enjoy the fresh air. As she strolled down the sidewalk, she noticed a newspaper on her neighbor’s front lawn that read, “Help Wanted in the Hospitals.” At first sight, my grandmother knew that this was her one, and possibly only, chance to get out of the environment that was holding her back from living her life. The only reason she hesitated in making this decision was that she would need to confront her parents.

Later that afternoon my grandmother’s parents came home. My grandmother had been practicing her speech for hours. When she told her parents about this great opportunity, they were not at all thrilled. They told her they wouldn’t support her in this decision and that they still wanted her to be the housemaid, but my grandmother said, “No.” She didn’t care. She couldn’t take it anymore. She had to start living her own life the way that she wanted to. She stomped up the stairs with tears flooding her eyes and packed up several belongings in her suitcase and walked right out the front door.

That experience taught my grandmother a lot about how life worked. She learned that no one should ever have control over your life and the way you want to live it. You have to stand up for yourself if they do. She now knows the importance of following your dreams, because you never know what might happen. After that event, my grandmother’s life all went uphill. She became a successful nurse and, for the first time ever, was happy.

Caroline Gaughan; Missouri, USA


* Taiwan is an island off the southeast coast of China. It was once a province of China, but it has been a separate, non-Communist country since 1949.


This copyrighted story may be copied for limited classroom use or reprinted in an article about The Grannie Annie.


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