Zhang Xiaowen

Ginling College

Everyone’s life is a story in which we can see true experience and feelings. When my grandma told me about her story, she mentioned her home. It meant different things to her as time went and situations changed. She said that it took her whole life to discover and understand the meanings of home. It was her lifelong task and always affected her life.

She started the story from the period when she was still a young girl. She was born as the oldest child of a poor family and had to take care of her little brother and sisters for her parents were striving to make a living during those tough years. This much sounded like the life that many traditional Chinese young girls in poor families would always live and according to the fixed pattern of story, they probably would drop out of school and be fully devoted to their families. This was partly true when it happened to my grandma. She did quit study at early age because of the hard situation. However, she really loved reading and kept this hobby in daily life to improve herself. She never let the burden of home be a barrier to what was ahead. Unfortunately, she lost her youngest sister by accident and experienced intense sorrow. Thus, she cherished her family members and deeply realized the importance of home. To her, home was the integrity of family and to grow up together with her brothers and sisters.

Grandma wanted to be different even though she accepted the traditional marriage and constructed a new family with the man chosen by her parents. Since then, she began to have another home in her life. She didn’t fall in love with him then and just thought that maybe home meant that two people live together even forever in spite of no romantic relations between them. She dealt with routine housework and at the same time helped with her husband’s work. It made her feel bound to stay at home and do nothing outside home. Therefore, she tried various jobs no matter how difficult they were and even planned to be self-employed. She once became a farmer, a cleaner, a babysitter, a salesperson and afterwards ran a noodle restaurant by herself. They both worked hard and achieved their own success. During this period, grandma held the view that home was two people fighting for one common goal and collective creation of a better life.

As she grew older, she became a mother of two children. The family got larger and she needed to spend more time and energy to attend to them. Her brother and sisters also gradually had their own families, which brought great changes to the former home she lived in. That was still her home whenever she wanted to return. There was a wish for the home where parents were all good and regular reunion took place. In her eyes, the distinctions between homes lay in different people and different feelings and memories. She loved to enjoy the moment when the whole huge family gathered in one place, because only this time could show the home they owned directly and completely. Back then, home meant having more and more beloved people, which were the reason for her hard work.

Wearing a peaceful smile, she told me the end of the story. She is now in her seventies and living a happy life with grandpa. But many things have changed, all except this small house which once witnessed their past life. At present, home is a place that contains all of her memories and where the rest of her life will belong. When someone is old, it’s easy to become more attached to home, especially for her. What she wants now is to finish her life with people she loves and without any regrets.

And in these peaceful years, she still conducts simple work such as gardening. She is always a person unwilling to fiddle about all day and tries her best to make herself feel fulfilled. Grandma keeps perfecting her life as she strives for home and learns about its meanings. She never yields to the pressures arising from home, instead, she transforms them to be potential motives to pursue her values. To some extent, home exists as a witness of her whole life. Just like what my grandma said, this story will be sure to have a good ending.