It’s no secret among my friends. My family is crazy. But to their credibility, as far as families go, they are also pretty amazing. I’ve been told more than once by friends that between my dad’s incredible knack for cooking and my mom’s incessant need to be prepared, it’s my house they’re heading to in the event of a nuclear crisis. And I’ve always known there isn’t anything my parents wouldn’t do for me: no mountain they wouldn’t climb, no river they wouldn’t cross. Yet I never fully understood the depth of their love and the inevitable craziness that comes with it – that is, until I moved three hours north of my hometown during my college years.
Scene one: I accidentally drowned my computer keyboard. At the time, I had no mode of transport to get to the mall to purchase a new one and all the other freshmen needed their keyboards to type their essays. Plus, library computers were booked solid in the midst of midterm week. So the only logical solution was for my mom to drive up after work and drop off an extra keyboard we had lying around the house. I thought, “That’ll be good. Maybe we can get some food together.”
I was waiting on a bench outside my dorm as she pulled up.
She got out of the car, handed me the keyboard, and said, “Okay. I gotta head back.”
“Oh, okay, uh … Do you want to use the bathroom first?”
“Nope, I don’t have time. I gotta head back. I have to go to work tomorrow.”
And off she went.
She drove from Orangeburg, New York to Saratoga Springs and back – a total of six hours and 326 miles – to give me a keyboard and a kiss on the cheek.
Scene two: Fast forward to senior year. After taking my good ol’ 1990 Toyota (may she rest in peace) out for a spin to the grocery store, I skidded from one side of the street to the other, right smack into the curb – at 5 miles per hour. Something wasn’t right, and the snow on the asphalt wasn’t the problem. Three hours later, my parents were at my doorstep with their cherry red station wagon.
“I’ll be damned. Your tires are bald. I forgot to put the winter tires on.”
After muttering to himself, Dad jacked up the car and switched the tires – giving me new winter tires and putting the bald ones on their station wagon.
“Wait,” I realized. “You’re driving home with bald tires?”
“Yeah, Mom and I will be fine. Kara, I’ve been driving for over 30 years. I can do it, but you can’t drive with ’em.”
They drove three hours back to Orangeburg with bald tires through snow-covered roads. Here was another display of their selfless nature as parents. At least this time, I convinced them to use the bathroom before leaving.
Since then, I have drifted from 163 miles away to 11,776 miles across the sea, and I have learned that distance does little to dissolve the love (or zaniness) of your parents. If anything, the more obstacles you throw at it, the stronger – and more forgiving – these relationships become. There is nothing like moving to China to test your parents’ goodwill. It is with this sentiment I present this month’s feature: six stories of incredible families from around the globe, here to stick it out in Beijing.
As for my devoted parents, Joyce and Perry, I dedicate my first editor’s note to you. And should you want to take a 13-hour flight to help me change the tires on my Beijing bicycle, I won’t stand in your way. But I will insist you stay for dinner.