How I Met My Mother (At A Dumpster She Said)

In one Spanish class, our teacher Alejandra posed a question: How did you meet that someone important in your life? For those who have kids at home, you must have been bombarded by soul searching questions like this.  What a way to relive your childhood.  As for me, attending a Spanish class is as close to reflecting on my childhood education as I can get.

My mother often said: I found you in a dumpster. Looking back, that must be one of the most profound things I have come across at that very young age of mine.  A simple statement that encapsulates so many concepts.  I found you in a dumpster creates a disassociation, a resignation, and a diversion to the million possible emotions that went through my mother’s head when I was hopelessly naughty, when life seemed unbearable.  Often, I saw my mother silently staring out of the window in tears for hours.  And all I could say was I am sorry.  I guess back then it was hard for my mother to explain to her son how disappointed she was, how heartbroken she was.  Hence, I found you in a dumpster is a good proxy to sum up all her emotions.

Besides, I as a small kid would probably understand that statement better than her trying to tell me what she was going through.  Looking back, I guess it was also her way to teach me the notion of a two-way love.  Not just from her to me, but also I to her.  When I first conceptualized I found you in a dumpster, I thought it was a cool thing.  Monkey God (from a Chinese legend) came from a piece of worthless stone.  And I, from a dumpster.  But thinking deeper, I realized that the conveyed message was: You are not like me and hence you are not my son. Even as a very small kid, that blew.

I cannot recall how exactly my thinking process went.  I suppose my optimism has imbued in me since young.  All of a sudden, I have a mission in life.  I vowed to prove to my mother that I am indeed her son and I am going to make her proud.  What a long journey that became.  Over the years, my mother has subtly taught me that love is a two-way highway.  I too have to reach out to her.

Now that I am older and a little bit wiser, I am more and more convinced that she could well be saying I found you in a dumpster to herself, especially when the going got rough.  A reminder of how close she was to lose me in a hospital when the doctors and nurses informed her that my chance of survival was slim.  And that it turned out to be a blessing for her even if she has to accept me in whatever condition I was, so long as I live.  In another word, I was indeed lost and found, not in the most glamorous way.

I am not as articulated in Spanish.  The Spanish version of the story is as follows.  Thanks to Alejandra who corrected my grammar.  I think the Spanish tenses are intense.

La persona más importante en mi vida es mi madre.  Sin ella, yo no existo.  Sé que parece una tontería.  Cuando era joven, mi madre me decía de dónde venía, sobre todo cuando estaba enfadada conmigo.  Ella me decía que me encontró en el contenedor de la basura.   Cada vez que era travieso, me contaba la misma historia.   En el fondo, sé que ella me ama.  La metáfora de que me encontró en un contenedor de basura puede ser cruda.  Pero es un recuerdo constante del dolor que perdura para hacerme lo que soy hoy.

This entry has prompted me to work on a set of photos taken in my 2009 trip to Hong Kong.  My parents, Cynthia, and I have visited this garden.  If I remember correctly, the fossil stones and trees come from China.  My dad used to visit the garden often and he knows where the good spots are for photo taking.  Unfortunately, my photography skill was inadequate (I just bought my dSLR).  And I wish I had the white balancing card with me.  Nevertheless, for memory’s sake, below is a set of photos of the garden.

And another set for my family.

6 responses to “How I Met My Mother (At A Dumpster She Said)”

  1. También me encanta tu versión en inglés, Wilfrid. Tu madre debe de estar tan orgullosa de ti… Tus palabras transmiten mucho amor.
    Me gusta especialmente porque, para mí, la persona más importante de mi vida también es mi madre 🙂
    Tenemos mucha suerte de tenerlas, ¿verdad?
    Un abrazo.

    • Alejandra – Sí, sí. Tenemos mucha surte de tenerlas. Cynthia se sorprendió cuando leyó esto. Ella dijo que su madre nunca diría eso. Jajaja.

      Me gusta hacer tus deberes. ¡Mantenga venir! (is this the same as “keep them coming”?!)

  2. I often tell my brother he was picked up from the dustbin (dumpster I meant) when he was younger because he is the only person in the family with freckles.

    Great post!

    And I am going to HK at the end of the year!
    I am so excited because I LOVE HK!

    • G – And then one day your brother would wite a blog called: How I Met My Sister (At A Dustbin She Said). Hehehe.

      Oh, you are going to Hong Kong later this year? This is fantastic. The weather is good. You can do some shopping too! Quite a few shopping malls are built lately, I think.

      Your boyfriend coming with you?

  3. Beautiful, beautiful pictures of the garden and your family. I am sure your mom said that as a jest, why would you take it so seriously?

    I told that to my younger brother too. “Mom found you at the dumpster” in our Penang Hokkien dumpster is called “Sampah Tang!” With a boost at the “Tang!” His reaction was to giggle at my words.

    Glad you turn out brilliant. Even if you were found near the dumpster, any parents would have gladly claim you as their own. 😉

    • JoV – Why? Hmmm. It is one of those things that I have so often that it has become one of the top 5 things I remember of my childhood? Hehehe. I was used to get it everything I pissed my mother off.

      Wow … you said that to your younger bro? I would be very amused if one day he wrote in his blog “And So My Sister Said I Was Found At The Dumpster (And She Was Not)”.

      I think I turned out OK. Still a pain in the $%# to people around me … lol.

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