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华裔中青两代人之挑战之二:我为什么要照顾年迈的姥姥
Why I Care About My Grandmother, But Not My Parents

大批漂洋过海到西方国家投靠成年子女的华裔移民老人们日趋遭受子女的冷落和虐待,而他们的不幸遭遇常常都是拜家人所赐,其主要原因为许多华裔移民在融入加拿大社会的同时一味效仿西方的风俗而将中国传统的孝道价值观抛之脑后。《大中报》将从分别以中年移民Miriam和刚从大学毕业的移民二代Kevin为代表的两代华裔的视角对华裔虐老问题进行探讨。
Thousands of immigrant Chinese seniors that make their journey to join their adult children in Western countries are suffering increased levels of neglect and abuse. And it’s often at the hands of their own families—as new Chinese Canadian immigrants adapt to Canadian society, they are foregoing Chinese traditional values of filial piety in favor of Western norms. In a two-part special, Chinese News addresses elder abuse from the perspective of two different generations—Miriam, a new Chinese Canadian immigrant, and Kevin, a second generation recent grad. 

今年,我的姥姥已经步入84岁高龄。姥姥是一位非常杰出的女性,不仅是名作家、京剧演唱家和历史学家,同时也是一位非常好的厨师。在我看来,姥姥高超的厨艺无人能及。她在加拿大已经生活了十五年之久,和大多数中国老人一样,她认为给我们家帮把手是其应尽的义务。当年姥姥送我上学,为我送午餐,帮我缝补衣服不知帮我做了多少事,而凡此种种的场景我至今仍历历在目。目前,她仍然和我父母、我妹妹还有我生活在一起。

This year, my grandmother turns 84 years old. She an extraordinary woman—she’s a writer, a Beijing Opera singer, a historian, and of course, a remarkable chef. Nothing is quite like grandma’s cooking. She came to this country more than a decade and a half ago. Like most Chinese seniors, she felt a responsibility to help support our family. I remember my grandmother taking me to school, dropping off lunches, sewing my clothes—you name it. She continues to live with my parents, my sister, and myself today. 

 
但是,随着姥姥岁数越来越大,她在生活中也面临越来越多的困难与不便。她觉得加拿大严寒的冬季尤其难熬。此外,她行走不便,很少外出,她不会说英语,并且有慢性胃痛的毛病。

But as she’s gotten older, life has become more difficult for her. She finds that the cold winter in Canada is particularly harsh. She also has difficulty with walking and has little mobility, cannot speak English, and has chronic stomach pain. 


今天我已经21岁,我妹妹也已经18岁,我们都不再依赖姥姥的照顾。但是,在华人家庭中长大的我一直被教导孝道至关重要,我从小就知道长大后照顾姥姥是我应尽的义务。因此,我愿意花大量时间教姥姥用电脑,每周开车送她去唱京戏,在周末带她出去郊游。在姥姥抱怨身体不舒服时,我妹妹和我都会尽力照顾她,因为她在我们小时候曾给了我们那么多关爱,我们要报答她的恩情。

I’m now 21 and my sister is 18, and we are no longer dependent on my grandmother’s care. Growing up in a Chinese household, I was always told that filial piety is of upmost importance; it would be my obligation to care for my grandmother as I got older. And so I have—I’ve spent countless hours teaching her to use the computer, driving her to weekly opera sessions, and taking her out on the weekends. When my grandmother complains that she’s in discomfort, both my sister and I try our best to care for her. We reciprocate the care she gave us when we were young.


但实际上,我对姥姥尽孝并不是缘于我所接受的华人家庭教育及其所灌输的孝道文化,而只是因为在我看来是我应该做的。年迈的姥姥状态不佳,常常叨唠宁愿回到北京生活,但是她在北京所居住的公寓是在五楼,并且没有电梯。因此,我们都在竭力打消她的顾虑,用实际行动向她证明我们非常欢迎她在加拿大和我们全家一起生活。

But my responsibilities to my grandmother are not because of my Chinese upbringing and filial piety; it’s simply the right thing to do. My grandmother is vulnerable. I hear her often remark that she would rather return to her home in Beijing. But her Beijing flat, which lacks an elevator, is located in an apartment on the fifth floor.  We try to reassure her that she is more than welcome to live with us in Canada.


虽然我会毫不犹豫地同意和姥姥生活在一起,对结婚后和父母住在一起的想法不屑一顾。最近,我妈妈曾问我今后是否能与我同住,我直言不讳地告诉她我绝对不会和父母住在一起。我的回答显然出乎她的意料,令她困惑不解。尽管我的父母已经在加拿大生活了25年,但他们仍和大多数移民父母一样被背负在身上的中国文化包袱深深束缚,认为子女有义务为他们养老送终。

Although I would not hesitate to live with my grandmother, I shudder at the thought of living with my parents after I get married. Recently, my mother asked about living with me in the future. I told her bluntly I would never live with my parents. My response surprised and confused her. Even though my parents have been living in Canada for the past 25 years, as with most immigrant parents, they still cling onto Chinese cultural baggage, and believe that their children are obligated to provide for them in the future. 

当然,如果我的父母生了病,我肯定会去照顾他们。但是父母指望我今后和他们生活在一起显然是不合理的期望。尽管我是华裔血统,但北美价值观对我人生的影响更为深远。与中国文化形成鲜明对比的是,西方文化注重个人主义胜过集体主义,在加拿大鲜有父母与成婚子女同住的先例。实际上,加拿大法律对“直系亲属”所作的一些解释甚至都不包括父母。

Of course, if my parents were to ever become ill, I would definitely be there for them. But it is unreasonable for my parents to expect me to live with them in the future. Despite my Chinese heritage, North American values have played a far greater influence on my life. As opposed to Chinese culture, it is rare for Canadian parents to live with their children after marriage; individualism trumps collectivism. In fact, some interpretations of ‘immediate family’ in Canadian law does not even include parents. 


作为在北美长大的我受加国文化熏陶和影响更深,而我的家庭责任观念也主要源自加拿大的风俗。事实上,我的父母与我的祖父母是截然不同的两代人,我父母都是熟练掌握英语和国语的专业人士,并且在经济上高枕无忧。毕竟,我的父母属于迄今北美最成功的一代人——婴儿潮一代,而我妈妈也绝不可能像我姥姥那样脆弱需要依靠。虽然我会出于道德义务照顾我姥姥,但我父母完全可以独立生活并照顾好自己。就我们这些华裔移民二代人来说,我们的父母不可能需要我赡养他们。

Growing up in Canada, I have been more influenced by the North American culture and my concept of family and duty largely stems from that of Canadian norms. The truth is that my parents come from a very different generation from my grandparents—both my parents are professionals, are fluent in both English and Mandarin, and enjoy financial security. After all, my parents are Baby Boomers, which is the most successful generation—ever in North America. My mother will never be as vulnerable as my grandmother. While it is my moral obligation to help my grandmother, my parents can more than be independent and take care of themselves. Along with most of my peers who are second generation Chinese Canadians, my parents will almost never need me to provide for them.

 

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