Seeing Through The Lens Of Another

My husband’s second cousin came to visit us from Wuhan, China. She secured her visa and flew into O’Hare airport last week. It has been delightful to meet Ying Ying and see things through her eyes. It’s been interesting for me to answer her questions as she compares her life in China to mine here in the States. Ying Ying speaks English well and I get a kick out of when she really agrees or wants something, she simply uses one word emphatically, “YES!”  She enlightened me about my own surroundings, family, friendships and marriage. Here is a bit of our few days and weekend endeavors:

Some of the things that she wanted to see and do were not exciting really. She told me right away, “I just want to visit you and Michael and see your life and the regular things you do.”

She arrived and we headed to the Willis (SEARS) Tower for a bit of sight seeing. She loved it and paid a boat load for their tourist photographs as a treasured memory. She couldn’t be dissuaded.










While she was still in China, I told her via a FaceTime conversation, “Ying Ying as soon as you arrive I have to leave to travel to Iowa for a bridal shower for my nephew’s fiancé. I don’t want to leave you here by yourself. Would you like to come along?” (I explained a bit about the American tradition to SHOWER the bride before her wedding day.)

“Oh, yes I have heard of that. I would love to go to American bridal shower with you! I would like that very much.” She smiled and nodded excitedly. So that is what I planned even though I knew she might be dealing with jet lag. I wanted her to meet my sisters and my parents, visit an Iowa farm and experience a bridal shower too.

As we passed the outlet mall on our way to Iowa, we stopped quickly. She had expressed interest in getting some gifts to take back to China with her. We spent so much time in the chocolate shop. I didn’t mind, we got free samples of truffles! It was fun to see her make her decisions, compare prices and assert herself with the sales clerk.

She bought so many things I hope she will be able to take everything with her on her return trip back to China. The two bags were full and heavy. Ying Ying was giddy with excitement and even found some special chocolates for her daughter’s kindergarten classmates.

“Oh, I’d like to buy some more of these please. She counted them out as the salesman waited while she made her final selections for gifts to bring back to China. I had fun watching her generosity and excitement. I watched her compare prices on the web. She was delighted by her deals. Standing in the outlet with her gave me a new vision for things we may take for granted here.


“Auntie Rachel, let’s get a photo where we see the face of that man making the Lindt Chocolates please? I’d like it better to have his face in the photo.”
“Okay, sure! That would be good.” I concurred.



I had to reign her in a bit at another store. “We need to get moving Ying Ying, in order to make our over five-hour drive and still help with the preparations for the shower.”

“Oh, okay I’d like to help you.” she agreed.

I had the trip planned, but I did NOT plan the warning light on the dashboard of my car. Nonetheless it did, so I stopped and tried to figure things out at the gas station. I couldn’t even open the hood of my car, even though I have done it before.  I laughed at myself. She opened the glove box and we read up on the warning light that had illuminated.

Ying Ying looked at me and asked, “Does Uncle usually take care of the car issues for you?”

“Oh, yeah! I am blessed and pretty pampered when it comes to the way he cares for me.” I answered.

She said, “I can tell he really loves you. You know. I can tell you love each other. He told you today when we left your house he would miss you and I could tell you will miss him too. You both hugged each other and say kind things.”

I was a bit puzzled. I thought, Yes of course I will miss him and he will miss me while we are apart. (Ying Ying elaborated more about some marriages in China and her observations of them over the years and the isolation that happens over time.)

I called the local Volkswagen dealer. I was delighted to find out we could get my car looked at in just moments. While at the dealership she was so impressed with people’s kindness I received and the warm welcome everyone gave us.

“I think people are happy in their work here in America.” She commented.

I had some work done on my car but I’m not sure she even remembered it. Jet lag kicked in and she slept during most of the time.




She was Zonked! I texted my husband during my car dilemma and he advised me and enjoyed the photos I sent as we went about our day. We were back in the car and ready to head down the highway for the last three hours of our journey to my sister’s farmhouse. I wondered if she needed anything.

“No, I’m full from lunch and I don’t need to use the bathroom.” She assured me.

We were off! And a moment later she was OUT.


She was delighted to meet my sisters and parents and it was sweet to have her chat with women at the shower too. She was taking TONS of photos and sending them back to China. Ying Ying had a selfie stick that responded to a voice command to snap the photo. We heard her over and over say “Ceeensaw!” And the shutter would snap.

I took a few photos of the shower too.















We had a great time together and were invited out for dinner by my parents and we had, wait for it… Chinese food. Ying Ying thought her food was delicious and especially liked how kind the chef was. We met him during our dinner. He is a friend of my parents and they frequent his restaurant often.

As we finished our meal, we all thanked my father for the wonderfully fiiling and delicious meal. “Thanks Dad!” I said.

“You bet!” he smiled in my direction. “It was fun, always a good time.”

Ying Ying walked into the kitchen, pushed the swinging door open and loudly proclaimed, “Excuse me! I’d like to talk to the chef. I just want to thank him.”

“He’ll come out again in just a minute the waiter assured her.

When he emerged Ying Ying said. “I just want to tell you how happy I am to be in your restaurant and how honored I am to have you care for me. Thank you for the special sauce it is just like I have in China!” She bowed.

I was touched by the way her gratitude was apparent to us all.  I love and adore my parents. Fresh eyes on them and their spirits was a wonderful perceptive. She commented, ” Auntie Rachel, your parents are so kind to me. I feel loved and they listened to me.”

I agreed. I said,” They are the real deal. They truly love and care for people with God’s love and they want the best for everyone.” She smiled and nodded at me and stared into my eyes with her black ones.  Then Ying Ying concurred with her typical emphatic response that I learned to love. She simply said, “YES!”




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