Xiao Yi 吕友棠

Lü (or Lv, Lyu) Youtang (1936 Beijing – )

OBGY, Medical College of Railroad 铁路医学院

Xiaoyi 小姨 is my Mom’s younger sister. Family members called her Mao Si 毛四 only because Mom was 毛三. An OB/GY by training but she much prefers doing house chords; even while working at the hospital, she chose to hand out aspirin than deliver babies. Her husband Zhang Kai was a popular heart surgeon who eventually ran the hospital, so she got away with it.

With Xiao Yi at Canzheng Hutong, Dec 23, 1984

She liked calling me hunagmao yatou 黄毛丫头 – a chit of a girl. Reportedly she and Mom was very close but we aren’t. After graduation she was sent to Hohhot (Inner Mongolia) and spent good 10+ years there before moving back to Shijiazhuang. Now they both retired in Beijing, living near Taoranting Park 陶然亭公园.

1950-circa-misha.JPGMisha in Kunming Hu/Lake 昆明湖 at the Summer Palace, circa 1950

Xiaoyi’s love life has been rough. After she and Misha were an item briefly, they parted way after she went to medical school.  Then she met a naval engineer who’s father died during the Long March. It’s a big deal in the eyes of Chairman Mao, so he knighted everyone who staggered that 25,000 kilometers with him – making them a privileged class in new classless China.  But by new rules and standards, his impeccable revolutionary credentials contrast sharply with ours which was raddled with holes and question marks. Despite all of those, they believed love conquers all and applied for marriage license nine times, all got denied due to our family background.  It was very heart breaking. After graduation, she was sent to Hohhot where she met Zhang Kai 张凯, the man I know as Xiaoyifu 小姨父, a handsome Muslin heart surgeon. Being exiled in the Inner Mongolia, they escaped the tumultuous 10-year Cultural Revolution totally unscattered.

1966-chunjie-lunar-new-year.JPGWith Xiaoyi and Xiaoyi Fu on Chinese New Year in 1966 at Qianbaihu Hutong

Yeye would often joke about his son-in-laws and daughter-in-law’s backgrounds in his usual humor that he married into a warlord, a Muslin and a cabbie..

For some reason, Xiaoyi doesn’t like children.  I could feel it when I was little, and was confirmed by my children last time (2003) we were in Beijing.  However my kids loved Xiaoyifu.  They couldn’t really communicate but he got low and played with them, on his butt and on his knees. It’s rather unfortunate that they don’t have children. Don’s dad was a great father too, often played piggy baggie with us, among other things.

Xiaoyi and I at Qianbaihu Hutong 前百户胡同 June 25, 1961

Xiaoyi and I had this long running argument over parental responsibility. In her view, I’m in debt to my father. In mine it’s his duty to provide me because that’s what parents do, because they decided to have me. More than quarter of century later and a mother myself now, I still held this view firmly. Although I didn’t look for support but here is an echo.

There shouldn’t be any fine print. Her view had stunned me because of the long battle she waged against her father, my Yeye over his neglect (Yeye was devoted to his last concubine Nainai .. therefore, when Yeye was old and in need of support, she gave nothing .. he was supported by his two younger sisters Lucy and Lily). How could an sane adult demanded her father’s responsibility while lecturing me about my in debt to my father? It sounded hypocritical to me.

A lunch with four doctors, 2003 Beijing
北京女八中学 in 1955, 现名北京鲁迅中学; high school
北京师大二附小 幼儿园 kindergarten

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