Love is Giving

Wei Tao Bethune (+Video)


I made use of the quiet Christmas we had because of Omicron to clean up our home. In a corner of one room was a small dusty suitcase. Inside it, I found some baby clothes and a pair of small pink baby shoes that my mother had given me when I got married sixteen years ago. I never thought that I would have a baby. But thirteen years later, when I was nearly fifty, I had my miracle child. 

Looking at these dusty pink shoes, I burst into tears. My mother died on March 22, 2020. China was in lockdown. My family hid the news because I had just given birth to my son. Then on May 10, Mother’s Day, I called home and expected my mother to answer, but it was my father who answered. He told me of my mother’s death. 

I was in so much pain that it took me a long time to recover. I searched for the cause of my beloved mother’s death. I asked the doctor about her medical history. She had cancer and died of a cerebral infarction. I was surprised. And then I found out my sister had cancer last year, and my brother also had cancer a few years ago. They never told me. Both of them are under fifty and loved sports and exercise. They were very healthy. I began to think there must be something else going on.

Shenyang, my hometown, is the most well-known heavy industry city in China. Industrial waste gas, waste water, and debris have polluted the air, soil and groundwater for many years. Recently, the city has tried to clean up and protect the environment, but the soil and groundwater are already too contaminated, and there are no immediate solutions for that. Some people in my hometown are suffering from chronic diseases. Many families have members who are cancer patients. Many people spend the last years of their lives in chemotherapy and radiotherapy. 

When I got married, my parents came to Toronto. My mother told me that it had been so long since she got the chance to breathe fresh air and see clear water. A medical doctor herself, she paid attention to the food she ate and used her medical knowledge to protect the health of our family, but even she did not escape the fate of cancer.

After I gave birth to my son, my mother and I had more frequent conversations. We loved FaceTime. Every time we spoke, I would hold my son up and show him to her. She really wanted to visit her grandson and hug him. I wanted to share his growing process with her. I lost my mother on my first Mother’s Day. My son will never get her hug.  

Since my husband and I got married sixteen years ago, every spring, we’ve been going to a tree-planting event in Cedarvale Park near our home. We didn’t think we could have a child, so we adopted and gave love to thirteen saplings planted around the children’s wading pool. We loosen the soil, weed and water the trees, fertilize them in spring, and protect them in winter. We have taken good care of them as if they were our own kids. These saplings have grown into big trees. In the summer, children enjoy their shade.

My hometown is my root, and family is the most precious thing in my heart. My mother taught me a lot. Her death is a warning to me that we must face up to the problem of environmental pollution everywhere. We must contribute to the survival of the planet, maintain the green mountains, clear rivers, blue sky and white clouds. We need to leave our future generations a pollution-free natural environment so that they can grow up healthy and have a happy life. We need to do this now. This is love, and we have to give this love to all our miracle babies.

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