Friday 30 June 2017

We saw this happen, but couldn’t believe our eyes

20 years ago today, Mui stole the show:
Adapted from: The Girl Behind The Face.

It’s June 30th 1997. The eyes of the world are on Hong Kong. It is a sultry night. 156 years of British rule are ending. The territory is being handed back to China. The “Great Chinese Takeaway” Prince Charles calls it in his diaries.
At a few minutes to midnight, Tina and I sit glued to our TV.
Mui has a fever. She sleeps fitfully in her room a few metres away.
CBS news anchor Dan Rather, who Mui likes to watch and calls Uncle Dan, is dressed in khaki fatigues ready for four thousand Chinese soldiers to arrive on Hong Kong soil.
I fill our glasses with champagne.
Prince Charles represents the Queen. He begins to deliver his farewell speech. In minutes Hong Kong will once again belong to China.
The door of Mui’s bedroom opens. She stands bolt upright in the doorway. Eyes stretched wide-open, she looks ahead with the opacity of a blind man’s stare. ‘She’s still asleep,’ Tina whispers. Tina and I remain stock-still. Mui often sleepwalks. We guess it’s best not to wake her.
Bloody from scratching, Mui walks round the settee and squeezes into her favourite spot: in-between Tina and me. She stares vacantly at the television. Tina looks at me, I look at her, we both look down at Mui. We stifle giggles and sniggers. We’re missing Prince Charles’s farewell speech. But we can’t take our eyes off Mui. ‘Should we wake her?’ I whisper. Tina shakes her head.
It’s midnight. The rigmarole is done. The Union Jack is lowered, the communist flag is raised, the PLA rumble into Hong Kong in their thousands.
Mui stands up and sleepwalks back to bed. Only now, of course, her bed’s in China!
With champagne, we toast our daughter and Hong Kong.
Thanks Rog

Friday 9 June 2017

"You are an example to us who are starting this difficult path."

After posting on Facebook about our most recent Family Talk, at J.P. Morgan bank, Deisy, a woman in Peru, shared our page. I thanked her. She replied: "You are an example to us who are starting this difficult path."
Deisy is the young mother of a baby born with Harlequin Ichthyosis.
When our Family Talk was over at J.P. Morgan, Ryan, the Managing Director who invited us to share, said: ‘I shall hug my daughters extra tight tonight.’
And then Ryan made a charitable donation of twenty thousand Hong Kong dollars (HK$20,000) for us to forward to our Ichthyosis charity of choice: F.I.R.S.T. He arranged the J.P. Morgan “testimonial” for our new website, too:
Mui, Tina and Rog,
We had approximately 110 people in the auditorium and joining via telepresence for your Family Talk. Many of those colleagues have reached out to me to express their thanks and say how they had been touched by your family’s story – and the way you tell it. You have faced many painful challenges as a family and your courage to speak of those challenges gave us all tremendous respect for your family’s journey and gratitude for sharing it with us. Thank you for such a moving and thought provoking session. We look forward to staying in touch with the wonderful Thomas Family.
This is our motivation to invest our lives into what we are doing. It’s not easy. Of course it’s not. Deisy understands that. It’s why she wrote. Ryan understands that. It’s why he donated.
During our Family Talk at J.P. Morgan, while sharing memories of life changing moments from her childhood and youth, Tina felt her throat tighten and her heart begin to race. She quickly became overwhelmed by a deep, deep sadness. But she sucked it up and smiled and carried on. ‘I battle my memories with smiles and laughter,’ she says.
Once, at the end of one of our Family Talks, Mui burst into tears when details were revealed about bullying that had taken place in school behind her back. She too has chosen to continue. ‘I'm feeling more and more comfortable now, talking about past experiences,’ she says.
Tina and I admitting we’ve both been diagnosed with PTSD; Mui admitting “attending sessions with a specialist... I have a lot of deeply rooted issues.” in our blog isn’t easy, either. Reactions like those of Deisy and Ryan make it worthwhile.
We met Mui 20 years ago as an act of random kindness to a stranger who wanted to be loved. With so many act of random terror happening around the world, Tina, for her birthday this week asks: ‘Please do one act of random kindness for a stranger.’ It need not be big. A simple smile will do. Who knows, it may even lead to something great. A simple smile and wave was how I came to marry Tina. How great was that!
To help us challenge attitudes to visible differences, cyberbullying and commitment simply “Like” our Facebook page at the top: