I was once married to a Chinese man. He and his family were able to escape before the Revolution and they eventually made their way to the United States. Until they succeeded in doing that, he lost two young brothers who died because they had been eating rotten garbage, having tired of eating soup made from boiling rocks.
While in Hong Kong, waiting to come to the US, the entire family made export items and grew their sprouted soy beans in the kitchen for sustenance.
Once in the States, my partner landed a union job delivering newspapers. He supported everyone! He never finished more than grade school. His English was, in my opinion, abominable. But, his kind heart won everyone over. Actually, everyone wondered how such a wonderful man married such a 'bitch'.
In fact, he was quite good at manipulating people and I would be his silent observer, never letting on to his maneuverings. No one ever guessed what he was doing, and I never gave him away. It was fun, and funny.
He impressed me. He taught me so much. I still think of him often. After we separated, I believe he was one of the fallen in 9/11.
One of the lasting images of him was when he would go faithfully every year to the visiting Chinese opera. People were allowed to take photos, which he shared with me. I never went to the performances. He also told me lots of favorite and revered folk stories. Here was this man, an uneducated laborer, who had culture! He was not a drinker, or wife beater. He treated everyone well. Shared whatever he had. He was modest and kind.
When I think of laborers in the US, I never find anyone who even compares.
Writing and art are my passions!