快捷搜索: 诚信  善良  中国  纽约时报  自信  诚实 

她曾经是我父母婚姻的第三者

From ‘Homewrecker’ to Caretaker
她曾经是我父母婚姻的第三者

She’s tall for a Chinese woman, built like an Olympic volleyball player. Her torso is long, her face wide. Dark pink powder accents her cheekbones.

她在中国女人里个子算高的,体格像奥运排球选手。她身长脸宽,深粉色的扑粉突出了她的颧骨。

“Peasant features,” my mother used to say. “Not beautiful, not even pretty!”

“农民长相,”我母亲曾说,“不美,漂亮都算不上!”

My father disagreed.

父亲不这么看。

Twenty-five years ago, he left my mother for this woman, a graduate student in his department — and more than three decades his junior.

25年前,他为这个女人离开了母亲,她是他系里的研究生——比他小30多岁。

She became his wife (I would never call her my stepmother). His house became their house. Though by now, it feels mostly like her house, with her knickknacks and plastic slippers and stacks of papers to grade. I no longer refer to these occasional weekend trips as coming home, with its implied warmth and welcome, but rather going to visit, a wholly different beast.

她成了他的妻子(我永远不会管她叫继母)。他的房子成了他们的房子。虽然现在,感觉上那更像是她的房子,里面有她的小摆设、塑料拖鞋和成堆要批改的论文。我不再管这些偶尔的周末之旅叫回家,那暗含着温情与欢迎,我说探望,那可是截然不同的一种东西。

During a recent visit, she prepared his oatmeal with flax seeds and almonds, and fed it to him one spoonful at a time. In between bites, he mumbled. Often his voice is laced with irritation, though that morning’s confusion felt benign.

最近一趟探望中,她为他做了亚麻籽和扁桃仁燕麦粥,然后一勺一勺喂他。在吃东西的间隙,他咕哝着。他的声音里常夹杂着怒气,不过那天早晨的困惑似乎是良性的。

“Look who is here,” she said.

“看看谁来了,”她说。

I beckoned my two children, who inched forward awkwardly. “Hi Gung-Gung,” said the 6-year-old, and my father opened his eyes.

我招呼我的两个孩子过来,他们局促地凑上前。“嗨,公公,”6岁那个说,父亲睁开了眼睛。

“Hi Ba, we’re here!” I said.

“嗨,爸,我们来了!”我说。

“Ah, hi, hi!” He nodded with the enthusiasm of a puppy. One hand reached out from under his thick blanket. The children smiled. He couldn’t remember their names.

“啊,嗨,嗨!”他像只小狗一样兴奋地点着头,从厚厚的毯子下面伸出一只手来。孩子们笑了。他不记得他们的名字。

Twenty-five years ago, my father was a professor of theoretical physics, charismatic, with an agile mind. How did it happen? Did he notice her sitting in the front row of his lectures, always asking the most pertinent questions? Did she come to his office hours, hesitantly at first, accompanied by a classmate, then later, on her own? Was he a Casanova fueled by lust, or was theirs a gradual kinship, sparked by a shared fascination with high-Tc superconductivity? Who made the first move?

25年前,父亲是一个理论物理学教授,思维敏捷,魅力四射。那一切是怎么发生的?是他注意到她坐在前排听讲,总是在问最切题的问题?还是她会在办公时间去找他,开始有些犹豫,叫一名同学陪着,后来就自己去?他是受欲望指使的花花公子吗,还是说,他们之间是循序渐进的亲密关系,由对高温超导的共同迷恋所激发?是谁主动的?

Given the power differential, one might have assumed he was the manipulative party, but my mother never saw it that way.

鉴于权力的差异,人们可能会认为他是操纵的一方,但母亲从不这么看。

“She comes to this country from mainland; of course she wants his money!” she would often say. “Green card. Gold digger. Your Ba, so stupid, only knows his physics!”

“她从大陆来到这个国家;她当然想要他的钱!”她过去常这么说。“绿卡。拜金女。你爸太傻,只知道物理!”

Back then, I sided with my mother out of loyalty. Of course I did. As a daughter, as a young woman, as a feminist. My mother was strong, but this hurt.

那时候,我出于忠诚站在了母亲一边。我当然会这么做。无论是作为女儿,作为一名年轻女性,还是作为女性主义者。我母亲很坚强,但这事很伤。

My father’s wife returned to scooping oatmeal into his mouth. I sat by his feet. She spoke in a loud, upbeat tone without glancing my way. Over the years, she has never asked for help, ignored my many offers, and now we’re entrenched in a place where it’s less awkward if I don’t offer, and I wonder if I should have tried harder.

父亲的妻子接着喂他燕麦粥。我坐在他脚旁。她用一种响亮、上扬的语气说话,不朝我这边看。这些年来,她从没寻求过帮助,没理会我主动提供的很多帮助,现在我们陷入一种为难的境地,我不主动还少些尴尬,不过我也在想,是不是应该更主动。

My mother is no longer alive, but I still hear her voice: “Homewrecker.”

母亲已不在世,但我依然能听到她说:“第三者”。

I don’t fault my father. He was dissatisfied. My parents’ marriage was one I never understood: She nagged, he yelled, they fought, she ignored.

我不怪父亲。他是不满足的。我始终无法理解父母的婚姻:她唠叨、他吼叫、他们吵架、她不理不睬。

纽约时报中英文网 www.qqenglish.com

I remember, as a child, watching him pace in endless circles around the house. “Are you working again?” I would ask. “Yep,” he’d say, a huge grin on his face. He loved that thinking was his work. To teach us math he would sit us on his lap, ask us to calculate how many chickens and how many pigs, in a barnyard with 18 legs and six heads.

记得小时候,我看着他在屋子里没完没了地转圈。“你又在工作吗?”我会这么问。“没错,”他咧嘴一笑说道。他喜欢别人觉得他在工作。教我们数学时,他会让我们坐在他膝盖上,说谷仓前的空地上有18条腿和6个头,让我们算算有多少只鸡和多少只猪。

I can’t fault my mother, either. A practical woman, she worked as a librarian and raised three children, carting us to gymnastics and swimming and piano lessons, always chop-chopping with her silver cleaver in the kitchen while a bone broth simmered on the stove.

我也不能怪母亲。她是个务实的女人,靠一份图书管理员的工作养活着三个孩子,载着我们去上体操、游泳和钢琴课,总在拿她那把亮闪闪的剁肉刀在厨房里切切剁剁,旁边炉子上煨着骨汤。

The difference between them, I think, was this: My mother never expected a life of happiness or fulfillment; my father did.

我想,他们之间的不同在于:母亲从未期待过一种幸福或有成就感的生活;父亲却在期待。

Midlife crisis, we thought (though he was pushing 60). It won’t last. Also, ew (she was in her 20s, my age). Today, would my father be presumed a predator? Back then, in the ’90s, there were whispers, snickers, haughty rolls of eyes. Today, surely he would face condemnation. And she, if not a conniving, green-card-coveting gold digger, was naïve at best, a silly young woman, easily duped. Today, perhaps someone would protect her from her own foolishness.

中年危机,我们这样想(虽然他已年近六旬)。长久不了的。而且,呃(她才20来岁,和我一般大)。如今父亲会被看作是猎色者吗?90年代的时候,人们窃窃私语、偷笑、眼睛滴溜溜地转。放在今天,他无疑会面临谴责。而她,就算不是贪图绿卡的淘金女,充其量也不过是个幼稚、好骗、没头脑的年轻女子。而今,也许会有人护着她,让她不被自己的愚蠢伤到。

His was a slow decline over many years. First the forgetfulness, pauses, gaps, easy to forgive. Then the same stories, repeated, looping across days, then hours, then minutes, seconds. One morning he lost his way driving to campus on roads he had followed for more than 40 years. A kindhearted undergrad found him panicking, brought him to his office. The term absent-minded professor took on a dark new meaning.

多年以来,他的健康状况一直在慢慢变差。起初是健忘、呆滞、语无伦次、容易原谅。接着是重复、循环说同一段话,先是几天、再是几小时、然后几分钟、几秒钟。一天早上,在开车去学校的路上,他在走了40多年的路上迷了路。一名好心的本科生发现他神色慌张,把他送到了办公室。“心不在焉的教授”这个概念,多了一层灰暗的新含义。

Another time, he called me in a panic. “I was working on my physics, and suddenly I felt so fuzzy, I had no idea where I was. Daughter, are you listening? If I lose my mind, I don’t want to live.”

还有一次,他慌张地打电话给我。“我在忙物理的事,突然觉得迷迷糊糊,我不知道自己在哪儿。女儿,你在听吗?如果失去理智,我不想活下去。”

He started to cry. I didn’t know what to say. My father, like all fathers, was supposed to be invincible.

他开始哭。我不知道该说什么。像所有父亲一样,父亲理应是坚不可摧的。

Still, his deterioration was tempered by a sameness to these weekend visits. We had our rituals: Chinese buffet (she would bring her own tea leaves), Red Lobster for dinner (he would order the surf and turf), the 60-inch television on nonstop, Chinese soap operas or CNN.

不过他的病情恶化因得这些一成不变的周末来访有所缓和。我们有固定仪式:中式自助餐(她会自带茶叶),晚餐吃红龙虾(他会点海鲜牛排套餐),60英寸的电视不停地放着中国肥皂剧或CNN。

We would go for a stroll on the sidewalks of their suburban neighborhood — first, all of us, one child in a stroller; then he, clinging to her arm, the children running ahead; then one of us pushing his wheelchair, blanket on his lap. Now, at 83, he hardly goes out at all. He can’t walk or urinate or eat by himself. She sits him by the window, the shades drawn up on sunny days.

我们会在他们的城郊住宅区人行道上散步——起先是我们所有人一起,婴儿车里推着一个孩子;接着他紧紧抓着她的胳膊,孩子在前面跑;之后我们其中一人推着他的轮椅,他的膝盖上盖着毯子。如今到了83岁,他几乎完全不出门。他走路、小便或吃饭都不能自理。她让他坐在窗边,太阳好的时候拉起窗帘。

She is cordial, kind to the children. But she doesn’t ask about their school or activities, or whether we have summer plans. I try to engage: “How many classes are you teaching this semester?” “Has it been cold?” “How is his appetite?”

她对孩子们和善而热情。但她不问他们在学校怎样或者有什么活动,也不问我们的暑假计划。我试着跟她交流:“这学期你教几门课?”“天气冷吗?”“他胃口怎么样?”

She is polite but unwavering in her reserve. It’s cultural, maybe, but it’s also this: I am my mother’s daughter.

她彬彬有礼,但始终出言谨慎。也许是文化的原因,但也因为我是我母亲的女儿。

Here’s the thing: She doesn’t seem bitter. Weary, yes. Sometimes her voice grows thin, even sharp.

是这样:她看起来并不愤恨。是的,有些疲惫。有时她的声音会变细,甚至尖锐。

I can hear my mother’s warning: “Don’t let her fool you.”

我能听到母亲的警告:“你小心被她骗了。”

But there remains a gentleness to her touch as she reaches to adjust my father’s baseball cap or gray wool socks or the dark glasses on his face.

但当她伸手整理父亲的棒球帽、灰色羊毛袜或者他脸上的墨镜时,动作始终有一种温柔。

She could put him in a facility, hire a full-time nurse, a roster of home health aides.

她可以把他送进护理机构,雇一个全职护士,一大群家庭健康助理。

She doesn’t.

她没有这么做。

Sometimes, I spy. She holds his hand even when no one else is in the room.

有时候我会偷窥。即使房间里没有其他人,她也会握着他的手。

Once, they co-wrote academic papers, discussed politics while eating pistachios in bed, watched early seasons of “The Bachelor.” Once, they would drive two hours just for a dim sum meal, fly off to Asia for a school reunion. It was obvious — but never easy for me to accept — how well her intellect, curiosity and sense of enchantment matched his.

他们曾经共同撰写学术论文,在床上一边吃开心果一边讨论政治,一起看《单身汉》(The Bachelor)的前几季。有一次,他们开两个小时的车去吃粤式点心,然后坐飞机去亚洲参加同学会。她的智慧、好奇心和迷人的感觉和他很般配,这是显而易见的,但我始终难以接受。

She couldn’t have known he would end up this way.

她不可能知道他最后会变成这样。

Around dinnertime, my 8-year-old asked to go to the Chinese buffet, “like always.”

大约晚饭时间,8岁的儿子叫我一起去吃中式自助餐,“和平时一样。”

“Like always” will end one day, soon.

总有一天,“和平时一样”会告终,这一天会来得很快。

It was cumbersome, getting my father into the van, though she has a practiced system: Right foot here, left hand there, up, mind your head! O.K., the seat is here, relax.

把父亲抬上车是件很麻烦的事,然而她有一套娴熟的方法:右脚放这里,左手放那里,抬头,当心头!很好,座位在这儿,放松。

Before he relaxed, she was bearing every ounce of his weight.

在他放松下来之前,她的身体承受着他的每一分重量。

She could do this, I realize, because he has lost so much. He’s a bag of bones. And her strength has become important, a practical advantage. I keep thinking: How wisely he chose. How lucky I am. If it wasn’t her, it would be me, but as a caregiver I have none of her grace.

我意识到,她可以这么做,是因为他失去了太多。他瘦得皮包骨头。她的力量变得很重要,一种实际的优势。我一直在想:他的选择是多么明智。我真幸运。如果不是她,那就是我,但作为一个照护者,我没有她那样优雅。

“Long time no see!” said the host at the Chinese buffet.

“好久不见!”中式自助餐厅老板说。

He wore a terry cloth bib. She loaded his plate with spareribs and ginger beef, cracked his king crab legs with her teeth. An hour later, back at the house, she was feeding him leftovers.

他戴着一件毛巾布围嘴。她在他的盘子里装满排骨和生姜牛肉,替他咬开帝王蟹腿。一个小时后,回到家里,她把剩菜喂给他吃。

“Still hungry, Ba?” I patted his head.

“还饿吗,爸?”我拍了拍他的头。

“He has good appetite,” she said, and we smiled as if he were a baby who had just finished his bottle. As we cleared the dishes, he started to mumble again, “Ahh, get out!” The air around him rattled with his annoyance. The demented are rarely grateful. But she is the one who could run away.

“他胃口很好,”她说,我们都笑了,仿佛他是个刚把奶瓶喝空的婴儿。当我们收拾碗碟时,他又开始咕哝:“啊,出去!”他周围的空气仿佛都因为他的恼怒而变得紧张起来。失智症患者很少心存感激。但她本可以逃开。

She hasn’t. She won’t.

她没有。她不会。

“Open wide,” she said. She flossed his teeth.

“张大嘴,”她说着,用牙线给他剔牙。

I wonder what people think of them now. But society’s assumptions and opinions don’t matter. To them, they never did.

我想知道人们现在怎么看他们。但社会的成见和观点并不重要。他们从来没有在乎过。

However scorned or unsightly, their marriage has taught me: Don’t be so quick to judge.

无论他们的婚姻是多么可鄙或不雅,但它教会了我:不要急于下结论。

She stands tall, proud, resilient. For better or worse, until death do us part.

她有担当,骄傲,坚强。无论是好是坏,直到死亡将我们分开。

This is love, undeniably. (I’m sorry, Ma.)

无可否认,这就是爱。(对不起,妈)。

This is love, deep in the trenches, worthy of respect, admiration and gratitude.

这就是爱,夫妻如战友,值得尊重、敬佩和感激。

网站部分信息来源于自互联网和网友上传,只为方便大家查询浏览,请自行核对信息的真实情况,本站将不承担任何责任!

您可以还会对下面的文章感兴趣:

  • 36小时环游新加坡
  • 辞掉工作、花了57天,他们找回了走失的狗
  • 中国颁布新规,限制未成年人玩游戏
  • 改善健康也许很简单:每天少吃300卡
  • 艺人高以翔录综艺猝死,“玩命”真人秀引发众怒
  • 最新评论

    留言与评论(共有 条评论)
       
    验证码: