Sunday, October 16, 2011

My Cousin, Maylin, and Me (10/9)

     Maylin is my dad's oldest sister's daughter.  She's one of my most admired cousins in the Sung Family.  Dad has 6 brothers and 6 sisters, with numerous cousins for us.  There are many with great accomplishments, but Maylin always is number 1 in my heart.

    Maylin skipped the 6th grade which impressed us all.  She is 7 years older than I am, so you know it was a big deal to skip a grade when we all had to take the infamous entrance exams to go to middle and high schools as we progressed in the Taiwanese education system.  She did well in all her high school years and entered the famed University of Taiwan, 台大, as we called it, majoring in "foreign languages".  I always wanted to be smart like Maylin as I was growing up.

    Maylin's dad died at the age of 49 when she was in high school.  It was devastating to her and the family, but her dad left a fortune for my aunt and their 6 children to have comfortable living.  Maylin finished her bachelor's degree from the University of Taiwan and got a job working for CAT (later became China Air Lines), the CIA and others.  My recollection was that she wanted to go to the US to further her education, but her brothers were against it. She met her future husband, Guild Anthony Fetridge, an airman from the US and decided to marry him to go with him to the US.  My recollection was that it was devastating to her family when she decided to marry a foreigner.  It was an uproar for the Sung family.  I believe at that time our cousin George had married an American girl, but no one said much about it.  But for a girl to marry a foreigner was not the same in the Sung Family.  Maylin married Fetridge despite the opposition and moved to New York.

     My family moved to Taipei during my senior year in high school.  Since I was supposed to take the entrance exam to go to college, my parents were reluctant to move me to Taipei.  So, the arrangements were made for me to stay with Maylin's mom to finish school and the exam.  It was a great arrangement as my aunt missed Maylin a lot and I was there to be with her, to keep her company.  She told me I reminded her of Maylin.  I did pretty well at school.  I was offered a 4-year merit scholarship to go to the National Normal University.  It was quite an honor as the local newspapers reported the list of 4 or 6 high school seniors from Tainan to receive the awards.  I should have been happy; the honor, the 4-year scholarship, and best of all, I wouldn't have to take the infamous entrance exam.  I remember going to my parents in tears that I didn't want to be a teacher.  At first, my parents were relieved that they didn't have to pay for my college tuitions, but they didn't stand in my way.  Mom said that if I didn't want to be a teacher, I didn't need to do it.  I remember my Grandfather Sung hit the roof when he heard that I was turning down the scholarships.  He didn't think a girl needed to go to college to begin with, now I refused to accept a 4-year scholarship to go to the best teachers' college in Taiwan.  My mom supported me in my decision.

     In my decision to choose a major, Maylin played an important role in influencing me.  I had wanted to go into science or math, but my grandfather and my parents both were against it for fear that no one would marry me if I went into those fields.  Who wants to marry a smart woman?? So, I told them I would follow in Maylin's footsteps and go into foreign languages.  At that time, National Chengchi University had the "diplomacy" major for future diplomats.  I would get a degree in languages, in law and also in political science.  I chose that field and made the cut to enter that field.  My desires were to go to work in the United Nations after getting a masters' degree in International Relations from Brigham Young University.  But Elwin swept me off my feet and he didn't mind marrying a smart girl (Elwin wrote this).  You may remember that Taiwan was kicked out of UN to allow the Peoples' Republic of China to enter, which would have ended my dream of working there, anyway.

     So, there it was, after these many years, Maylin and I had a chance to meet again.  Because of the holidays, I only needed to take a day and half off to be with her for the 3 days she was in Hong Kong.  President Aki was kind enough to allow me to have the personal leave and I would make up the time missed.

     We had a grand time taking Maylin around.  She may be a few years older than I, but is very active physically.  She still skis 4 times a year in the Alps, Vail, Park City and Idaho.  She is semi-retired as a commercial realtor in Manhattan.  We took her to visit Nan Lian Garden, and to the Victoria Peak the first day.  On the second day we visited Aberdeen and saw the junk boats that she remembered from 40 years ago.  Hong Kong has changed a lot, but it's still Hong Kong and we all enjoyed it very much.  Below is a link to the slideshow of our trip called Maylin and Me. (

     It was a fun week as I celebrated my birthday with Elwin and Maylin. 

1 comment:

  1. A note: 16 years after I turned down the offer to become a teacher, I went into the education field. This is how your own kids can impact you for life. Yes, those 4 darlings made me realize how much I loved being a teacher. Thanks, kids!