In December of 2011, my Father suffered a debilitating stroke which left him with acute aphasia and paralysis on his right side. As part of his road to recovery, my Mother has brought him to The First Teaching Hospital of Tianjin University where he, at the time of this writing, is undergoing extensive stroke recovery treatments. This is her journal...

September 10

The trip to the Great Wall yesterday was tiring for everyone and when we finished in that, ahem, restaurant, Peter was too slow for Wong. It looks uncomfortable but if you look closely you can see Peter laughing.

Progress is continuing to be made with Wong having him walk up the stairs every day. It's clearly getting easier for Peter, and he's encouraged by that. We will have to continue it at home. Wong has taken such a liking to Peter and the two of them have developed a special bond. They will miss each other, but as a thank you we arranged for him to be able to get email. I asked him if he wanted it and he told me yes, but he "had never played". Cute. Anyway, we can now stay in touch if I can figure out how to get my words into Chinese characters. There must be a way.

Peter was charged with the responsibility of picking the restaurant tonight. He chose Kens favorite place, The Sizzling Fish. Obviously he likes it too. Wong and Zhau are glad because it's Chinese and not some weird western "not tasty" restaurant. They all wore their new shirts.

September 11

As I have said before, no patient is confined to the hospital. On admittance, a standard pair of striped pajamas is issued.. Peter has a pair too, but none of the westerners want to wear them. Nothing strange, so far, but the Chinese go everywhere in theirs. All over, you can see them walking around and even eating in restaurants in them. I asked Ruth why they didn't change their clothes and she said that they're very proud of being treated at this hospital. Maybe we can convince Ken and Peter to wear theirs out to dinner one night so they can be proud too. Ha, fat chance.

September 12

People in China are very health conscious and exercise often. They particularly love Tai Chi and you will see people practicing in the parks, small patches of grass or even hospital lobbies. I gave up, but Sue got pretty good.

September 13

Qinningbo is back! Only for a day though. He emailed me that he is going to graduate school in another city but would be around for a little while and did I want to get together. We met for lunch at Pizza Hut and he came up to see Peter after that. What a sweet kid. We are Facebook friends now so we can stay in touch. Adrianna and Pam will be jealous when I write them!! Another new Facebook friend is Dr. Ho. He gave Peter his moxibustion treatments for a few weeks and is very sweet. He's from Hong Kong and intends to practice there when he finishes his residency. Facebook is blocked in China but they figure out a way.

September 14

Went to Beijing today with Hensley, Ying and Yvette. We took the bullet train which seemed to float to Beijing. It is on a high speed magnetic rail and got us there in half an hour. A car would have taken over two and a half hours. Imagine, just a third of the time. Wouldn't it be nice to go from Atlanta to Nashville or Savannah in less than an hour and a half? Oh well, maybe politics will get out of the way eventually.

Beijing is a city very much like Tianjin in size. There are a lot more tourist sites there, though, so people are accustomed to westerners. It was nice not being stared at for a day. Yvette wanted to do some shopping so we went to that area. There are a lot of American chains there including a Forever 21. I went and stood inside for a while. I've tried this at home, but it didn't work here either.

When we got back to Tianjin, the three of them had to go in a different direction so I went off alone. I started walking in the direction of the hospital and tried to flag down a cab. It was rush hour, so no luck. I had a map but could not locate my position as the streets are poorly marked. I showed it to the first young couple I saw and asked them to point me in the right direction. The young guy spoke excellent English and said "you're going to the TCM Hospital? I'm going there too, you need the 650 bus. Just follow me." I followed him to the bus stop, but I wondered how it could be that some random stranger happened to be going to exactly the same stop across town. I wondered even more when his companion got on a different bus. The bus came and it was jammed. The proverbial sardines, squared. We had to stand, and the bus alternately lurched and sped forward where it could. What a ride, but I couldn't have fallen if I wanted to. Meanwhile, the kid kept talking to me in English. He was very sweet and asked a lot of questions about America. He told me he had studied English because he liked it. Then it occurred to me that he had done this to be able to practice it for the duration of the trip. He had even paid for my fare with his card. We got out at the hospital and we exchanged a few more pleasantries. Then he said, "well, I have to go home now". Wow, that was the nicest thing a stranger has ever done for me. Kudos to China. (and, yes, I checked to make sure my wallet was still there.)

September 15

Our last Saturday here and we went to the antique street again. Peter loves looking at old stuff and what they consider junk is pretty interesting to us. Got a very nice little carved jade pendant. We wanted to go back to Hanks for dinner, but couldn't get a cab to stop. Ate in the neighborhood and were treated to a gorgeous sunset.

September 16

The wedding is today! We're all excited and are looking forward to what it might be like. It certainly has its own style. First, they set off fireworks outside. Then, the couple arrives together in a red car. Has to be red. He lifts her out of the car into the building while his friends shower them with confetti.

The ceremony itself is different. There is no clergyman, just an emcee/announcer. The bride and her father stand at the back of the room while the emcee talks and talks. They are standing under a spotlight and I thought her poor dad was going to melt before they could move. The groom then walks back and replaces the father. They walked up to the front and read something out of a little red book to each other. (Mao's?) the parents and three honored friends are now sitting in two rows facing each other flanking the aisle. After the vows, the couple steps down to face their parents. The groom states that he accepts hers and she does likewise with his. They bow to each. Very sweet. The friends then come up and say a few words to the couple. Then the ceremony part is over and the food comes out. And comes out. And then comes out some more. It was stacked three layers deep at the end. The couple goes around to each table and says something to everyone. The guests hand them a red envelope with money in it. We had ours too.

The bride was a beautiful girl and changed her outfit twice. Each time she was dazzling.

There were a few hundred people there and the room was buzzing because of our presence. Westerners at one of their weddings. Unheard of. They seemed delighted, though, and welcomed us again and again and again. (enough already!) They also insisted we have our picture taken with them. It was a great experience.

We have only a few days to go so this is the last entry in the journal. Peter went from confinement in a wheelchair to walking with just a cane. We may do this again in a year or so to work on his arm. His speech has also improved and we will be spending a month in Chicago from mid October to mid November for another intensive speech therapy program at the Rehabilitative Institute of Chicago (RIC). A very highly rated facility. We will keep doing what we have to to bring Peter back and he's on his way. Thank you for all your emails, your words of encouragement and your support. Without it we would not have made it through as easily. We are very grateful. Xiexie (shé shé)

THE END