On 23rd of April some of the residence of 4100 gathered in the common room to belatedly celebrate the 96th birthday of Lee AN (Annie Lee). Annie was born in 1919 in northern china and grew up in that country’s most turbulent period. The War Lord Era of China lasted from 1916 until 1928 followed 3 years later, 1931, by the Japanese occupation of Manchuria (Manchukuo) which was the prelude to the Japanese invasion and occupation of China from 1937 until the end of WWII in 1945. Under the Japanese occupation Annie lost her entire family and was forced to go to a Japanese school to learn the language and culture of Japan. It is safe to say that even to this day she isn’t that fond of the Japanese.
I first met Annie two years ago and right away liked her, she is to say the least a character. A loveable character. Annie is a living History Book of early and mid-twentieth century China from the Republic (1912-1949) to Chairman Mao and the Communists (1949-present). The period she lived through and observed was perhaps the largest upheaval in the 4000 years of Chinese History.
During her life Annie has moved from her native village in northern China to Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong and from there to the U.S. where she still has family in Los Angeles. She would later move here to Canada eventually ending up at 4100 Longmoor. There are gaps in Annie’s story as she forgets somethings and I have not really asked about certain things in her life but I do know this she is a sweet caring person who is always bringing treats out to lobby where she sits and listens to others so she can learn more English. Her visits to the lobby have become less lately as she has trouble walking as her legs bother her a lot. Whenever I see her I say Ni Hao (Hello in Mandarin) it is the only phrase I know in Chinese. Annie speaks Mandarin, Japanese, and English plus the Shanghai and Hong Kong dialects and at 96 is still learning. Sometimes I tease her a little by saying one or two of the Japanese phrases I picked up in my travels. She answers, then says “don’t like Japanese they killed my family”. Sometimes when she is feeling down she will say she has lived to long and asks why the gods won’t take her. I told her once that when the gods are ready they will call her and that she should enjoy whatever time they have allotted her.
So at 1:30 Tuesday 22nd we all gathered in the common room to wish Annie a Happy Birthday give cards and the one gave her flowers. It was a little overwhelming for her I think because she was having stomach cramps and not feeling well. Shortly after 2:00 she asked to be taken to the hospital where they kept her overnight because she was severely de-hydrated. She is home now and more than likely in a few days be coming back out to the lobby bringing treats and listening to others speaking picking up more English and joking every now and then. Here’s hoping that she is still with us when she hits her centennial. MAN ZOU ANNIE.