Feng Baoli, a 35 year old woman in this northern city of southwest China’s Sichuan Province, got married last month. Nothing unusual about that, but for the fact she married her new husband in the presence of her paralyzed former husband, and the three have pledged to live together for the rest of their lives, West China Metropolis News reported. They have also pledged to live with the paralyzed man’s ailing mother.
More than 100 residents in Linyuan Community, where Feng lives, attended the wedding. They think of her as “a very kind-hearted person who could move many to tears”. Liu Liming, chief of the community, spoke of Feng at the wedding reception.
Feng and her ex-husband Li Bing, a construction worker, became acquainted in 1989 and got married six years later. In May 200, their only daughter was born. ‘We were so overjoyed and named her “Ting Ting” with the hope that she would be a beautiful girl,’ Feng said. But only five months later, Li fell from the third floor of a construction site and became paralyzed. From then on, she alone had to take care of Li and his mother. Because Li is incontinent, Feng has to wash him every day. Sometimes, it can be an exhausting task.
Misfortune never comes singly. In 2001, a tumor was discovered in the kidney of their baby. She died three months later because the couple could not afford medical treatment. After Li’s paralysis, the community found Feng a job as a cleaner with a monthly salary of 400 yuan ($51). Every day, Feng had to get up at 4am to wash Li and prepare breakfast before leaving for work at 5am. Finishing work at noon, she would hurry to the market to buy food for the evening meal. Despite her poor financial circumstances, Feng saved enough money to buy a second-hand wheelchair for Li so that she could take him for walks.
Unwilling to be a burden, Li had asked Feng to divorce him on a number of occasions and start a new life. But Feng said she would only do so if Li and his mother could also live with her new family. Moved by Feng’s story; Zhao Kejin, a 38 year old tricycle rider from Changheyan Village in Mianyang, proposed marriage, promising to take care of Li and his mother until they passed away. Zhao, who took care of his paralyzed father for three years before his death, said he admired Feng’s kind heart and was willing to share her hardship.
“I can earn about 800 yuan ($103) a month to support the family. I am strong enough to help Li move about,” Zhao said. His sincerity convinced Feng to divorce Li and marry him. When they got married, Feng and Zhao signed an agreement with Li, pledging to take good care of him and his mother until they died.According to neighbors, Zhao has kept his promise and is very kind to Li. “To make it easier for Li’s wheelchair to enter the house, Zhao has changed the steps in front of the house into a two meter long slope,” said Liu Hong, a neighbor.
After her story spread, Feng was chosen by locals in March through a poll as one of the top 10 people touching the hearts of Mianyang people for the year 2006.
By Huang Zhiling
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