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Meri Lin's parents--Sheng and Xiao Chen Ling--were born in China but came to the United States to start their family "for opportunity." They believed wholeheartedly that America was a land of great freedom, but did not wish to relinquish their culture to live there. They left their families to start anew in the Chinatown area of New York City so they could have the benefits of a free country but not feel too alienated. Sheng Ling got a day job and soon enough they were also able to make some extra money with a flower shop run by Xiao Chen.

They named their daughters Lin and Lee, names Americans didn't have trouble pronouncing, and their girls grew up bilingual and well-adjusted, taking on new names in addition to their given names when they hit their teen years. Culture has always been important to the Ling family, but now the elder daughter Meri Lin is starting her life with an outsider: Born and bred American Fred Fisher. Both parents are dismayed at this because they feel marrying a person from outside their culture would deny its importance; plus they don't speak English well enough to even find out if they like the guy. Once their daughter got pregnant, they began to see her as something of a lost cause, and though they do not disown her for this transgression, they still express the wish that Meri Lin won't marry Fred. Perhaps they're still holding out that she'll meet a nice Chinese man and settle down?

They move back to China because of a family emergency during Meri Lin's pregnancy and they have never met their grandchildren.

My favorite Meri Lin's parents pictures (click on the small pictures to see large, good quality scans):

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