(Minghui.org) People who grew up in mainland China may remember the song, “Little Cabbage,” which describes the bitterness and sorrow of having a hardhearted stepmother. For many people, a stepmother not only evokes a negative image, but also a shudder.

I have a friend who is a stepmother. I met her in 2003. As she is a bit older than me, I call her “elder sister,” and her husband “brother-in-law.”

Elder sister is 40 years old, but she only looks about 30. She is 165cm tall (5ft-5in.) with a nice figure. Her shiny, long, black hair falls to her waist, and her peach-colored face always wears a smile. There is something very special in her bearing. Her husband had a family, but his ex-wife left him with their three-year-old daughter, seeking something else. When he married elder sister, he didn't have much, except a set of old furniture and a job that earned him only 120 yuan per month. Six years later, elder sister gave birth to a son. Although they were not financially well off, their life was calm and peaceful.

In summer 2004, brother-in-law's ex-wife returned with their daughter, who was about to start attending senior high school. She left the daughter with brother-in-law. Elder sister's family members were worried that the ex-wife and her daughter might cause trouble, and told elder sister to keep them at a distance. However, elder sister was very kind to the daughter and went to the exam site during each exam session to encourage and comfort her, telling her to let go of any pressure and treat the exams with a calm mind. Elder sister's family members all thought it was very kind of her.

The daughter was later admitted into an elite school in our city. Elder sister asked the daughter to live with them, but she declined the invitation. Elder sister told her that their door was always open to her, and that she was always welcome any time she wanted to come back home.

When it was time for the Mid-Autumn Festival, elder sister went to the school to see the daughter, and took moon cakes with her. The girl was very happy and said, “Thank you, aunty!” One day in winter, elder sister told me it was the daughter's birthday, and invited me to come with her to get a present. We couldn't find anything suitable, so I suggested she give her some money instead. We went to her school dormitory, and I could see that the girl was truly moved.

Later, due to some changes, the girl wanted to move out and rent a place outside of school. Her mother was concerned about her safety and called elder sister. Elder sister discussed the issue with brother-in-law and decided to let her live with them. In order to provide her a good learning environment, elder sister moved her own son out his room so that the daughter could have a room for herself. Elder sister put up a small bed in the sitting room to sleep on. Later, brother-in-law insisted that he sleep on the small bed, so elder sister could share their bedroom with their son.

The daughter was rather petite and ate very little. Elder sister paid attention to what the daughter liked to eat and always tried to cook something for her. Elder sister lived a very simple life, and I seldom saw her buying any new clothes for herself. She mostly wore clothing that was given to her by her own elder sister. One day, she bought a new white coat for the daughter, saying that she wished the daughter to be as pure and beautiful as Snow White.

It's by no means easy to take care of a teenage girl, who can be rather moody or indulge in fantasies, especially when they are under a lot of pressure from studies. Elder sister chatted with the daughter often, telling her that only by conducting oneself according to the principles of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance can one truly be a good person and have more friends. Later, whenever the daughter came across something that bothered her, she would seek out elder sister in the evening and pour out her troubles. Elder sister always told her stories about karma and reincarnation. Soon the girl's worries disappeared.

The daughter also brought her friends home from time to time, and elder sister always gave them a warm welcome and cooked them nice food. I don't know what predestined relationship elder sister had with the daughter, but their temperaments and personalities were similar, and they always got along well. The daughter's own mother said to her, “You don't seem like my daughter, but your aunty's.” When she had issues with her daughter, she would call elder sister for help, saying that the girl listens to what elder sister says. The daughter's own mother is an out-going and sociable person, and she often says to others, “My daughter is very fortunate because she has a stepmother who practices Falun Gong. She treats her even better than me.” Three years quickly passed and the girl graduated from high school. She wanted to learn how to play the guitar, so elder sister gave her money for the tuition, hoping it would help her to relax a bit.

However, the next day, July 19, 2007, elder sister was illegally arrested by police on her way to work. Brother-in-law went through a lot of trouble to find out where she had been taken. A few days later he learned that she was being detained in the local detention center. He and elder sister's younger sister went to see her, but were denied the visit, and he was only allowed to leave 500 yuan for her.

Things were very expensive in the detention center, but elder sister only used 80 yuan for necessities. A month later, she was transferred to a forced labor camp. All her family members went to visit her, and they could only see her through the outside iron bars and weep. Elder sister said to the daughter, “No matter how difficult it is, you must keep up with your studies and finish them. Ask your dad if you need money.” The daughter kept nodding her head and crying. Elder sister then turned to her husband and said, “I cannot earn any money for the family now. I didn't spend much of the money you deposited for me. Take it out and pay for the kids' education.” Brother-in-law's face was covered with tears.

A year later, elder sister returned home at last. Her once-shining black hair had turned gray at her temples. She looked haggard and tired, and walked with unsteady steps. I could hardly hold back my tears, and couldn't imagine what suffering she had been through at the forced labor camp. The evil Chinese Communist Party persecuted such a kind person into such a condition.

Brother-in-law was so worried that such things would happen to elder sister again that he started drinking, and tried to force elder sister to give up practicing Falun Gong. He even threatened her with a divorce. Elder sister calmly clarified the facts to him and said, “You have also benefited from Dafa. How can you not feel grateful? All my illnesses disappeared after I started practicing Falun Gong. I've taken care of everything at home and you don't have to do any house chores. You have also witnessed how I've treated your daughter. I wouldn't have been able to do things this way if I were not a Falun Dafa practitioner.”

I also went to reason with him and said, “You know your own financial situation. For four or five years, it cost over 10,000 yuan each year for your daughter's school fees, excluding the extra money given to her for holiday travels. How fortunate you are to have married such a nice person like elder sister, and yet you don't cherish her, and you drink and abuse her. Now you even threaten her with a divorce. You're being so unreasonable.” Their son also found him a bit over the top and said, “Mother, you're too nice. He's been drinking and unreasonable for over a year now. Why can't you just move out and start running a little store? I'll move out with you.” Elder sister didn't say anything, and just smiled. Gradually, brother-in-law pulled in his horns and became more rational.

When the daughter came home, he was very happy. He said to her after dinner, “No matter what I've done for you, it's nothing, because it's my responsibility. But you must never forget your aunty! She never said 'no' when we paid for your education and spent money to help you look for jobs.” His daughter nodded her head and tears ran down her face. Elder sister said with a smile, “Just remember, Falun Dafa is good.”

Ten years have gone by, and the daughter is now grown-up and has a job. Elder sister also cares a lot about her getting married, and was very happy when the daughter brought home a nice young man to meet them.

The daughter came home to spend the New Year this year, and elder sister and the daughter had a hearty chat as usual. They talked about marriage and family. The daughter told her that their generation was facing an emotional and family crisis. Elder sister explained to her that human society has degenerated because people no longer have any principles to restrain themselves, and they don't understand that to love is to give, and it's a responsibility. They shouldn't just take, or expect anything in return.

A family cannot be based on material comforts or emotions. In fact who is in a family with whom is decided by predestined karmic relationships from past lives. They are all different, and present themselves in different ways. Some people have very little tolerance, and whenever conflicts arise they talk about breaking up and going their separate ways. This won't work.

You must learn to be tolerant and not argue over trivial things. Always look at the good points of the other person and never treat him like a servant. You should always give him time and space for himself. There is an obligation between husband and wife. For a woman, she should cherish the man given to her, and for a man, he should take responsibility for her. This is a basic principle to observe. You must cherish the predestined relationship you have with him.

The daughter is very good too. She always remembers to give elder sister flowers or presents during festivals, especially on Mother's Day. Elder sister's family members are very happy to see this and often say, “Elder sister's husband's daughter treats her like her mother.”

Ten years have gone by, and each day has been a manifestation of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance. In celebrating World Falun Dafa Day, we share something common in our hearts: Greetings, Master Li! Thank you for your compassionate kindness!