Nina:
It's strange how things happen... you are trudging through the mundane weary lanes of life when suddenly, out of nowhere, love walks in and touches your life in a way that you know that nothing could ever be the same again...
>> Continued
 

 

 
     
 

 
 

She's From:   China
He's From:     United States

This is Charles and Houlei's story told by Houlei...

"Charlie in the Wheelchair Shaking the Chinese Bride's Hand"

     
 

The first of July 2000, it was the most beautiful day for both Houlei from Baotou, China and Charlie from Hoopa/Willow Creek, California, USA, both confined to wheelchairs. Outside a restaurant located in the Kun District of BaoTou, two heart-shaped strings of fire crackers were exploding. Their faces were suffused with happiness from others' well wishes. The wedding reception was beginning. Host began the introduction with poetic language , "Today is the first of July 2000, two hearts from different parts of the world have collided together because of true love. Today we can recognize how great the Internet is. Today a Chinese bride's hand will be held by her American groom gently. 

 

 



   

 

 
       
 

Though each of their bygone dreams had been broken by unexpected accidents, they have enough strength and courage to support their future endeavors together as one. It's through the computer by way of the Internet, which let them find their wings to fly again. Two hearts met each other through the 'World Wide Web,' now holding hands together from the "cyber world" to the world of reality. Now, this romantic Internet love story had been downloaded to Baotou from Willow Creek..."

Car Accident, Changed the Tracks of her Life

Houlei is a beautiful, bright and unclouded Baotou girl, she had been a teacher at No. 4 Middle School of Baotou and Iron Steel Company. She graduated from the Foreign Language Department of Inner Mongolian Teacher's University in 1992. With 1.67m slim shape, elegant hair and big eyes twinkling with young spirit, she was always the one who boys admired or pursued. For 22-year-old Houlei, the beautiful life was just starting. But an unexpected accident suddenly happened. In May of 1993, Houlei was seriously injured by a car accident, and after 2 years' of treatment and so-called rehabilitation, she had to face the reality that she was a paraplegic, never to walk again.

Because her employment was under a probationary period, her then employer refused to recognized her as an employee or even adapt the work place to meet her needs. Because of this, she had no job nor income. In 1996, Houlei considered, "Why not help others Children with learning English?" Since her major was in English, she has the necessary skills and it would be an awarding opportunity. With the help from the parents, retired math teachers, she picked choice textbooks and studied the best ways of teaching. Analyzing children's mentalities, she fished out a set of active and vivid teaching methods to be used step by step. Her classes increased as time went by with more public praise, beginning with 6 students at her first class to around 200 in later years.

Surfing the Internet, Click out a Lover with the Keyboard

Houlei had a wide-range of hobbies and various interests, such as swimming, skating, playing ball and dancing. She had also many friends, more boys than girls. But after the accident, they all seemed to disappear. A few of the good friends visited her once or twice per year. She learned knitting, making tapestries for filling her time, during the loneliness, she looked forward to with others in society and communicating with people. She believed that the unexpected accident only limited her ability of walking, but it did not change her fervent endeavour of creating a life for herself.

In 1999, she bought a computer. Being closed to the world near her home, she started to look for her own world in an unreal space. Through the Internet she checked for information of foreign paraplegic intentionally, and contacted with as often as possible. One reason for this, was to try to and improve her English. Another, was to find out information and lifestyles of foreign disabled people in other countries. The American Disabled League recommended to her 5 contacts from several thousand disabled people. This chance selection gave her an opportunity to get to know Charles Bean (Called Charlie) by way of the Internet.

Hence forward there was one more friend in Houlei's flat life, even though they could not see each other, there was always one to share and listen to...

Charlie was born in 1956, in Eureka, California, USA. In the January of 1975, he met an accident on the way to work motor bike, it injured his spinal cord and left him a paraplegic. At the time of his injury he had just been married for 3 months. After that his marriage disintegrated, but he adapted to the changes of injury physically and mentally soon. He had worked as bookeeper, owned a restaurant with friends, and completed a self-study course in bookkeeping. He had been a receptionist, information technical, office manager and personnel clerk while he worked for the USDA, Forest Service.

 

 

When Charlie got Houlei's first E-mail, he was kind of excited, because he had an interest in China very much. At first, he considered Houlei as a short term friend. He had many short-term friends on through the Internet who would discontinue contact soon after they introduce themselves. But this time, things were different, they had kept in touch all the time, and communicated with each other more and more agreeably. Houlei had asked Charlie, "Why her fate sent her to be in the wheelchair?" Charlie then tried to enlightened her through his understanding of the life and independence. Sometimes when he found her in a sad mood, he would tell her some jokes to make her happy. Charlie's salt humor, luxuriant experience and knowledge seemed like a book which could not be finished by just reading it. His optimism and the encourage to face the reality of the paraplegic gave Houlei admiration for him, as well as herself.

Three months later, Charlie asked for a photo from Houlei. Their relationship was getting closer and closer, they were falling in love. They sent several Emails to each other every day, and also talked a couple of hours in the chatroom at a certain time every night. If someday they could not contact each other through Internet, the two of them would feel sad and lost; as if lacking something in their lives. Charlie found he had fallen in love with this Chinese girl. And showed his feelings to her directly with an American straightward character.

With the temperature increasing more and more between them, a kind of of happiness instead of the loneliness set in Houlei. By this Houlei always said to herself happily, "There is one person who is always caring and thinking of me."

Holding Hands, Internet Love Came True
After contacting to each other for one year, there was a little storm.

One day, the Emails she sent out all disappeared. Her parents and brother and including her few friends tried to persuade her that there was something true about the Internet: You could not trust those you met too much. If you did not believe it at the beginning, then you would not feel loss when at the end there was no more. But only in this unreal space had Houlei found a feeling of hope. She would not like to think if it as true or not, after all her life was colorful there, no-one knows how many times she clicked the name "Charlie" everyday. She could sense him as real and present to herself. She insisted on turning the computer on at scheduled times as usual to wait for Charlie's appearence.

In about 4 or 5 days, Charlie sent her a message stating that "His computer had broke-down and was finally just repaired by a friend." Houlei's heart was set at rest.

After one month, Houlei got a letter from Charlie, which read:

"Lei, I am watching TV now, but I can not concentrate on it. You are forever in my thoughts and heart. What are you doing now? From when we started to communicate, I have noticed a kind of fresh feeling in my heart. This is the best feeling one can have in the world! It makes me very happy and excited, and sometimes sad. But it fills me full of hope for our future. Thank you for staying in my thoughts and heart. You are the most beautiful person ever to touch my heart. Love you always Lei!
 Yours forever, Charlie"

On the fourth of June, 2000, Charlie arrived in Beijing by China Air. At the airport two chairs leaned close to each other, two hands in different colors held each other together. Though they had been far apart with the ocean between them and never met each other, they did not feel unfamiliar. "Maybe because of common experiences? or "Maybe because of predeterminate fate?" They felt like old friends at the first meeting, it is predeterminate that all their past frustrations was for their getting together today to create their adorable career and life.

After Getting Married, Foreign Husband Showed Every Possible Consideration

With 26 years' experience in wheelchair, Charlie is a very independent individual. After he settled down, he adapted to the life here as soon as possible, even he has been able to use Chopsticks very well. Charlie is a very considerated American man. He would buy presents for Houlei unexpectedly to bring her suprised happiness. Such as Houlei doesn't know how to do housework, so Charlie takes on much of it. Once, Houlei was frustrated about not having any black polish for her shoes and said to herself, "I need to buy black shoe polish." When she was going through the house the following day, she found the new shoe polish near her black shoes; one day while eating she said casually, "It would be better if there were a little more tomatoes." Then at the next meal she found a special tomato dish. Seeing little things, their sister-in-law stated to Houlei, "Charlie is such a good husband!"

Yes, Charlie's love is from the consideration only mature adults have. At ordinary times, Charlie always compliments Houlei on how beautiful and intelligent she is in front of or behind others. Houlei said it was, "A kind of happy feeling to hear compliments often, and that sometimes she felt as a spoiled princess." She often states to him, "I am to be spoiled, Charlie!"
"No, I will assist you to be independent, just as a so-called able-bodied are completely." Charlie always answers seriously.

After the wedding, Houlei and Charlie had lived with the parents together. The parents took care of their daily life carefully, as this is a Chinese custom. But it made Charlie unhappy and uncomfortable, he had the feeling of losing himself, his independence. So with Charlie's strong suggestion, they bought a house and moved out to start their own and real independent lives.

After being disabled, Houlei had been taken care of very well by her parents. She had never tried to do housework. After they moved out, Charlie has persuaded her to learn to do everything. At first she could not understand, "Why she could not let others take care of her, no matter what she could not walk. If independence meant she had to do everything on her own, that meant her 'happy life' would be broken!" Houlei's mother also could not understand, "Why it seemed she made mistakes while she tried to help them." For this purpose, it was hard to avoid to having quarrals. Charlie's theroy is, "What I can give you would be limited, there are still many contents in your life to fulfill. You must know how to take care of yourself. Make yourself as the same as the so-called able-bodied from all points of your life. The, and only then can you be confident to adapt tothe socity around you and live happily. I had promised you to help you become independent, I will do what I had said."

Charlie is fulfilling his words step by step. Finally, Houlei is understanding that Charlie is the person whose promise will be kept and who could be counted on all her life. The love for Houlei from Charlie is special and self-giving, he is thinking of something for all her life.

It is getting obvious that Charlie's American viewpoints had influnced Houlei little by little. Houlei was changed by Charlie unconsciously, she started to enjoy cooking, washing clothes, doing some housework and inviting friends to their home to serve them as a real partner in a strong marriage. As time passes, Houlei has come out of the shadow of being a disabled person, she is independent! Sometimes more independent and confident then some abled persons! She does not care about other's sights and thoughts, and does not feel inferior to others any more. Charlie and her often takes walks together through the streets themselves, talking and laughing on the way. She is happy for her changes, the happiness adds more feeling for her towards Charlie.

You Here, the World is Getting More Beautiful

There is a proverb in China, "Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder." This is a very suitable proverb to describe Charlie and Houlei.

In Charlie's eyes, Houlei is the most beautiful girl in the world. Charlie has said, "Houlei could operate English classes by herself. It prove she is a capable lady, being her husband, I am the luckest person in the world. In America, people do not feel pity for disabled simply, but support them with opportunities, give them room to develope their independence. Disabled can attend all kinds of social activities without discrimination. There are Miss wheelchair or models' competetions held in diffrent parts of the country often." Charlie has said and believes that, "Houlei would be able to win with her beauty and ability." With this comment he has written to them to consult the details for future opportunities. Charlie's love Houlei and what he told her opened another window for her, let her see disabled people's lives can be colorful and full of dreams. She has discovered many opportunities and hope to try everything new she likes.

At present, it is no problem for Houlei to live by herself, but Charlie still pays a lot of attention to her, such as housework, still Charlie does more. Charlie can cook western food very well, while on holidays, all the family gets together. Charlie can serve all the family and now Houlei's brother wishes to become a student of his to learn to cook. During his free time, Charlie sometimes plays mahjong with Houlei's family. Houlei said, "As long as he feels happy, I am happy, too."

Since Charlie came, Houlei's English classes have added a good helper, with a foreign teacher's help, students' listening and oral English has improved rapidly, they have gained more interests as well. Charlie is humorous, conversable and loves children; they all love him and consider him as a good friend. In November of 2000, they started a private school "Houlei's English School," there are around 500 students in attendance now and growing.

Before when Charlie declared he would go to China in the bar of his hometown, he was laughed by his friends, "Drop everything you have in America to go to China for an Internet fantasy? Leave your family, friends? That's too crazy! Charlie, she will not be there, she is only in the computer!" Now their photos are hanging in the bar in Willow Creek and a restaurant in Hoopa. Everyone of the town knows Charlie has a beautiful and capable Chinese wife and they are presently living happily in China. Their story has become a much-told tale there as well as here in China.

"Houlei" 

Looking for Part One? It's here.