Author and Christian meditation expert Elizabeth Chiu King was born to a beautiful Chinese socialite whose polarizing personality fortuitously shaped King’s career and journey to personal fulfillment.
“Mom was the mistress of the household,” King said. “She left the child raising to the amah (nanny). My mom was never affectionate and she never really affirmed me.”
In her 2016 memoir, “The Good Chinese Daughter,” King recounts details of her life from her childhood in Shanghai to 2002.
“People (in China) were very simple, but Shanghai was very cosmopolitan.”
King remembers her mother as a rigid narcissist who divorced her biological father and hesitatingly gave birth to her before remarrying. Later King learned that her stepfather was not her biological father.
Despondent over her mother’s apathy toward her, King’s turned to her amah for affection and affirmation. She also taught her how to cook.
“My amah was a born chef,” she said. “I learned a lot from her.”
Consequently, King has published multiple cookbooks, including “The 15 Minute Chinese Gourmet,” “A Wok a Week-52 Lite and Easy Meals,” and “Eating the Chinese Way in Detroit.”
The Chinese Civil War is what ultimately changed the trajectory of King’s life.
“When the war broke out, our home was burned down,” she said. “We lost almost everything. We had two things: my mom had buried her jewelry in the ground and dad had some back pay. We didn’t have much, but we had enough.”
In 1955, King’s family immigrated to the United States and settled in San Francisco. Without household help, King’s mom enlisted her to be her right hand.
“I was her helper. I would get everything ready for her. Cooking became my hobby and my salvation.”
King went on to study at the University of Hong Kong, the University of San Francisco, Berkeley and the University of Michigan. At the University of Hong Kong, she met Albert, who later became her husband.
After graduation, King returned to California. Albert accepted a position at Wayne State University in Detroit, and the two began corresponding. They were married soon after and settled in Bloomfield Hills, where they raised two sons.
King had turned to Christian mediation to cope with unresolved feelings toward her mother, who passed away in 2014 at the age of 102.
Today, she is a missionary who shares the benefits of Christian mediation all over the world. She even once met the Dalai Lama.
“I’ve been going back (to China) every year for the last 15 years,” she said. “With so much noise, people need inner peace.”
Currently, she is working on the sequel to her memoir, “The Good Chinese Daughter.” The second memoir will take readers from her life in 2002 to today. King’s books are all available on Amazon.
Through her work and spiritual practices, King has overcome resentment and feelings of inadequacy. Her journey was arduous, but the adversity made her a better wife, mother and person.
“We have two sons and seven grandchildren. I am more affectionate. I show them love and support. I accept them.”
Photo: Laurie Tennent