Yee Sui-Kam was born in a small village in Toisan, China. She was the next youngest out of 4 brothers and 4 sisters. When she was seven years old, her mother passed away. Her father, Bing Chung Yee, owned a herb store in Guangzhou and he passed away as the result of the Communist confiscating the business and torturing him.
Soon after, she went to live with her eldest sister and her growing family, which eventually included six children – five girls, one boy, and their maid. Although she was technically their aunt, Sui-Kam instantly became a mother figure to the younger children, as well as a sister figure to the older children who were closer to her in age.
Because Sui-Kam’s sister’s family was considered to be landlords, the Communists punished the family by forcing the older children and adults to work in the rice fields. Food was also restricted and the family had to witness many terrible things. Despite these hard times, Sui-Kam and her nieces have only fond memories of their childhood because they grew up together in such a loving family. All of the children had fun going to school, playing together, and looking after one another. As a teenager, Sui-Kam grew into a beautiful young woman.
After paying the Communists a lot of money to buy their freedom, half of the family was allowed to move to Guangzhou. However, Sui-Kam and two of her younger nieces were left behind in the village. While still young herself, she took care of them with help from the older uncles and aunties. Eventually, they were permitted to leave the village and happily reunited with the rest of the family in a big apartment in Guangzhou. Time spent in Guangzhou was filled with some of the happiest memories for the family. One time, the girls spent days trying to figure out why it smelled so badly in their apartment. They finally discovered that a dead rat had been decomposing underneath their bed! Being the kind and selfless aunt that she was, Sui-Kam single-handedly cleaned up the dead rat and live worms for her nieces.
Eventually, the entire family moved to Hong Kong and escaped Communist rule. The family had to split up and make their way to Hong Kong a few family members at a time, and once again, Sui-Kam was one of the last to leave Guangzhou. However, once in Hong Kong, life was filled with much adventure and excitement for Sui-Kam and the two older nieces. As young women, they enjoyed the freedom of this big city and had so much fun attending school, going to the movies, taking sewing classes, and going on camping trips with their friends.
Sui-Kam’s sister’s husband was eventually able to secure VISAs for his wife and children to immigrate to America. Unfortunately, Sui-Kam did not have the proper documentation which meant she was unable to join the family this time around. It was a heartbreaking moment for both Sui-Kam and her nieces. Her nieces did not want to be separated from their beloved aunt and sister they had grown up with their entire lives. Because they did not want to abandon Sui-Kam alone in Hong Kong, the relatives found her a suitable husband to marry. While the rest of the family moved to the United States, Sui-Kam moved to Honduras to embark on a new journey of her own. For many years, she worked hard in the mom-and-pop grocery store that she and her husband owned and raised two wonderful and loving sons, Gene and Victor. While she was geographically far apart from her nieces, Sui-Kam remained close with the family and would visit them often in California with her boys. Her sons were also educated and went to college in the US and were very close to the family. After Sui-Kam and her husband retired from the family business in Honduras, they moved to Sacramento in 1985 to live with their sons. Sui-Kam helped raise two lovely grandchildren, Gabriela and Lauren; who were her pride and joy.
In Lieu of Flowers Please Consider Donating to
The Chinese United Methodist Church Located at 2470 28th Ave Sacramento, CA 95822