As a child, An-Mei lived with her grandmother, Popo. An-Mei's mother was not welcome in the home because she had married a man who already had other wives. An-Mei's mother had tried before to retrieve An-Mei when An-Mei was young, but got into an argument with Popo. During the argument, hot soup was knocked over and spilled onto An-Mei's neck, restricting her breathing. An-Mei miraculously survived, but was left with a scar. Later, when Popo became ill, An-Mei's mother returned again to care for Popo. Popo, weakened by her illness, allowed An-Mei's mother to tend to her. An-Mei's mother then cut a bit of flesh from her arm and fed it to Popo to help her get better. An-Mei witnesses this, and years later recollects, "Even though I was young, I could see the pain of the flesh and the worth of the pain."