阿爸! 汝愛等我, 汝干單活到一百零六歲，彼時我嘛七十歲了。
Father! you should wait for me. Because you are going to live to be one hundred
and six years old, and at that time I will be seventy years old.
到春尾，汝開始踏入坎坷的晚年，離汝過身干單六個月爾爾。假使三兄若知影汝赫爾早就離開世間，伊是毋是赫堅決欲愛兄弟來分攤艱苦。阿我巴結的對象，嘛開始隨汝的形影轉踅，因為我無法度時常跟綴佇汝的身軀邊，需要靠兄嫂逐家的耐心加孝心 (二十幾冬前無親像現此時的臺灣有外勞通倩(tshiann3), 而且彼陣嘛毋知汝的病就是號做老人痴呆症)。
Where I Can Find My Lost Love
All things on earth cycle between disaster and happiness. One of the happy things in the world is when the sun shines bright and warm and then the plentiful rainwater smoothes the soil. However, one of them becomes disastrous in the world when the thunderstorm sudden flashes at you and attacks all night. As a result, this natural calamity in the universe rips at your soul and body.
And me, I feel so small. I have to deal with moving between the disaster and happiness that always surround my life. What gives me the most happiness? Of course, I wished my parents would have longevity so that I could hum my love forever to them. Love’s joy sings like the sunny quiet of the morning upon the lovely garden whose colorful flowers are finished. In fact, I adored my parents so much that I couldn’t stand losing them forever.
Unfortunately, twenty years ago my mother deprived me of half my happiness, because she suddenly ended her life. And now, my father has left me forever. Love’s pain sang around my life like a knife with many blades.
In ancient times, there was a devoted daughter. Her father was drowned in the ocean. Thus she not only cried endlessly day and night, but she also swore wholeheartedly that she would avenge her farher’s death in the ocean. Even though she died before the fulfillment of her aspiration, she became a bird and she continually carried rocks in her mouth to fill up the ocean to end its existence. Of course, she failed in her attempt at revenge because her tiny form couldn’t carry enough rocks to fill the huge ocean.
Once I tearfully told this daughter’s story to you, Father! At that time your forced smile was saying, “Although you are already both a wife and mother, you still never grew up.”
“So long as you wait for me, everything will be perfect.” I said seriously.
“Wait for you to do what?” You were worried.
“Of course, you should wait for me. Because you are going to live to be one hundred and six years old, and at that time I will be seventy years old.” Touching the issue of death, I started to sob.
“How on earth can it happen?!” You objected to my impossible demands.
“In that case, I consider living to this age is sufficient. I can go with you wherever you go even if it is a place of hell.” I not only rejected your objection, but I also hooked our fingers together to seal the deal with you.
At last, you were silent and gave a deep sigh, after you carefully observed your mournful daughter. In fact, your silence showed me that we had made a promise to each other.
Wasn’t it a deal Father? You couldn’t break your promise, like you broke your promise twenty years ago when you promised to build a hut for me to live beside my mother’s grave. Otherwise, I couldn’t easily follow you to come back home and let my mother live alone in a desolate mountain. That sorrowful scene is still distinct in my mind. You should not be able to forget.
You often talked to your friends about my unusual action. You were serious that you strongly needed to live, or else. It was true, knowing your daughter, Father, you knew that you owed a great deal to me. You had to let your daughter enjoy your long-lived love. You had no choice but to accept it. Moreover, a Taiwanese Saint also left us a lesson, “Adore your parents forever.”
As I grew older, even though I became more open-minded and I came to a better understanding of the variability of things in life, I still couldn’t stand any heavy wind and rain. For example, the tree wants to remain quiet, but the winds won’t stop; the child wants to give back the parental love and care she received, but the parents aren’t alive. What happens to this mood? Is love a wild fire that burns out the loving heartstrings?
When you were bedridden Father, you often said these words, “All flesh is grass that has either grown up or fallen down.” Coming to the end of your life, did you feel helpless?
After you struggled with painful sickness, sometimes you would mutter to yourself, “I have lived in this world enough, I could go.” But Father! Didn’t you remember promising to wait for me until we could go together? You shouldn’t go anywhere without me to accompany you.
However, there were several curious coincidences; I knew that you already did your personal best. For example, if I went somewhere far away from home, you would have trouble. Sadly, this kind-of-hearts-together father and daughter relationship created a cruel destiny of heartbreak.
In general, I didn’t go too far away from home when you were seriously ill. But I am reminded about your words that I should complete my own duty, which was my filial obligation. Therefore, many times I went somewhere to take care of my business even when you were dangerously ill.
The first time I brought your granddaughter to Taipei for her musical examination. On the train, I suddenly heard a message, “Lee Hsiu, your family has an emergency. Please go home as soon as possible.” My response was like a train running at full speed. I imagined the dreaded possibility of being impeded by a horrible accident, and I being one of the victims that was crushed by it.
Afterward I heard that you had almost no breath and also were wearing a shroud. There was family all around your sickbed, but only your daughter was absent. Therefore, feeling my absence, with great difficulty you found breath enough to wait for me.
Although you were in a serious car accident three years ago, you still could turn danger into safety. Because of this, I supposed you had strong vitality. If I knew one day you would leave me forever, I wouldn’t have focused so much on my children instead of attending to you.
The second time, I went to Taipei to take your grandson to another musical school. This time I heard the situation was more urgent than before. The doctor had already announced that you were almost lifeless. Your sons - my brothers – shouted at you sobbingly, “Papa! You cannot go. Ahtsu (my nickname) hasn’t come back yet. You need to wait for her…”
Even though you were delivered to the intensive care unit, you suffered through a terrible ordeal of oxygen deficiency for about three hours. However, my courageous father, your pulse still miraculously beat. Surely, you were not fully conscious, but you clearly called my full name Lee Hsiu when I appeared at your bedside. You stretched out your bony hand to hold me - the skinny hand that had ever resisted the strong wind and heavy rain to protect our family from harm for a long time.
Gloomy was the day, the light under frowning clouds was like a punished child with traces of tears on her pale cheeks, and the cry of the wind was like the cry of a wounded world. I wanted to wait for the morning and wake up to see your face in the bright light because I always trusted that you would be fine.
As the days went on, I was still going away to do my business. The third time, I went to take a university examination. After that, I went to a temple to appeal to some magical power to help my sick father. However, the earth hadn’t even turned to the next day when suddenly I received the heartrending news that forced me to take a look at the line between life and death. How could I understand and accept this sorrow that felt like an eclipse of the sun and the moon at the same time?
Even though destiny as a rule is ever-changing, it can imperceptibly arrange something for the future. For example, Penghu is the island where you were born. While you were taking your last breath, this hometown was attacked by the havoc of typhoon Waian and completely destroyed in one day. Undoubtedly, your weakened condition couldn’t endure those tyrannical winds and rains on the island which was as close as flesh and blood to you. You waited for your daughter to finish her duties, and then you stopped struggling with your illness.
Cool moon, lone star, chilly wind, frosty dew, how can a person live in this universe without the sun and the moon? Even though my father died just as the spring silkworm dies when his silk spinning comes to an end, our everlasting love continues forever.
On a chilly morning, my four brothers together carried your tablet and bent down in front of your grave. The priest’s bell rang out in his hand; its sound expressing the eternity of filial duty. I hoped this ceremony would comfort Father’s spirit and enable him to roam him freely in heaven. But the suddenly barren world on earth was actually a sadder tale for my family.
There is a saying, “Long illness doesn’t have the loyal children.” Indeed, sibling rivalry arose from the responsibility of looking after Father. Fortunately, you arranged your property very well so that there wasn’t any dispute. Even though you were so lenient, you still were difficult to run away from during the melancholy illness in your later years.
Another time of misery began one autumn day. You had been living with your third son for more than twenty years, until the last year your senile dementia got worse. You lost control of your bodily functions and totally lost your memory. Often you wanted to see friends even as late as midnight. But actually those friends had already died many years ago.
When I met third sister-in-law, she complained tearfully to me about your deteriorated situation. I did understand her mood. You had four sons, why did all the responsibilities of looking after you fall only to the third son? Of course, it was unfair. Moreover, third brother had these words, “There is a senior in our family, and likewise there is a treasure in our family.” His words gradually disappeared as he grew more tired from always looking after Father.
Until wintertime that year, you started to walk a rough life when you needed to live with different sons to look after you. I wonder if third brother had known you would pass away after six months, would he have insisted on his other brothers sharing the responsibilities for you?
I complimented the brothers, who gave consideration to you, and I followed you each time you moved to a different brother, because I was a married daughter who couldn’t be beside you at all times and places. You really needed your sons and daughters-in-law to be patient and have filial piety.
When you must leave the place where you were living for a long time, you feel anxious and unwilling to go to another place. My dear Father! How could you deal with going to a different place while struggling with your extreme illness?
The first place was with your second son. Although your mind was clouded, you still had to constantly go back to your original place in your mind. Actually, you were looked after by a special nurse in the daytime and your grandsons took turns taking care of you at night. However, peace was often disturbed at the place where you were living, because you couldn’t settle down anyplace except at your third son’s place. Thus, second brother and sister-in-law lost their patience. Moreover, they even argued with you about the portion of property they would receive after your death.
What on earth is this world coming to? Our parents willingly diapered us when we were kids, yet we are unwilling to diaper our parents when they need help. Sibling rivalry arose from attendance on your severe illness. God! Can you please tell me if our survival is such a crushing burden for you that my father had to rely on his sons to stay alive?
My husband, your son-in-law, admired my brothers who gave so much attention to you. How much my husband adored you was good for you – he was so kind to you that I had this marvelous idea that you and he were father and son in a previous generation.
My first brother, your first son, left you so distressed and furious that you weren’t willing to see him again after he foolishly lost a lot of money gambling and didn’t care how this hurt his family. But finally even though your mind was dim you realized you missed him. In fact, he came back in front of your sickbed with his gray hair, still ashamed of his wrong action when he was young. You didn’t recognize him, but you could still recall his nickname. This kind of father and son meeting - is it happy or miserable?
In the hospital, doctors, nurses and other patients all envied your good fortune, because of your descendants’ filial piety. Father! What did this say? What was the difference between filial piety and unfilial piety, fortune and misfortune? I think only a very fine line separates them. Perhaps I did ask too much of my brothers because of my extreme idealization of you?
Indeed, in the hospital, there is not much distance between the delivery room and the morgue. But, why do we need to walk such a long time and find it so difficult to take the few steps of life? Was it as you said, “The most distant road is inside yourself.”
It is true, the idea of reincarnation is a puzzling issue. Thinking about how everything recurs as we have already experienced it, we can see that the recurrence itself will repeat forever. For example, in most lives, people argue with each other about their ideas until they grow weary of defending themselves and their lives come to an end. At this time the world is becoming silent. On the other hand, we can already hear the crying of babies yet to come into this world. These babies will argue about their ideas, thus repeating the cycle.
In general, you will suffer if you are a person of inflexible willpower. The more persistent we are, the more suffering we undergo. The more suffering we experience, the more helpless we feel. If you studied Buddhism, you would learn to accept suffering, and then be better able to solve your problems – you would be resolving one the biggest trials of life.
So we must accept suffering because it is inevitable; we must solve suffering, because accepting suffering doesn’t mean being weak or frail; we tolerate suffering, because we have gained great wisdom from compassionate strength.
Even though you had a decent funeral which was arranged by my brothers, I thought it would have been more important for them to give you more love and attention while you were alive. Now they offer you so much food that you don’t need any more. Indeed, when you were alive, you couldn’t have a happy life while you were ill, so there was nothing useful about gifts from your sons after your death.
However, even as you said, “No one can be a saint or sage, so no wonder everyone makes mistakes.” Surely, your words gave me not only a way to resolve suffering, but also a way to forgive my brothers for their neglect of you.
Going through the funeral rites for parents and the worship of ancestors, my brothers decided it would be good to move our grandparents, and mother’s tomb from Fu-Ding-Jin to Shen-Shui where buried, so you could enjoy family happiness.
Behind your cemetery ground of Shen-Shui was an elders’ home where several old weak people lived together low-spiritedly under the dark light. They sat there helplessly among mosquitoes and flies. My dear Father! In comparison with these lonely old men, you were luckier because you had a lot of descendants revolving around your grave. On the other hand, even though these old people are so lonely, they can breathe, they can feel, they can touch, they can love. But you can no longer keep in touch and I miss your love.
Now that my vision is decreasing and my body is exhausted, I really adore each person who dies and is cremated, because I feel it brings me closer to you. Otherwise, how can I find you? How can I keep in touch with you?
You disappeared calmly leaving a scar on the Waian Penghu Island where you had picked up the sea shells for me; you disappeared calmly, but how could I fill the void of the sea shells which you gave me? The Waian of water and sky are still blue and gorgeous, but Father! I feel the sadness of the color blue…