Los Angeles - Last week in the US
Aug 2, 2008
This was our last week in the US. It's hard to believe that almost 6 months had passed and we'll be heading back to China. We are looking forward to be back home in Kunming but also feel at loss of the experiences and people we'll leave behind here.
Given it was our last week, we tried to see relatives and friends as much as we can in the midst of homeschooling and packing. On Sunday, after the reunion, we visited Jon's cousin Teresa to see her new born baby of just over a month. We also met up with Ben & Lisa at Cerritos Library, which was the most extravagent library we have ever seen. The libray was elegantly decorated, full of spaces for reading, outside water playground, and has a wall aquarium, dinasour sculture, jungle motif in the Children section. We also went to Jon's uncle's home for a night swim as the children have been yearning to go even while they were in China. We also got to see Paul, Jack, and Ziyin.
During a homeschooling break after lunch, the children together with their cousin Phoebe went to Chucky Cheese, a kid's oriented meal & arcade place. They had so much fun playing with the various games. These was a machine that can create sketch like photo. So all four of them look a sketch picture to remember each other.
After living for almost a month together in grandparent's home, sleeping together on the floor of living room, the children found it hard to say goodbye to their cousin Phoebe, the only child of Willis and Jocelyn. Phoebe was also very sad as she usually had no one else to play at home. Joani and Phoebe were especially close since they went to Top Kids Summer School and Vacation Bible School together. When saying goodbye, they hugged each other, shed tears, and did not want to leave. What made it easier was that they both have a Webkinz stuff animals which allows their stuff animal to send gifts and notes to each other on the internet.
Living for almost two months in LA, the children also got to know their grandparents much better. Given Jon's mom's birthday was coming up, Olivia took the lead in organizing them to make a quilt for grandma. They did everything themselves and worked in the car, during vacation, during breaks to finish it before they left LA. Finally, minutes before leaving for the airport, Olivia presented the birthday gift to grandma.
The hardest goodbye, however, was saying goodbye to Jon's grandfather or the children's great grandfather. Grandpa is 94 and has been confined in Nursing home for that last year, relying on a feeding tube for intake of food. For the past 6 months, his condition has been up and down. Given it will be another two years before we will be back in the US, it is almost certain that this will be the last goodbye. It was hard. Remembering back to all the wonderful memories we had together, the love he lavished upon us, and his constant prayers for us, it was hard to accept that we won't see him again, barring a miracle. During this last visit, grandpa prayed for us, blessed us, and asked God for protection while we are in China. We will always hold on this moment.
Thanks to George, he drove a van and took us to the airport for a farewell. The children hugged grandma as they said their last goodbye and headed back to China.
P.S. (9 days later on Aug 11th, Grandpa passed away peacefully. Below is something I wrote for the funeral)
It was heartbreaking to see my grandfather lying on the convalescent bed. He has a tube into his stomach for food and a tube for his urine. He laid on an inflatable mattress to relief the pain from the sores on his body. He no longer could hear.
Looking at his past photos one day, I was surprised at how lively and mobile he looked just few years ago. I almost forgot that he used to be young, sporty, and had travelled all over the world. He often told me while staying at my mom’s house that he was thankful that he could still take care of himself even at over ninety years old. Then all of a sudden he went into the hospital and never came back home again.
My grandfather and I were close. When I was still young and living in Taipei, I looked forward to our yearly visit. He would buy me candies and bring me to fun places to play. During high school, when my sister and I moved to live with my uncle in Boston, he stayed with us for 3 months to help us adjust. During college, I would stay in his house in Kaoshiung when I was back in Taiwan for the summers. For most of the last 20 years after he moved to the US, grandfather lived in my old room and slept on my old bed.
In 1991 when I came back to visit him in Kaoshiung, he was just recovering from his first stroke. It was my first realization that we never know when it would be the last time we would see each other. So I wrote him a letter to express my love and appreciation for him while he is living, instead of at his funeral. (The letter is attached at the end) When I was young, Grandpa took care of me. I am glad that when Grandpa had a stroke, I took care of him.
Many times grandpa and I would sit together on his bed in my mom’s house. He would wonder to himself why God allowed him to live so long given that he doesn’t do regular exercise or watch the way he eats. “Ah Jon, “ he would say to me. “I believe God let me live so long so that I can pray for all of you.”
On Aug 2nd, a week before he passed away, we visited him for the last time on the day we were to fly back to China. The last time we left for China, he stood by the doorway of the house and waved goodbye. This time, he laid in bed. We had a feeling that it would be the last time we would see him. I sat beside him, looking at him and him looking at me, both in silence.
This time, as it was during the last few times we visited, he prayed and blessed me and my family. This was what he prayed, “上帝你的大慈愛和憐憫，主啊我們在世上的日子有上帝真正的教導， 可以過得很好，求你與我同在，使我得到你的恩典平安，他們要出國去外國，求主你也保守他們平安，靠主的聖名禱告，阿門.” (Translate: “The God of great love and mercy, during our days in the world, may we receive the true teaching from You so that we may live well. Please be with me. Let me receive your grace and peace. They will be traveling to overseas. Pray that you also grant them peace. In God’s holy name I pray, Amen.”)
Even at ninety-three years old, immobile, in pain, and now in heaven, my grandfather’s prayer has been and will be with me wherever I go.
Today, my mom called and said grandpa has passed away. When we were in China, Joani, my 6-year old daughter for the last 12 months would without us prompting faithfully pray during meals for God to make great-grandpa well. Seeing how he is suffering in the hospital bed, two weeks ago, she changed the prayer to let grandpa go to heaven. God listened to the simple prayer of a child.
I will miss him very much.
Ah Jon (Jonathan)
August 11, 2008