If there’s anything that is more valuable than money that you can offer to the people/things you love, it would be time. Once time is spent, you can’t get it back. Great artists honed their skills by spending tremendous amount of time on their craft. Day in, day out, they would make something everyday, or try out a new technique until they get the hang of it. And when they’ve mastered the technique, they would make more products in order to stretch the limits of their skill and knowledge. As for people, we spend time with family and friends to strengthen our bond with them. We talk and hang out with them to know more about their daily lives, and from there we maintain the emotional connection. The more time we spend with them, the more we value our relationships.
Spending time doing things you love, whether it’s a simple task like reading, cooking, or cleaning the house, is very important—not only for others, but also for yourself. It is when you’ve accepted that you like doing a certain routine, activity, or people, that you realize what kind of person you are. You also discover your values, ideals, and priorities. After you’ve spent time with someone or something, memories will be what you will mostly remember, not precisely the amount of time you spent. Yes, occasionally you would remember how long you’ve talked on the phone with your family, but the fact that you did something with someone/something you love is what really matters. In relationships, other people will remember you for what good (or bad) you’ve done for them, no matter how small a gesture it is.
It’s also when you spend time with things or people you love that you feel a little bit of happiness, even momentarily. We may not feel happy all day every single day, but I think it’s also good to do something for yourself that makes you happy—whether it’s chatting with high school friends you haven’t talked to for months, reading a fiction novel in two hours, or having dinner and movie date with the occasionally annoying siblings. Even doing things that may not necessarily cause immediate happiness (i.e. doing house chores or going to work)—we should also do it. It gives us a sense of accomplishment, and keeps us going everyday. It’s a reminder that we’re alive, and we still have a purpose in this world.
Indeed, I believe that we’re living in the world for a certain purpose—it’s just that we don’t know that exact purpose. So we live on… struggling with life, living with family and friends, coping with work stress…. it definitely has something to do with finding out the purpose of our life.
For the past week, I’ve heard of many stories of how people remembered my grandmother. And it got me thinking about why and how that happens, but the only thing I could think of was that people remember different things about a single person, object, or place because of how they interacted with them. With my grandmother’s case, people had only positive things to say about her, and I learned so many things about her that I never knew before.
As I was growing up, my dad and one of my aunts (姑姑) would occasionally tell me stories of the hardships they went through when they were younger, as well as stories of how their mother struggled to support all her children. My siblings and I were not particularly close with our grandmother, so we seldom had the opportunity to talk about her history (and my being an introvert didn’t help). Little did we know that our grandmother could not read nor write, as she didn’t have the opportunity to go to school and study. But she did odd jobs to make ends meet, in order to send her children to school. She was very frugal, preferring to walk long distances just to save a few cents (which, back then, was quite valuable already). And then when her husband, our father’s father, fell ill due to cancer, she took good care of him. Our grandmother proved her commitment and love for her family for so many years, we just didn’t realize it.
Her most important legacy, I believe, is her faith. Many (if not all) who spoke and shared their memories of our grandmother during the wake mentioned our grandmother’s consistence and persistence in serving others. She had a really good heart; she loved to serve others in whatever capacity she can. And one of the things we’ll miss most would be her cooking. For years, she had served members of the church with her cooking, when she got involved in preparing food for the canteen in the old campus of my primary and secondary school. Our grandmother occasionally contributed food for the lunch meetings of the women’s fellowship of the church. In addition, she was known to be a steadfast prayer warrior for the church, that despite her old age and physical ailments, she would remember to pray for the church, her family, and for the unbelievers.
Our grandmother also lived very simply. Everyone in our nuclear and extended family knew of her penchant to wear her favorite old, rose-colored and loose-fitting dress, even during family celebrations. Even when people gave her new clothes and accessories, she would refuse to use them unless all her children will ask her to dress up for formal occasions. When my cousin or my aunt would send their family driver to bring our grandmother to church or to their house, our grandmother would refuse and insist on walking despite the hot and sunny weather outside. She also preferred staying home to rest, to listen to the radio, to read the Bible, and to cook for the family. When she does go out, it was to attend church service or women’s fellowship, go to the wet market, or to visit old acquaintances.
There are still a lot more things I can tell (mostly based on what people shared during the wake) about my grandmother, but what I wish to emphasize is that love can mean differently to different persons. There are so many factors that influences how people define love, as well as how they show it, but for my grandmother, she chose to exhibit her love through caring for others (sometimes even more than herself). Her countless acts of kindness to everyone and her service for the Lord would be remembered for years to come, and that’s why I feel so blessed to have such a wonderful kin. The Lord certainly looked after my grandmother and our family for so long, even up to my grandmother’s last moments.