What is Most Important in Life?
What is most important to me? Good health, family and volunteering...and friendship.This year, I was able to fulfill many of my wishes.
- Aug. 2017
- organized a reunion of old teammates
- organized a reunion of old colleagues
- Reconnect with a friend after 30 years.
- Attend a 90th birthday of one of my dearest aunt.
- help CCNY fencing team
- create a personal digital archive
- create a photobook
- spend some time with my elderly Irish Godmother
- Help some friends learn about investing
- help my step mom move
- attend the wedding of one of my neice
- digitize my photo albums
My third aunt is turning 90 this year. She is one of my favorite aunt. She lives in Taipei with one of her son's family. Our history goes back 65 years. Growing up in Taiwan, we were next door neighbors. My mom and my brother was living with our grand uncle at the time. My dad had immigrated to the US to study and later to work. We were left in Taiwan for about 5 years waiting for our immigration visa. My aunt and her husband and 3 sons were living next door to us. She and my mom were the best of friends. They would help each other and play mah jong with the neighbors. The kids were about the same ages. We played together and were treated as members of each other's family. That was how close we were.
My aunt was a great influence. She has a cheery disposition and always willing to help. Very generous with her time and her money. She was the ultimate den mother and treated all members of our extended family with respect and care. Especially our elderly grand uncles and aunts. She would pay them visits weekly and bring them food and stuff and help when she could with chores. She did all this willingly and with a smile on her face. It was never an obligation with her.
When we immigrated to the US when I was 10 years old, we lost touch for a while. It was during my college years when I went back to Taiwan for a summer vacation. It was a program instituted by the Chinese government to invite overseas chinese students to come for a visit, all expenses paid. It was a great program and it still exists today. The program was a four weeks course filled with classes and tours of the island. I decided to stay an extra two weeks afterwards to spend some time with my aunt. She organized a tour along with her family to visit one of our relative in Hualien. It was a wonderful trip. I still have pictures of that trip. It is no exaggeration that she treated me as one of her own sons. I felt so welcomed and at home that trip in the summer of 1970.
My next visit was long in the making. I graduated college and worked at IBM. It was in 1997 where I made my next trip back to Taiwan. This time it was for work. We were doing a project with the National Palace Museum, a joint effort with our IBM Taiwan office. I was there to install some scanning equipment and perform some training for the local staff. On that trip, I was able to pay a visit to my aunt who still lives in Taipei. She was so proud of my accomplishments. Over the years, I had gotten married and had 3 of my own kids. She treated my family as her family. In this time, her own sons had gotten married. She was the rock of her family. She made a point to be friends with all three of her daughter-in-laws. They respect her and are willing to help her along with her three sons. She was the ideal mother-in-law. From what I can tell, she always did the right thing and did not allow her bias to show in any way. She treated everyone equally and did not show any favoritism.
My next trip came two years later. I was invited to give a speech at a conference on digital library. This time, I brought my wife along for the trip. My aunt was so happy and welcoming. She treated my wife so well and made her a member of her family. This was the first time they met face to face. That is just how she is. My wife was so impressed with her.
The next story is not so pleasant. It involved a close relative who had been living in Taiwan for quite a while. After graduating college, he worked at an international corp. and rose to be the head of Asian operations. He was working out of the Taipei office. He later was hired by a German company also having an Asian office in Taipei. At this time, he decided to start his own business of laser surgery clinics. In any case, the business was good but it was also competitive. After a while, his business started to wane and he made some poor financial decisions which lead to the filing for chapter 11. In order to try and save his company, he went into debt and owe a lot of money to some unscrupulous people. In the end, he had to give up and was held captive.
This is where my aunt came to the rescue. I don't know all the detail but she was able to muster various people from her family and spent a lot of money to rescue him and bring him back to the US via China. She basically saved his life. That is the kind if person she is. She is there for you not only during the good times but in bad times.
My youngest son, in 2012, also took that tour to Taiwan. He had a great time and also was treated well by my aunt and her sons. My son's only regret was he did not speak the language and was not able to communicate with them so well. It didn't matter to my aunt. She was happy to have him there and just knowing he is my son.
The moral of the story is this. What is most important in your life?
It is your family. The whole extended family. My third aunt is the epitome of an ideal family. She acted selfless all her life, serving others and being cheerful along the way. Her three sons along with their wives and 6 grandchildren are all going to be there for her 90th birthday. You can bet I will be there as well and my youngest son decided on his own to join us. That is the kind of impact this women had on all of us.
She is a bit frail in her old age and signs of early dementia. However, she will be glad to see all of us and welcome us with open arms.
I could not think of a birthday gift to buy her. At this stage of her life, she doesn't really need or desire anything. I came up with the idea of creating a family album with some very old photos from my collection. Some goes back more than 3 generations from my father. Even though her short memory is not very good now, she will remember these old family photographs from her youth.
When I presented this to her, her face lit up. It brought up old memories. Our family members all gathered around and exchanged stories...trying to guess when, where, and who in these photos. It was a blessing that so many of us can gathered half way around the world. It is what family and life is all about. Making each other happy.
© 2017 Jack Lee