Matt Furey is one of my role models and virtual mentors. Today’s email message from Matt is about gratitude. Thank you Matt!
Saying Good-bye (with Gratitude)
On December 1, 1998, my wife’s parents came to the United States for a six-month visit. The visit ended up lasting nearly 17 years, during which time Wai Po and Wai Gong (Chinese for grandparents on the mother’s side) took several trips back to their homeland in China, to keep up with the changes.
Less than a month ago, due to their age and the possibility of health difficulties manifesting, they decided it was time to return to the Big Country. It was an agonizing decision because none of us wanted them to leave – nor did they – but ultimately, they want to be back in China when they take their last breath on this earthly plane, so it’s for the best.
For the past two weeks all of us were counting the days. Last night, it really started to hurt. I could sense how they cherished every single moment with us; how they looked forward to cooking us one last meal; doing the dishes, having one more conversation in our home; watching me write in my journal or practice tai chi; seeing our children doing homework; seeing them exercise, even, as odd as it may sound, taking out the garbage for the final time.
True story, just before getting in the car to go to the airport, Wai Gong (grandpa) insisted on putting the trash receptacles on the street for pick-up. Yes, he even savored taking out the trash. Talk about having a spirit of gratitude.
One last time.
At 5:15 A.M.
When I hugged Wai Po (grandma) I automatically began to thank her for all she’s done for our family for the past 17 years. She interrupted me to thank ME for all I’d done for her and her husband for the same period of time. I was stunned – so was she, I think. Neither of us could say, “You’re welcome.” We couldn’t even think such words. We could only feel a deep sense of thanksgiving for each other and to express it with xie xie ni (thank you).
As Wai Po and Wai Gong got into the car to go to the airport, I told my son and daughter to stand with me and maintain eye contact as long as possible. See them off in grand style. Don’t just turn around and walk away. This is a moment to remember for the rest of your lives. Your grandparents are going back to China, to stay – and the only way we’ll see them again is when we go there ourselves.
I realize it’s nine days early for a Thanksgiving message, but the truth is everyday is an opportunity to be thankful. Each day is a day to count your blessings, to go through your life and cherish the best moments; to be grateful for the life you get to live, the people you get to meet and the opportunities that come your way.
Savor your life’s experiences. Love your family and friends – and forgive your enemies.
The present moment is all you have.
Live in the NOW, aware of every breath, conscious of as much detail as possible in all there is to experience.
Realize how all moments must pass, and will.
Even the most beloved will come into our lives, and eventually go. It may not be easy when they depart, but this “coming and going” is an unmistakeable law of living.
As for our memories, we can hold them near and dear to our hearts. Doing so invigorates us and keeps up healthy. Keep in mind that withIn sadness lies happiness, within sorrow their is joy and within emptiness you will find substance and meaning – provided you are looking for it.
Adjusting to life in our home without Wai Po and Wai Gong will take some time – especially after almost 17 years of being with each other. Ah, the lessons I learned by being immersed, perennially, in Chinese culture, are gifts I shall treasure forever.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.