“Your son is amazing. And I want to meet his parents,” so said a vivacious young man standing next to our S and in came his hand through the car window, shaking my wife’s and my hand in turn forcefully.
The scene was along Inner Road just before the junction with SW 13th St in the UF Campus. The occasion, just after our son’s Math class at 3.50pm yesterday when we were there to take him back to Tampa for the Thanksgiving holidays.
This is the very first time that a peer of one of our children has complimented one of our children so openly to our face, one made so joyously and without reservations. Since joining UF this past Fall as a freshman and staying in Hume Hall, we kind of surmised our S has continued his tradition of helping fellow classmates while in High School ( we know that for a fact as we have his High School Year Book, or the rather hilarious scribbling imprinted thereon by his friends) and has made a great bunch of friends both in class and in the residence hall (including his knitting cohorts).
But this is totally unexpected, a completely pleasant surprise. So if you could pardon the exuberance of a pair of proud parents, thanks, Peter Hong, for making our day.
But, there is more. Outside Hume Hall, our S emerged from his dorm and handed over a box of gift to his Mom. You see, yesterday was my wife’s birthday. And our S remembered. And he knew what kind of gift that would make his Mom happy: a boxful of chocolate. And from Godiva, the Chocolatier people, at that.
All our children have said “Happy Birthday” to their Mom, either through telephones (from Malaysia and Oregon) and in person. The greetings have also come from her siblings in Australia and Malaysia.
Buddhism emphasizes filial piety to the parents, and mutual love and respect among the siblings, as the foundation and necessary condition to fostering a just society, a well-administered nation, and a peaceful world.
When we first moved here three years ago, we were apprehensive that the Asian ala Buddhist values that we have tried to instill in our children, both by word and by deed, could have a chance of being usurped by some of the less than desirable Western values such as hedonism and individuality at its extreme.
However, actual development has proved that these concerns are unfounded. The years spent in constantly imbuing them with the right values patterned after the Confucian school since young have left a deep-seated imprint in their psyche that they are able to hold steadfast to them while exposed to the incessant bombardment of western culture on a daily basis: through TV, through newspapers, and through personal encounters.
The best part is they have absorbed the good that the western culture has to offer: standing up to one’s views and conviction. In a typical Asian home, it used to be unimaginable that a son/daughter will dare to express his/her counter views, less so using the same tone of voice of the elders. My children are a living proof that time has changed (perhaps they have inherited a “less-than-obedient” streak from me as I had walked out once from my “at times overbearing” father in a moment of heightened agitation; but I’ve never loved my father less for that).
Now we have to reason with them, and that’s what it will take to change their views. No more talking down, no more “do as I say”. And the good part is I’ve no problem with that.
On the drive home, we were greeted by the beautiful sunset along the way. My wife has always excelled in taking photo shoots, but using an analog camera. Since we switched to a digital one, she has more or less relegated the “shooting” role to us, contented at being the “target”, if you know what I mean.
I guess everybody has to adjust to a digital world sooner or later. She is now quite at ease at surfing the Internet, a proof that necessity is the mother of adjustment, and immersion is the way to a digital style of life, at least some aspects of that.
Fascinated by the splendor of the tapestry of sunset color set against the horizon above the moving tree line (actually the car was moving), she took up the digital camera and all I heard (I have to focus on the road ahead as the drive was punctuated by alternate slowing down, sometimes complete momentary stoppage, and accelerating) was the camera clicking away. Does she know what she is doing, with a digital camera?
And here are some shots from her efforts. Enjoy the rich mix of the blending color that only a fleeting sunset will offer, with discrete tree silhouettes in one and a solitary signage post in another. While one of the streaks (the brighter one) is obviously the reflection from the flash on the window pane, the other is real, like the trace left behind by a shooting star, a momentary flash of brilliance that adds a variant to the sunset sky. So judge for yourself. I don’t know about you, but I am definitely proud of my wife, whose artistic talents and level-headed approach to life’s issues have never ceased to amaze me despite our more than 28 years of married journey.
Have a great Thanksgiving Season!