I spent this past Christmas in the Philippines paying respects to my grandma who passed away after a long battle with cancer. Thankfully while we were there, Grandpa seemed his usual self. We stayed at his house to keep him company, and he seemed to be taking the news well.
One afternoon, I walked downstairs into the living room and saw Grandpa watching TV. He beckoned me over to watch with him. The date on the ancient VCR recording flickered 1995. On screen, a chorus of young children no more than ten years old were singing what sounded to my unfamiliar ears like traditional Chinese opera. As I patiently watched the children recite verse after verse, I could only imagine how many times Grandpa must have watched this same recording over and over through the years. Interrupting my thoughts, Grandpa informed me in broken English that these children were all part of a nonprofit established in his home village – a nonprofit he had funded in its entirety for seven years.
The delight in his voice couldn’t be masked by his halting speech. This was my grandfather’s pride and joy – establishing a nonprofit that would preserve culture and tradition to his village in Fujian, China for years to come. Never did he tell me how he came about the money to support this charity. It was only hearing from my mom (who heard from my dad) that he had owned a very successful export business many years back. Yet Grandpa didn’t brag to me about the sales he generated over the years, or the profitable contracts he landed. At the end of the day, this charity was his greatest accomplishment, and it was this charity he wanted to share with his grandson.
Grandpa nearly jumped out of his seat as he motioned at the screen. On screen, the camera had panned away from the performers to focus on one dignified member of the audience. She sat pristinely watching the performance unfold before her. The image flickered with years of wear, but the figure was still recognizable.
“That’s your grandma! .. That’s my wife!”
I looked from the screen back to Grandpa. There was a sparkle in his normally sleepy-looking eyes, a bright smile filled his weary face. As he settled back into his seat, his bright smile faded slowly into a peaceful, meditative one, the sparkle never leaving his eyes.
What are you doing today that will bring a smile to your face years from now? What part of your life will you jump up to show your grandchildren decades from now?