URS coming of age… a child became a man

How many of us have had a life-changing trial at the age of 17? Most teenagers, especially in “westernized middle class” societies, have a rather “protected life,” going to good schools, living in air-conditioned homes with ample space, and making college plans. At least that’s how adults might see it. So, it’s a surprise when something radically challenging happens.

This particular story started when phone calls began coming in, repeatedly, from Asia in the middle of the night that my father had fallen, usually off the bed, again, and appeared to have fractures, often in his ribs. What were we supposed to say or do, half way around the globe in America? When these kinds of calls came more and more frequently, our questions and prayers became more and more urgent. 

Who were the local friends or relatives that could be called to help? What if they could not respond? What if they lived far away from dad? And, what about his cancer of the prostate? Wasn’t the surgery considered successful? How come there are signs of spread now, in the bones of the body? We couldn’t realistically give any good advice from such a long-distance, could we?

We had asked our parents often about potentially moving to join us in the USA, where we had lived for decades. The answer was always, let’s wait and see. My dad and mom had lived for 40 years in Hong Kong, and there were excellent reasons for them not to move, to leave their comfort zone, relatives, church friends, and friends that they would often see on the streets or at numerous social functions.

But now it was getting really out of hand, as we tried to give suggestions or instructions on the phone 12 time zones away, while not knowing exactly what was going on. We had a deep sense of helplessness and frustration. Previously, dad had always been the decisive surgeon, the Asian patriarch, the very well-respected leader of the community. But now he was beginning to defer his decisions to us, at long-distance.

It was intimidating and confusing. Meanwhile, at my US hospital work place, I had just been given a huge academic responsibility, on top of my usual clinical and research work, and my equally heavy church ministry. I was truly feeling desperate and confused as to what to do, and our prayers reflected our state of anxiety.

Photo 1: Young man (far right) getting grandpa and grandma (center) ready to board the 7,500 mile flight from Asia.

Suddenly, in the middle of all this, out of the blue, at dinner, our young son announced calmly, “I’ll go to Hong Kong, and bring grandpa over!” We were stunned, and it took us a few seconds to recover. Of course, we were thinking to ourselves, “he’s just an American kid, living most of his life in a Midwest small town, thinking innocently of going to the fastest moving city in the world, a city that could beat New York in brashness, speaking a language that was too fast, had tangled up jargon and often sarcasm, a language that he only heard, but never officially learned. Well intentioned and touching, but could he survive?”

In his defense, though young, he had traveled quite a bit, accompanying me on some of my many international trips, so it wasn’t like he didn’t understand airports and foreign cities. But he was a very quiet kid, not what you might picture as being very adventurous. This decision was extremely adventurous! And he was only a kid!

We all realized it meant probably a two-month, basically solo stay in Asia, time to sort out many problems, belongings, and papers, at the residence and medical office. Our prayers quickly turned into specific prayers of whether this would work, and how. It was a blessing that it would soon be the beginning of summer, and Trevor could take advantage of that, to essentially spend his entire summer vacation over in Asia. It would be no vacation, we were sure.

An American kid, at age 17 traveling alone for more than 24 hours by plane, to live 7,500 miles away, adapting to a very foreign culture, is not something you would glibly sign up for. But so it happened.

Arriving in Hong Kong, our young man found that grandpa had turned from his usual gregarious self into some kind of a stunned, withdrawn, and indecisive person. No longer was he the firm authoritative patriarch. The anesthesia had damaged his brain, and he was no longer the Great Doctor. He became rather childlike, and his grandson assumed the major responsibility of bringing order to chaos, making decisions about what things to throw away, and what to bring to the USA, consulting with local relatives when necessary or possible. But my parents’ home was quite far from the city, requiring a long bus ride followed by a hike up a steep little hill, so not very many people could easily come and visit.

My dad’s medical office was in the city, and at that time he had at least one staff member, an uncle who could help make some decisions. But the office had become rather rundown and a lot of the papers and documents were in disarray. Since all the documents were basically in English, not quite understandable to the uncle, our son had to try to make sensible decisions for much of the stuff, even though it was very strange for him. Mostly it was laborious, since documents were piled up, or stuffed in drawers, mixed in sometimes with cash and checks, and even investment papers. A dramatic learning experience for the young man! And long distance phone calls were hugely expensive, emails non-existent!

The family home was in no better shape, since newspapers, journals, books and paper records easily filled up several rooms, including my former college phase bedroom! All those things had to be sorted out and adequately disposed. In the middle of those 2 months, I joined my son for 2 weeks, mostly to make sure that he was still alive! Together we worked at a fast pace to get rid of stuff that could be quickly decided upon. We even brought in a garbage truck that lined itself up on the ground floor roadway, while we gathered enough things that we could just throw off from the balcony on the second floor, onto the top of the flatbed truck. That seemed quite efficient, and rather morbidly fun.

My parents just sat there, I guess stunned from all these things happening around them, seemingly uncertain, and maybe even somewhat unconcerned, since they were essentially no longer making any decisions. It was a very strange experience all around, but so it happened, as we prepared some furniture and other belongings to be ultimately shipped by sea to the USA. Later on, we realized probably too much was shipped over, but everyone was literally overwhelmed by all the decisions, and likely scared to throw away things which might turn out to be valuable somehow. A very uncomfortable feeling, throwing away things that didn’t belong to you!

So how does a young teenager, then, singlehandedly, transport a sick elderly man who didn’t walk too well and was incontinent, and his elderly wife, thousands of miles from Hong Kong in Asia, to Cincinnati in the middle of the USA? Well, this young man had to carry his grandfather on his back onto the plane, change his diapers during the plane ride, and manage a quite deaf and fragile grandmother. Fortunately, we had relatives in Seattle, so the group of 3 stopped there for a few days first, a wise move, before proceeding finally to Cincinnati. I would guess the total flying time, minus the Seattle layover, was an exceptionally stressful 24 hours.

Photo 2: Young man’s travels at age 6 ½ years in Southeast Asia, in preparation for his age 17 adventure and trial?
照片2: 6岁半男孩的东南亚之旅。是在为他17岁时的冒险和考验做准备吗?

The final hiccup occurred in Chicago during transit between flights. Grandmother, being quite hard of hearing, somehow did not catch the warning that the airline gate agent could not wait for her to go to the washroom, and the plane took off. Our patient but frustrated young man had to arrange another flight hours later, and escort grandma on another walk to the next gate, all this in the days before cell phones and APPS of today. To the huge relief of everyone, especially our by-now-exhausted son, everyone arrived safely, finally, in Cincinnati.

In retrospect, for the last few decades, a major reason that our son kept urging us to move from Cincinnati, where we lived ultimately 47 years, to Seattle, was this “adventure.” The tension and trauma for a 17-year-old to experience, being practically “stranded” in a strange land, was clearly a “coming of age” event. Whenever I think of this, even now, I can feel my tears welling up. It was a bold and caring move that was really touching: we saw him from that point onwards in a different vein. He was now a man, a son definitely to be hugely proud of.

Was there a coming of age event in your life that was particularly meaningful, signaling adulthood, even if not as dramatic? Personally treasured memories like that might indeed be inspirational to others.

URS 之成长…从孩童到成人

我们中有多少人在17岁时经历过改变一生的考验?大多数青少年,尤其是在“西方化的中产阶级”社会中,这时正在过一种相当“受保护的生活”,他们上好的学校,住在有充足空间的空调房里,筹划着上大学的计划。至少成年人是这么看的。所以,当一些极具挑战性的事情发生时,我们会感到很惊讶。

这个特别的故事是这样开始的:电话不断地从亚洲打来,那是在一个深夜,我父亲又从床上摔了下来,他的肋骨似乎骨折了。远在地球另一端的美国的我们该说些什么、做些什么?当这样的呼召越来越频繁时,我们的问题和祷告也变得越来越迫切。

谁是当地可以求助的朋友或亲戚?如果他们无法回应怎么办?如果他们住得离爸爸很远呢?还有,他的前列腺癌怎么办?手术不是很成功吗?为什么现在有扩散的迹象,已经在身体的骨头里了?这么远的距离,我们实际上不能给任何好的建议,是吗?

我们经常问父母,有没有可能搬到美国和我们一起生活,因为我们在美国已经生活了几十年。答案总是,先等等看。我的父母在香港生活了40年,他们有充分的理由不搬,不离开他们的舒适区,不离开他们的亲戚、教会朋友,以及他们经常在街上或生活种看到的朋友们。

但现在情况真的失控了,我们试着在12个时区之外的电话上给出建议或指示,却不知道到底发生了什么。我们有一种深深的无助感和挫折感。在此之前,父亲一直是一位果断的外科医生,一位亚洲家长,一位备受尊敬的社区领袖。但现在他开始远距离地把他的决定交给我们。

这既吓人又令人困惑。与此同时,在我美国医院工作的地方,我刚刚被赋予了巨大的学术责任,除了我通常的临床和研究工作,还有我同样繁重的教会工作。我真的感到绝望和困惑,不知道该做什么,我们的祈祷反映了我们的焦虑状态。

图一: 小伙子(最右边)正在为爷爷奶奶(中间)做登机准备–搭乘航程7500英里从亚洲出发的飞机。

突然,在这中间,出乎意料的是,在晚饭时,我们年轻的儿子平静地宣布:“我要去香港,把爷爷接来!”我们都惊呆了,花了几秒钟才恢复过来。当然,我们在想,“他只是一个美国孩子, 他的大部分生活在中西部小镇,天真地想去世界上节奏最快的城市(比纽约还要炫酷),自以为是地说着一种语言, 满是又快又绕的术语和讽刺。这种语言, 他只听过,但从未正式学过。他这样说的本意很好,很感人,但他能做到吗?”

我们心里想,他自己可能会辩解说,虽然他很年轻,但他经常旅行,在我的许多国际旅行中,他有时候会陪伴着我,所以他并不是不了解机场和外国城市。但他是个非常安静的孩子,不像想象的那样爱冒险。但这个决定非常冒险!他还只是个孩子!

我们都意识到,这意味着他可能要独自在亚洲呆两个月,既要在爷爷家里做搬家的安排,又要在诊所处理许多事情,包括准备个人物品和必要的文件准备等。我们的祷告很快就变得很具体: 这是否会可行,又如何进行?好在,夏天很快就要开始了,宪材(Trevor)可以利用这一点,在亚洲度过他的整个暑假。我们确信,这将没有假期可言。

一个17岁的美国孩子,独自坐了24个多小时的飞机,去7500英里以外的地方生活,适应一种非常陌生的文化,这不是你会轻易会参加的活动。事实确实如此。

一到香港,我们的年轻人发现,爷爷已经从一个平时爱交际的人变成了一个不知所措、孤僻、优柔寡断的人。他不再是那个在人们眼里满是权威的家长了。麻醉已经损伤了他的大脑,他也不再是那个伟大的医生了。他变得相当孩子气,他的孙子承担起了让混乱恢复秩序的主要责任:决定扔掉什么东西,带什么东西到美国,必要时或可能时咨询当地的亲戚。但是我父母的家离城市很远,需要坐很长时间的公共汽车,然后爬上陡峭的小山,所以不是很多人可以轻易地来拜访和帮忙。

我爸爸的诊所在市里,那时他至少还有一个工作人员,一个可以帮他做些决定的叔叔。但办公室已经变得有些破旧,许多杂物和文件都乱了套。因为所有的文件基本上都是英文的,那个叔叔不太能理解,所以我儿子不得不自己对很多东西做最后的决定,尽管这对他来说原本是很奇怪的事情。这项工作的大多数时候都是费力的,因为文件被堆放起来,或者塞在抽屉里,有时和现金、支票甚至投资文件混在一起。多么戏剧性的为年轻人准备的一次学习体验!那时长途电话非常昂贵,电子邮件还根本不存在!

我家里的情况也好不到哪里去,因为报纸、期刊、书籍和纸质记录很容易就占满了几个房间,我以前大学时的卧室也是如此!所有这些东西都必须加以整理和妥善处理。在那两个月中,我陪了我儿子两个星期,主要是为了确保他还活着! 我们一起快速地工作,以处理那些可以很快决定的东西。我们甚至请来了一辆垃圾车,它在底层的道路上排好,我们收集完足够多的东西,把它们从二楼的阳台上直接扔到垃圾车的顶上。这似乎很有效,也给沉闷中的我们带来一点轻松。

我的父母只是坐在那里,我猜他们对周围发生的一切感到震惊,似乎不确定这一切是真的,甚至实际上有点并不关心了,因为他们已经基本上不能再做任何决定了。这是一个非同寻常的经历,但它确实发生了,我们有条不紊地准备着,安排将一些家具和其他财产最终海运到美国。后来,我们意识到可能交付海运的东西还是太多了,但对要扔掉哪一件东西又实在难以抉择,很害怕扔掉那些可能会有价值的东西。扔掉不属于你的东西是一种非常不舒服的感觉!

那么,一个十几岁的少年,怎么独自把一个走路不太好、大小便失禁的生病的老人,和他年迈的妻子,从亚洲的香港千里迢迢,送到美国中部的辛辛那提呢?嗯,这个年轻人不得不背着他的祖父上飞机,在飞机上给他换尿布,还要照顾一个又聋又虚弱的祖母。幸好,我们在西雅图有亲戚,所以这三个人先在那里逗留了几天,这是一个明智的举动,最后才前往辛辛那提。我猜,除去在西雅图的中途停留,整个飞行时间是非常紧张的24小时。

Photo 2: Young man’s travels at age 6 ½ years in Southeast Asia, in preparation for his age 17 adventure and trial?
照片2: 6岁半男孩的东南亚之旅。是在为他17岁时的冒险和考验做准备吗?

最后一次插曲发生在芝加哥转机的时候。祖母当时的听力已经严重下降, 没有听到飞机马上要起飞的警告,没等她去完洗手间,飞机就飞走了。我们耐心又稍有些沮丧的年轻人不得不安排了另一架几个小时后起飞的飞机, 陪奶奶再走到另一个登记口搭乘飞机。这一切都是发生在没有今天的移动电话和那么多方便的APP的情况下。让每个人都松了一口气的是,尤其是我们疲惫不堪的儿子,最后每个人都安全地到达了辛辛那提。

回想起来,在过去的几十年里,我们的儿子不断催促我们从我们生活了47年的辛辛那提搬到西雅图,一个主要的原因就是他的这次“冒险”。对于一个17岁的孩子来说,被困在陌生的土地上所经历的紧张和压力,显然是一个促他“成年”的事件。每当我想到这一点,即使是现在,我都能感觉到我的眼泪涌了出来。这是一个大胆而体贴的举动,真的很感人: 从那一刻起,我们就对他刮目相看。他现在是一个男人了,一个绝对让我们觉得骄傲的儿子。

在你的生活中,是否有一个特别有意义的成年事件,即使没有那么戏剧化,也标志着你已经成年? 就你 个人而言,这样珍贵的记忆可能确实会鼓舞他人。

URS coming of age… a child became a man
URS 之成长…从孩童到成人

How many of us have had a life-changing trial at the age of 17? Most teenagers, especially in “westernized middle class” societies, have a rather “protected life,” going to good schools, living in air-conditioned homes with ample space, and making college plans. At least that’s how adults might see it. So, it’s a surprise when something radically challenging happens.
我们中有多少人在17岁时经历过改变一生的考验?大多数青少年,尤其是在“西方化的中产阶级”社会中,这时正在过一种相当“受保护的生活”,他们上好的学校,住在有充足空间的空调房里,筹划着上大学的计划。至少成年人是这么看的。所以,当一些极具挑战性的事情发生时,我们会感到很惊讶。

This particular story started when phone calls began coming in, repeatedly, from Asia in the middle of the night that my father had fallen, usually off the bed, again, and appeared to have fractures, often in his ribs. What were we supposed to say or do, half way around the globe in America? When these kinds of calls came more and more frequently, our questions and prayers became more and more urgent.
这个特别的故事是这样开始的:电话不断地从亚洲打来,那是在一个深夜,我父亲又从床上摔了下来,他的肋骨似乎骨折了。远在地球另一端的美国的我们该说些什么、做些什么?当这样的呼召越来越频繁时,我们的问题和祷告也变得越来越迫切。

Who were the local friends or relatives that could be called to help? What if they could not respond? What if they lived far away from dad? And, what about his cancer of the prostate? Wasn’t the surgery considered successful? How come there are signs of spread now, in the bones of the body? We couldn’t realistically give any good advice from such a long-distance, could we?
谁是当地可以求助的朋友或亲戚?如果他们无法回应怎么办?如果他们住得离爸爸很远呢?还有,他的前列腺癌怎么办?手术不是很成功吗?为什么现在有扩散的迹象,已经在身体的骨头里了?这么远的距离,我们实际上不能给任何好的建议,是吗?

We had asked our parents often about potentially moving to join us in the USA, where we had lived for decades. The answer was always, let’s wait and see. My dad and mom had lived for 40 years in Hong Kong, and there were excellent reasons for them not to move, to leave their comfort zone, relatives, church friends, and friends that they would often see on the streets or at numerous social functions.
我们经常问父母,有没有可能搬到美国和我们一起生活,因为我们在美国已经生活了几十年。答案总是,先等等看。我的父母在香港生活了40年,他们有充分的理由不搬,不离开他们的舒适区,不离开他们的亲戚、教会朋友,以及他们经常在街上或生活种看到的朋友们。

But now it was getting really out of hand, as we tried to give suggestions or instructions on the phone 12 time zones away, while not knowing exactly what was going on. We had a deep sense of helplessness and frustration. Previously, dad had always been the decisive surgeon, the Asian patriarch, the very well-respected leader of the community. But now he was beginning to defer his decisions to us, at long-distance.
但现在情况真的失控了,我们试着在12个时区之外的电话上给出建议或指示,却不知道到底发生了什么。我们有一种深深的无助感和挫折感。在此之前,父亲一直是一位果断的外科医生,一位亚洲家长,一位备受尊敬的社区领袖。但现在他开始远距离地把他的决定交给我们。

It was intimidating and confusing. Meanwhile, at my US hospital work place, I had just been given a huge academic responsibility, on top of my usual clinical and research work, and my equally heavy church ministry. I was truly feeling desperate and confused as to what to do, and our prayers reflected our state of anxiety.
这既吓人又令人困惑。与此同时,在我美国医院工作的地方,我刚刚被赋予了巨大的学术责任,除了我通常的临床和研究工作,还有我同样繁重的教会工作。我真的感到绝望和困惑,不知道该做什么,我们的祈祷反映了我们的焦虑状态。

Photo 1: Young man (far right) getting grandpa and grandma (center) ready to board the 7,500 mile flight from Asia.
图一: 小伙子(最右边)正在为爷爷奶奶(中间)做登机准备–搭乘航程7500英里从亚洲出发的飞机。

Suddenly, in the middle of all this, out of the blue, at dinner, our young son announced calmly, “I’ll go to Hong Kong, and bring grandpa over!” We were stunned, and it took us a few seconds to recover. Of course, we were thinking to ourselves, “he’s just an American kid, living most of his life in a Midwest small town, thinking innocently of going to the fastest moving city in the world, a city that could beat New York in brashness, speaking a language that was too fast, had tangled up jargon and often sarcasm, a language that he only heard, but never officially learned. Well intentioned and touching, but could he survive?”
突然,在这中间,出乎意料的是,在晚饭时,我们年轻的儿子平静地宣布:“我要去香港,把爷爷接来!”我们都惊呆了,花了几秒钟才恢复过来。当然,我们在想,“他只是一个美国孩子, 他的大部分生活在中西部小镇,天真地想去世界上节奏最快的城市(比纽约还要炫酷),自以为是地说着一种语言, 满是又快又绕的术语和讽刺。这种语言, 他只听过,但从未正式学过。他这样说的本意很好,很感人,但他能做到吗?”

In his defense, though young, he had traveled quite a bit, accompanying me on some of my many international trips, so it wasn’t like he didn’t understand airports and foreign cities. But he was a very quiet kid, not what you might picture as being very adventurous. This decision was extremely adventurous! And he was only a kid!
我们心里想,他自己可能会辩解说,虽然他很年轻,但他经常旅行,在我的许多国际旅行中,他有时候会陪伴着我,所以他并不是不了解机场和外国城市。但他是个非常安静的孩子,不像想象的那样爱冒险。但这个决定非常冒险!他还只是个孩子!

We all realized it meant probably a two-month, basically solo stay in Asia, time to sort out many problems, belongings, and papers, at the residence and medical office. Our prayers quickly turned into specific prayers of whether this would work, and how. It was a blessing that it would soon be the beginning of summer, and Trevor could take advantage of that, to essentially spend his entire summer vacation over in Asia. It would be no vacation, we were sure.
我们都意识到,这意味着他可能要独自在亚洲呆两个月,既要在爷爷家里做搬家的安排,又要在诊所处理许多事情,包括准备个人物品和必要的文件准备等。我们的祷告很快就变得很具体: 这是否会可行,又如何进行?好在,夏天很快就要开始了,宪材(Trevor)可以利用这一点,在亚洲度过他的整个暑假。我们确信,这将没有假期可言。

An American kid, at age 17 traveling alone for more than 24 hours by plane, to live 7,500 miles away, adapting to a very foreign culture, is not something you would glibly sign up for. But so it happened.
一个17岁的美国孩子,独自坐了24个多小时的飞机,去7500英里以外的地方生活,适应一种非常陌生的文化,这不是你会轻易会参加的活动。事实确实如此。

Arriving in Hong Kong, our young man found that grandpa had turned from his usual gregarious self into some kind of a stunned, withdrawn, and indecisive person. No longer was he the firm authoritative patriarch. The anesthesia had damaged his brain, and he was no longer the Great Doctor. He became rather childlike, and his grandson assumed the major responsibility of bringing order to chaos, making decisions about what things to throw away, and what to bring to the USA, consulting with local relatives when necessary or possible. But my parents’ home was quite far from the city, requiring a long bus ride followed by a hike up a steep little hill, so not very many people could easily come and visit.
一到香港,我们的年轻人发现,爷爷已经从一个平时爱交际的人变成了一个不知所措、孤僻、优柔寡断的人。他不再是那个在人们眼里满是权威的家长了。麻醉已经损伤了他的大脑,他也不再是那个伟大的医生了。他变得相当孩子气,他的孙子承担起了让混乱恢复秩序的主要责任:决定扔掉什么东西,带什么东西到美国,必要时或可能时咨询当地的亲戚。但是我父母的家离城市很远,需要坐很长时间的公共汽车,然后爬上陡峭的小山,所以不是很多人可以轻易地来拜访和帮忙。

My dad’s medical office was in the city, and at that time he had at least one staff member, an uncle who could help make some decisions. But the office had become rather rundown and a lot of the papers and documents were in disarray. Since all the documents were basically in English, not quite understandable to the uncle, our son had to try to make sensible decisions for much of the stuff, even though it was very strange for him. Mostly it was laborious, since documents were piled up, or stuffed in drawers, mixed in sometimes with cash and checks, and even investment papers. A dramatic learning experience for the young man! And long distance phone calls were hugely expensive, emails non-existent!
我爸爸的诊所在市里,那时他至少还有一个工作人员,一个可以帮他做些决定的叔叔。但办公室已经变得有些破旧,许多杂物和文件都乱了套。因为所有的文件基本上都是英文的,那个叔叔不太能理解,所以我儿子不得不自己对很多东西做最后的决定,尽管这对他来说原本是很奇怪的事情。这项工作的大多数时候都是费力的,因为文件被堆放起来,或者塞在抽屉里,有时和现金、支票甚至投资文件混在一起。多么戏剧性的为年轻人准备的一次学习体验!那时长途电话非常昂贵,电子邮件还根本不存在!

The family home was in no better shape, since newspapers, journals, books and paper records easily filled up several rooms, including my former college phase bedroom! All those things had to be sorted out and adequately disposed. In the middle of those 2 months, I joined my son for 2 weeks, mostly to make sure that he was still alive! Together we worked at a fast pace to get rid of stuff that could be quickly decided upon. We even brought in a garbage truck that lined itself up on the ground floor roadway, while we gathered enough things that we could just throw off from the balcony on the second floor, onto the top of the flatbed truck. That seemed quite efficient, and rather morbidly fun.
我家里的情况也好不到哪里去,因为报纸、期刊、书籍和纸质记录很容易就占满了几个房间,我以前大学时的卧室也是如此!所有这些东西都必须加以整理和妥善处理。在那两个月中,我陪了我儿子两个星期,主要是为了确保他还活着! 我们一起快速地工作,以处理那些可以很快决定的东西。我们甚至请来了一辆垃圾车,它在底层的道路上排好,我们收集完足够多的东西,把它们从二楼的阳台上直接扔到垃圾车的顶上。这似乎很有效,也给沉闷中的我们带来一点轻松。

My parents just sat there, I guess stunned from all these things happening around them, seemingly uncertain, and maybe even somewhat unconcerned, since they were essentially no longer making any decisions. It was a very strange experience all around, but so it happened, as we prepared some furniture and other belongings to be ultimately shipped by sea to the USA. Later on, we realized probably too much was shipped over, but everyone was literally overwhelmed by all the decisions, and likely scared to throw away things which might turn out to be valuable somehow. A very uncomfortable feeling, throwing away things that didn’t belong to you!
我的父母只是坐在那里,我猜他们对周围发生的一切感到震惊,似乎不确定这一切是真的,甚至实际上有点并不关心了,因为他们已经基本上不能再做任何决定了。这是一个非同寻常的经历,但它确实发生了,我们有条不紊地准备着,安排将一些家具和其他财产最终海运到美国。后来,我们意识到可能交付海运的东西还是太多了,但对要扔掉哪一件东西又实在难以抉择,很害怕扔掉那些可能会有价值的东西。扔掉不属于你的东西是一种非常不舒服的感觉!

So how does a young teenager, then, singlehandedly, transport a sick elderly man who didn’t walk too well and was incontinent, and his elderly wife, thousands of miles from Hong Kong in Asia, to Cincinnati in the middle of the USA? Well, this young man had to carry his grandfather on his back onto the plane, change his diapers during the plane ride, and manage a quite deaf and fragile grandmother. Fortunately, we had relatives in Seattle, so the group of 3 stopped there for a few days first, a wise move, before proceeding finally to Cincinnati. I would guess the total flying time, minus the Seattle layover, was an exceptionally stressful 24 hours.
那么,一个十几岁的少年,怎么独自把一个走路不太好、大小便失禁的生病的老人,和他年迈的妻子,从亚洲的香港千里迢迢,送到美国中部的辛辛那提呢?嗯,这个年轻人不得不背着他的祖父上飞机,在飞机上给他换尿布,还要照顾一个又聋又虚弱的祖母。幸好,我们在西雅图有亲戚,所以这三个人先在那里逗留了几天,这是一个明智的举动,最后才前往辛辛那提。我猜,除去在西雅图的中途停留,整个飞行时间是非常紧张的24小时。



Photo 2: Young man’s travels at age 6 ½ years in Southeast Asia, in preparation for his age 17 adventure and trial?
照片2: 6岁半男孩的东南亚之旅。是在为他17岁时的冒险和考验做准备吗?

The final hiccup occurred in Chicago during transit between flights. Grandmother, being quite hard of hearing, somehow did not catch the warning that the airline gate agent could not wait for her to go to the washroom, and the plane took off. Our patient but frustrated young man had to arrange another flight hours later, and escort grandma on another walk to the next gate, all this in the days before cell phones and APPS of today. To the huge relief of everyone, especially our by-now-exhausted son, everyone arrived safely, finally, in Cincinnati.
最后一次插曲发生在芝加哥转机的时候。祖母当时的听力已经严重下降, 没有听到飞机马上要起飞的警告,没等她去完洗手间,飞机就飞走了。我们耐心又稍有些沮丧的年轻人不得不安排了另一架几个小时后起飞的飞机, 陪奶奶再走到另一个登记口搭乘飞机。这一切都是发生在没有今天的移动电话和那么多方便的APP的情况下。让每个人都松了一口气的是,尤其是我们疲惫不堪的儿子,最后每个人都安全地到达了辛辛那提。

In retrospect, for the last few decades, a major reason that our son kept urging us to move from Cincinnati, where we lived ultimately 47 years, to Seattle, was this “adventure.” The tension and trauma for a 17-year-old to experience, being practically “stranded” in a strange land, was clearly a “coming of age” event. Whenever I think of this, even now, I can feel my tears welling up. It was a bold and caring move that was really touching: we saw him from that point onwards in a different vein. He was now a man, a son definitely to be hugely proud of.
回想起来,在过去的几十年里,我们的儿子不断催促我们从我们生活了47年的辛辛那提搬到西雅图,一个主要的原因就是他的这次“冒险”。对于一个17岁的孩子来说,被困在陌生的土地上所经历的紧张和压力,显然是一个促他“成年”的事件。每当我想到这一点,即使是现在,我都能感觉到我的眼泪涌了出来。这是一个大胆而体贴的举动,真的很感人: 从那一刻起,我们就对他刮目相看。他现在是一个男人了,一个绝对让我们觉得骄傲的儿子。

Was there a coming of age event in your life that was particularly meaningful, signaling adulthood, even if not as dramatic? Personally treasured memories like that might indeed be inspirational to others.
在你的生活中,是否有一个特别有意义的成年事件,即使没有那么戏剧化,也标志着你已经成年? 就你 个人而言,这样珍贵的记忆可能确实会鼓舞他人。

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