Archive for the ‘anecdote’ Category

Obituary : Teresa Hsu = Respect

December 14, 2011

Teresa Hsu’s life philosophy

“The world is my home,
all living beings are my brothers and sisters,
selfless service is my religion.”

[ From newnation ]

Thank you, Teresa Hsu, you will always be the coolest person in Singapore. Because of you, our faith in humanity shall be restored.

Singapore’s oldest woman and super volunteer Teresa Hsu has passed away.

According to an announcement  on the Heart to Heart website, Hsu departed peacefully at her home on Dec. 7 and was cremated on the same day.

Strict instructions were passed down to withhold announcements of her demise from the media.

Even in death, she was caring and considerate, insisting in a notice signed by her close friend and co-worker Sharana Rao, stating she did not want any ceremonies performed that would “cause disturbance and inconvenience to others”.

An avid yoga practitioner and vegetarian, the 113-year-old Hsu was awarded several accolades for her work, such as the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre’s Special Recognition Award (2006) and the Sporting Singapore Inspiration Award for her teaching of yoga (2004).

Her work with the needy was born out of her personal experiences growing up very poor and witnessing the plight of others who were less well-off.

In Heart to Heart with Teresa Hsu, her authorised biography published earlier this year, Hsu remembers being “very poor and very hungry” to the point that she resorted to eating grass when she was seven years old.

That experience left a lasting impression.

Up till the point when she was more than 90 years old, Hsu was at Heart to Heart, an outreach unit in Singapore, where she and her co-worker Sharana Rao, 62, look after the needs of 13 single elderly folks and four needy families in Singapore, giving them basic food and money for rent, utilities, travel and companionship.

Monetary donations are also given to help 47 visually-impaired children and teenagers in Ho Chi Minh.

Hsu was born in 1898 to a poor but caring family in Kak Chioh Swatow, a tiny village in the Guangdong province of China.

Her “wake up call”, as she described it in her recently released biography, came in 1933 in Hong Kong. She was in her mid-thirties.

Hsu came across a beggar asking for food just as she had attended a lavish company dinner.

She described this experience as giving her “great pain in my heart” as she was witnessing the suffering of a fellow human being.

Hsu decided from then on, she would donate her money to the underprivileged rather than spending it on herself.

At that time, she spent an average of only 30 cents a day for food and drink, giving away the remainder of her money.

In the 1940s, Hsu, who was in her 40s by then, joined the Friends Ambulance Unit. Her duty was to look after 20 young men and acted as their translator in China during the Second World War.

After four years, she boarded a cargo ship headed for England to study at the London Royal Free Hospital.

Her determination and desire was so impressive that she was accepted into the three-year course meant only for those aged between 17 to 25.

During the summer breaks, Hsu worked as an exchange volunteer with the International Voluntary Service for Peace in Germany, France, Spain, Switzerland, Norway and Denmark.

She later joined the Society of Brothers in Paraguay where she worked in a hospital giving medication, injections and attending to women’s health problems.

The Society was a haven for Jewish refugees from Hitler’s persecution. There were 2,000 residents on the grounds.

Besides her hospital work, Hsu would also deliver food to lepers living on the outskirts of the town everyday.

She also gave out medicine and food, meant for society members, to the poor and sick. This frequently got her into trouble with the Society.

Subsequently, she returned to China after eight years.

And in 1961, Hsu moved again. This time to Singapore with her mother to live with Ursula Khow, Hsu’s elder sister who was a school principal.

Hsu continued her social work in Singapore, serving first as a nonsalaried matron at Kwong Wai Shiu Hospital for about three years.

Later, she opened an old folks’ home in 1965 on a piece of land in Jalan Payoh Lai.

Khow funded the project as it cost $150,000. Called the “Home for the Aged Sick”, it started with just seven elderly residents but quickly expanded to 250.

At that time, Hsu was also caring for 26 needy families and single elderly folks through her outreach unit, Heart-to-Heart.

After 20 years at the home, Hsu retired. She turned her attention to Heart to Heart, where she spent her final days tending to the welfare service she was at for more than two decades.

Her tireless work and indomitable spirit never made retirement an option.

In the Yahoo!News interview she gave in July, Hsu stressed: “No temptation can come into my house. I have work to do, I am not diverted.”

Her message to young people today: “Go all out to help those who don’t have the basic needs. See that nobody needs to go hungry.”

 

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Lesson from a chili seller

July 27, 2009
賣辣椒的人,恐怕經常會碰到這樣一個問題,那就是不斷會有買主問「你這辣椒辣嗎?」
不好回答。答「辣」吧,也許買辣椒的人是個怕辣的,立馬走人;答「不辣」吧,也許買辣椒的人是個喜吃辣的,生意還是做不成。
解決的辦法也有,就是把辣椒分成兩堆,吃辣與不吃辣的各選所需,這是書上說的。
我一天沒事,就站在一個賣辣椒婦女的三輪車旁,看她是怎樣解決這個二律背反難題的。
趁著眼前沒有買主,我自作聰明地對她說:
「你把辣椒分成兩堆吧,有人要辣的你就跟他說這堆是,要不辣的你就給他說那堆是。」
沒想到賣辣椒的婦女卻只笑了笑,輕聲說:「用不著!」
說著就來了一個買主,問的果然是那句老話「辣椒辣嗎?」
賣辣椒的婦女很肯定地告訴他:「顏色深的辣,顏色淺的不辣!」
買主信以為真,挑好辣椒付過錢,滿意地走了。
也不知今天是怎麼回事,大部分人都是買不辣的,不一會兒,顏色淺的辣椒所剩無幾了。
我於是又說:「把剩下的辣椒分成兩堆吧!不然就不好賣了!」
然而,賣辣椒的婦女仍是笑著搖搖頭,說;「用不著!」
又一個買主來了,問:「辣椒辣嗎?」賣辣椒的婦女看了一眼自己的辣椒,信口答道:
「長的辣,短的不辣!」果然,買主就按照她的分類標準開始挑起來。
這一輪的結果是,長辣椒很快告罄。
看著剩下的都是深顏色的短辣椒,我沒有再說話,心想:這回看你還有什麼說法?
沒想到,當又一個買主問「辣椒辣嗎」的時候,賣辣椒的婦女信心十足地回答:
「硬皮的辣,軟皮的不辣!」
我暗暗佩服,可不是嘛,被太陽曬了半天,確實有很多辣椒因失水變得軟綿綿了。
賣辣椒的婦女賣完辣椒,臨走時對我說:
「你說的那個辦法賣辣椒的人都知道,而我的辦法只有我自己知道!」
我忽然有所頓悟:
生活中的智慧可以被寫成書,但你不能簡單地照著書上寫的智慧去生活, 因為生活只能是鮮活而靈動的。 不要在智慧中夾雜著傲慢,不要使謙虛缺乏智慧。

[from an email]

賣辣椒的人,恐怕經常會碰到這樣一個問題,那就是不斷會有買主問「你這辣椒辣嗎?」

不好回答。答「辣」吧,也許買辣椒的人是個怕辣的,立馬走人;答「不辣」吧,也許買辣椒的人是個喜吃辣的,生意還是做不成。

解決的辦法也有,就是把辣椒分成兩堆,吃辣與不吃辣的各選所需,這是書上說的。

我一天沒事,就站在一個賣辣椒婦女的三輪車旁,看她是怎樣解決這個二律背反難題的。 (more…)

父親的心事 – 郭彬郁

July 6, 2009

星洲日報/快樂星期天‧報導:張佩莉 ‧2009.06.21 

 是三個孩子的父親。2001年,我跟太太結婚的第17年,生命有了一些化,那年我被診斷患上腎臟癌。

剛開始發現自己尿出像葡萄汁般的深紫血尿,我一向工作很忙碌,對切身問題都不太注意,也沒甚麼醫學常識,只到驗血中心去做檢驗,沒有積極的去瞭解問題,也沒有即刻去找醫生檢查。

後來血尿的次數變頻密,開始覺得恐慌,不知道身體裡面到底有了甚麼樣的變化,就像進入一個完全黑暗的區域,四週都是目光,但你看不到他們。

所以太太陪我去做超音波檢驗,醫生說左腎上有些陰影,需要再做進一步檢查。留院觀察期間,血尿越來越嚴重,有一次尿液還如紅豆沙般混濁黯紅,醫生說要繼續觀察,我覺得身體好像也沒有異狀,就決定出院。

出院後剛好碰上國慶假期,太太跟小孩說,“爸爸出院了,我們去幫爸爸慶祝一下”。還記得當時小孩還小,我帶著他們到雙峰塔的公園去,心裡頭完全沒有任何憂慮和擔心。

國慶後的某個晚上,血尿情況開始惡化。一般都是早上才出現血尿,當晚小解的時候,竟也發現血尿,我開始意識到問題的嚴重性,但也沒有立即入院,想待隔天再檢查,沒想到隔天早上,尿液完全無法排出,我用力擠,擠出一層薄薄的膜,再擠,是一滴鮮血。

我開始害怕了。

於是打電話給朋友,他說,你趕快到醫院去吧。到了醫院,我開始腿軟,全身無力。我想住院,院方不允許,因為沒有腎臟科醫師的證明,我只好跟院方討價還價,幸好有個醫生來調解,醫生決定要我立即住院,也建議我立即做電腦斷層掃描,當時我已經六神無主了,太太也慌了,朋友趕來看我,我只跟大家說,“你們決定吧”,當下的我,只覺得很疲憊。

因為尿液無法排出,醫生在下體插管通尿,通出來全部是血塊跟血漿,很嚇人。掃描後發現左腎上有兩吋大的腫瘤,醫生不確定是不是癌症,但他說有八成機會是。太太聽了這個消息,差點崩潰。

當時我是一家之主,也是經濟支柱,小孩又還小,這個打擊太大了,我被送進病房的那一刻,情緒全然崩潰。我48歲的人生,從來沒有面對過如此巨大的挫折,無奈、恐懼、焦慮一湧而來,眼淚止不住的一直流。

醫院中有個醫生是同校的校友,他建議我動手術,我沒跟太太商量,就簽字了。手術後留院幾天,這期間小孩都要上學,我雖然希望他們來看我,但不會特別要求他們來探望爸爸。小孩年紀還小,還沒經歷過苦難和波折,人生閱歷還不夠,不知道甚麼是死亡,只有小兒子跟我說,“不希望爸爸老去,也不希望父親死掉”。

手術前後我完全沒想過死亡,那時的恐慌是來自未知,只是反覆在想,究竟未來會如何呢?我能夠過這一關嗎?

現在回想起來,其實自己真的很樂觀,當時也不覺得進去醫院就出不來了,只覺得這是一個比較大的挫折,住院期間還一心惦掛著工作,有人打電話來問我要不要接兩單工程,我還跟他說,你可以等我嗎?待我出院再談。

生命一定會有波折,挫折也難免,我的人生不算一帆風順,所以這次生病也不會一蹶不振。我們一家都是活潑開朗個性,患病初期我把血尿裝在罐子裡,拿給小孩看,他們只是覺得很噁心,也不覺得是甚麼嚴重的事情。手術後我給他們看傷口,他們露出噁心厭惡的表情,笑著走開,我小兒子也只是好奇的問我,“爸爸,你少了一個腎,走路會不會歪一邊啊?”

父親,不是容易的角色

“父親,從來不是一個容易的角色。

三個小孩都有自己的個性,第一個小孩當然比較幸福,父母給得比較多,因為是第一次當父親,所以用很多教育理論來教導她;第二個小孩出世,因為有了經驗,就比較鬆懈,難免忽略了他;到了第3個小孩,因為想彌補之前的不足,所以又比較緊張和關心了。

想當一個一視同仁的父親很不簡單,小孩在成長,父親也在成長,所以,這個三角關係真的不容易處理。

兒個性烈,她的感情事我不插手,因為感情是很主觀的事,我希望給她自由,對此,她也會埋怨,說我沒有給她意見。

患病前,我要老二去參加短期出家,冀望他的成長有不一樣的體驗。有朋友說,這個年紀出家,他以後對物慾對俗世沒有追求,對生活會不會少了動力?現在回想起來,這個決定究竟對不對,還真是一個問號。

老三個性很黏人,所以我跟太太商量後,把他送到獨中,想讓他學習獨立。心裡頭很不捨得,但還是硬著心腸給他去,唸了一年,他華文沒辦法應付,又讓他轉回國中。

親子教育的理論當然很多,但實踐起來不容易。為人父者,當然希望可以把很多訊息傳給小孩,他們可以接收多少,又是一個問題。小時候我讓他們唸三字經,也讓他們唸華校,但大環境是英語和國語為主,所以他們比較洋化一些。我拿通書跟他們講做人的道理,但小孩沒有人生歷練,很難去領悟通書的內涵。

生了這場大病後,我開始注重健康,也企圖灌輸小孩正確的健康觀念,但生病的畢竟是父親,不是他們自己,有時候一些垃圾食物和速食的誘惑也很大,小孩很難把持得住。

患病後我開始練郭林氣功,發生了不少趣事。我在家練功,老二他一大早起身,看到父親走路左右搖擺,他以為我發神經,來拉我,我不能講話,就用手甩開他。我帶小兒子到公園練功,當我閉上眼睛鬆靜站立(預備功)的時候,他就在我面前扮鬼臉,不然就跑到我面前大喊:“SUPER氣功”,讓我又好氣又好笑。

孩子越大越不容易處理,雖然是一家人,但每個人都是一個個體。當孩子還是個嬰兒的時候,任由父母擺佈,你只需滿足他們的生理需求,當他開始移動的時候,你就擔心他會受傷,當他越來越大,問題就越來越難。

他有他新接觸的世界和想法,我有我的人生經驗和過去。他們的時間在醞釀著,我的時間已經走了這麼多,兩個不同的時間碰在一起,他覺得你有權威性,潛意識想要挑戰你,當一個父親意識到這點,你要給他挫折、讓他學會獨立,還是把你的人生經驗給他,讓他走得更順利?

這是很困擾的拿捏,就算再樂觀,也會覺得無奈。

你必須要接受,孩子看的電視節目,你沒有時間看;他接觸的新資訊,你沒有接觸過。

以前我們騎腳車,現在是以車代步;以前我們的玩意是自然的、鄉土的,現在是科技的:PS2、電腦遊戲、線上遊戲、咖;以前我們門戶不關,進出自由,現在治安不好,打搶、拐帶,女兒又怕人家騙,甚麼色情氾濫、性自由等--這麼一大堆,你要如何以個人的力量,去對抗這麼龐大的新環境?

你最多只能叫他看報紙,要他注意和小心,回到他自己,他必須要承擔自己的人生,他要獨立,你就看著他獨立,你只能從旁勸告。

我以前對小孩很約束,後來慢慢放鬆了。人家說養兒防老,其實也未必,你留太多東西給他,又怕他太依賴,面對孩子的各種狀況,做父母的,心靈上要不斷的調適和拿捏。

孩子年紀越大,我的調適就越多。

當他能有自己的主見,又有能力掌握自己想走的路,我的心就會安定下來。

父親給女兒的信

“我的女兒很感性,她目前在國唸書。一個22歲的女生,覺得自己和社會格格不入,開始失去對生活的動力,於是我給她寫了一封信,希望讓她走出低潮。信裡頭我把自己各階段的人生像寫自傳一樣列下來,讓她參考。她還年輕,未來還有很多的路要走,我希望孩子們未來會有家庭、有小孩、有孫子,過一個圓滿的人生。”

親愛的Jolin:

爸爸最近留意到,你有很多負面的想法,我想跟你說--人生不是平順的旅程,人生充滿了高低起伏的挑戰。朋友來來去去,要找一個知己不容易。順應生命的旅程吧,所謂理想只是一個指標,不要太為難自己、也別把自己推到懸崖。如果我們對自己、對別人、對未來,有著太高的期望和預設,我們必須有心理準備,去接受事情不如預期般完美,必須學會承受失敗的衝擊。

想想那些歡樂的日子吧,那些你跟家人、朋友、同學等共渡的歲月、你初抵美國時的日子,想想那時,當同伴們經歷低潮向你求助時,你如何陪伴他們,你因此變得更堅強了。你有很多朋很多朋友,比我們任何一個人都還多。

爸爸把以前經歷過的挑戰和挫折列下來,給你參考,其中有很多歡樂和成就我就不列了,因為我想讓你知道,挑戰和挫折會讓我們的人生更堅強,希望這些參考,讓你的生命有所啟發。

愛你的,
爸爸

我的脚送给你

March 7, 2009

                                          我的脚送给你                            妙妙

 

 大约十多年前,在一个义工分享会上,第一次聆听许哲女士述说她的生活点滴,那时她已是近百岁的人瑞了。

 

从年青到年长,她都在服务人群。她的生活重心是一心一意照顾贫苦、无依无靠的老人。每天的瑜珈练习及自然简单的生食习惯,令我大开眼界;她那充满笑容的慈祥脸容及’爱’的分享;为一批要到国外当义工的我们打了一支强心剂。

 

之后偶而在刊物、媒体资讯中知道她的一些近况,心里对她那无私的奉献印像猶深;几次萌起去拜访她的念头,可就一直没行动。

 

今年春节期间,感触于圣严法师圆寂的当儿,联想到了许哲女士这位善知识。心动不如行动,在網络上找到她的服务中心 ( Heart – to  – Heart  Service ) 的網址 (enquiry@hearttoheartservice.org),便写电邮表明要拜访她,她的义弟(Sharana)很快就安排了见面的时间。

 

当天下午,来到许哲女士简单樸素的小屋。她的身躯看起来与十多年前一样硬朗,雖然行动缓慢,人一样亲切如故。她坐在固定的座位后,看着记事本上的英文名字,一字不漏、一字不差的、清楚的读出三个朋友及我的名字。

 

由於她的耳朵不灵光,接下来的谈话,是在Sharana的協助下;就是在她耳边以英文或潮语、简单重复传话而完成的。

 

我们好奇的询问:〝您不用戴眼镜?〞她指着自己的头,风趣的说:〝眼镜在里边。〞

 

談到她的飲食习惯,由於大部分的牙齒已经掉了,每天吃柔软、流质的食物;Sharana透露说她嗜好吃雪糕及甜卷;每天都有善心人士为她送食物,並说他托许哲女士的福,也不用担心每天的温飽问题。

 

许哲女士对小时候不适合吃鱼肉的印象深刻。她的外婆曾经一再说:〝不吃鱼会不够强壮。〞可是偏偏她一吃鱼肉后就全身发癢,所以从小就不吃肉了。活到这大把年纪的她说:〝我不吃肉,身体还是强壮。不吃肉是不让动物有痛苦。〞她至今没’正式’ 生过病;跌倒过二次,但很快就复原了。

 

一位朋友问她:〝您的飲食与长寿是否有关系?〞她开朗的笑着说:〝上天还没把钥匙拿给我。〞Sharana笑着说〝哈哈!活的快乐,精神勝於物质是决定因素。〞

 

我们惊叹着许哲女士的健康之餘,談到了一位五十来歲的朋友,走路已经膝蓋痛了好久;我也无奈的说现在自己下樓时,左膝蓋也有痛的感觉了。她自然的、关心的说:〝我的脚送给你。〞迟钝的我对这出人意料、’捨脚’为人的话语,只会说声谢谢,就一直感动的看着她微笑。

 

每个星期六,她会到牛车水去探访年老的’红头巾’,通过无数次的交谈,原是潮州籍贯的她,学会了说一口流利的广东话;’ 通行无阻’的与她们话家常。

 

她曾对伤心的老人说过:〝与其浪费一张用钱買的纸巾去抹你的眼淚,为何不开心的笑;笑不用花錢又能保护大自然。纸来自於树,树来自大自然,大自然是我们的母亲。〞

 

她的服务中心每个月会有一次家访话动,义工们会上门拜访贫困的家庭,送上糧食及衣物。

 

她每天还是持续练瑜珈,除此之外,也在学习梵文,阅读华文书;真是一个活到老、学到老的好榜样;她那坚毅的好学精神真是令我们汗颜。

 

感恩有这样一个殊胜的因缘,能与许哲女士再度会面、交流;让朋友与我度过一个温馨、愉快的下午,与她相擁挥手话别时,心里温暖满满的。

 

许哲女士几十年无私的奉献贯穿着她的信念:这世界是一个大家庭。她直透人心、简单又深广的话语及行动,是智慧及爱心的具体表现,让贫苦无依的老人及贫困家庭活得有尊严及有希望。

 

许哲女士,衷心谢謝您!

 

我们祝您妇女节快乐!

 

 

 

 

I wish you enough

February 3, 2009

[From an email]

Recently I overheard a mother and daughter in their last moments together at the airport. They had announced the departure. 

Standing near the security gate, they hugged and the mother said, ‘I love you, and I wish you enough.’ 

The daughter replied, ‘Mum, our life together has been more than enough. Your love is all I ever needed. I wish you enough, too, Mum.’ 

They kissed and the daughter left. The mother walked over to the window where I was seated.. Standing there I could see she wanted and needed to cry. I tried not to intrude on her privacy, but she welcomed me in by asking, ‘Did you ever say good-bye to someone knowing it would be forever?’ 

‘Yes, I have,’ I replied. ‘Forgive me for asking, but why is this a forever good-bye?’. 

‘I am old, and she lives so far away. I have challenges ahead and the reality is – the next trip back will be for my funeral,’ she said. 

‘When you were saying good-bye, I heard you say, ‘I wish you enough..’ May I ask what that means?’ 

She began to smile. ‘That’s a wish that has been handed down from other generations. My parents used to say it to everyone.’ She paused a moment and looked up as if trying to remember it in detail, and she smiled even more. ‘When we said, ‘I wish you enough,’ we were wanting the other person to have a life filled with just enough good things to sustain them.’ Then turning toward me, she shared the following as if she were reciting it from memory. 

I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright no matter how Gary the day may appear. 

I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun even more. 

I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive and everlasting. 

I wish you enough pain so that even the smallest of joys in life may appear bigger. 

I wish you enough gain to satisfy your wanting. 

I wish you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess. 

I wish you enough hellos to get you through the final good-bye. 

She then began to cry and walked away. 

They say it takes a minute to find a special person, an hour to appreciate them, a day to love them; but then an entire life to forget them.. 

Once Upon A Time in Ethiopia

October 30, 2008

A short tale of a Chinese food-aid volunteer in Ethiopia.

Perfect dance with imperfection

August 7, 2008

[Sharing from a volunteer friend about Chinese dancers Ma Li and Zhai Xiaowei. They performed ‘Hand in Hand,’ choreographed by Zhao Lirnin in a modern dance competition on CCTV 9 TV channel.]

Dear all,

This is a forwarded article/ youtube video from a friend. A touching story demonstrates how to go beyond limits of ourselves, and walking out from depression to receive lights.

Loves and Lights,

When I was in  China  last month, I saw a Chinese modern dance competition on TV. One very unique couple won one of the top prizes.  The lady, in her 30’s, was a dancer who had trained since she was a little girl.  Later in life, she lost her entire left arm in an accident and fell into a state of depression for a few years. Someone then asked her to coach a children’s dancing group.  From that point on, she realized that she could not forget dancing.  She still loved to dance and wanted to dance again.  So, she started to do some of her old routines, but, having lost her arm, she had also lost her balance. It took a while before she could even make simple turns and spins without falling.

Then she heard of a man in his 20s who had lost a leg in an accident. He had also fallen into the usual denial, depression and anger type of emotional roller coaster. But, she determined to find him (seemingly he was from a different Province) and persuade him to dance with her. He had never danced, and to ‘dance with one leg…are you joking with me?  No way!’  But, she didn’t give up, and he reluctantly agreed thinking,  ‘I have nothing else to do anyway.’

She started to teach him dancing 101. The two broke up a few times because he had no concept of using muscle, how to control his body, and knew none of the basic things about dancing.  When she became frustrated and lost patience with him, he would walk out.  Eventually, they came back together and started training seriously. They hired a choreographer to design routines for them. She would fly high (held by him) with both arms (a sleeve for an arm) flying in the air. He could bend horizontally supported by one leg with her leaning on him, etc.  In the competition, as you will see, they dance beautifully and they legitimately won the competition.  Ingenious how they incorporate the crutch into the routine!

I would like to share with you the most magnificent and touching performance I have ever seen. It is living proof that strong human spirit can conquer any physical limitations!

《一塊地,總有一粒種子適合》

July 18, 2008

有一個女孩,沒考上大學,被安排在本村的小學教書,由於講不清數學題,不到一週被學生轟下台。
 
母親為她擦了擦眼淚,安慰說,滿肚子的東西,有人倒得出來,有人倒不出來,沒必要為這個傷心,也許有更適合你的事情等著你去做。
 
後來,她又隨本村的夥伴一起外出打工,不幸的是,她又被老闆轟了回來,原因是剪裁衣服的時候,手腳太慢了,品質也過不了關。
 
母親對女兒說,手腳總是有快有慢,別人已經幹了很多年了,而你一直在念書,怎麼快得了呢?女兒先後當過紡織工,幹過市場管理員,做過會計,但無一例外,都半途而廢,然而每次女兒沮喪回來時,母親總安慰她,從沒有抱怨。
 
三十歲時,女兒憑著一點語言天賦,做了聾啞學校的輔導員,後來她又開辦了一家殘障學校,再後來,她在許多城市開辦了殘障人用品連鎖店,她已經是一個擁有幾千萬資產的老闆了。
 
有一天,功成名就的女兒湊到已經年邁的母親面前,她想得到一個一直以來想知道的答案,那就是前些年她連連失敗,自己都覺得前途渺茫的時候,是什麼原因讓母親對她那麼有信心呢?
 
母親的回答樸素而簡單,她說,一塊地,不適合種麥子,可以試試種豆子,豆子也長不好的話,可以種瓜果,瓜果也不濟的話,撒上一些蕎麥種子一定能開花,因為一塊地,總有一粒種子適合它,也終會有屬於它的一片收成。
 
聽完母親的話,女兒落淚了,她明白了,實際上,母親恆久而不絕的信念和愛,就是一粒堅韌的種子,她的奇蹟,就是這粒種子執著而生長出的奇蹟。
 

How To Dance In The Rain

March 5, 2008

It was a busy morning, about 8:30, when an elderly gentleman in his 80’s arrived to have stitches removed from his thumb.

He said he was in a hurry as he had an appointment at 9:00 am.

I took his vital signs and had him take a seat, knowing it would be over an hour before someone would be able to see him.

I saw him looking at his watch, and decided, since I was not busy with another patient, I would evaluate his wound.

On exam, it was well healed, so I talked to one of the doctors, got the needed supplies to remove his sutures and redress his wound.
While taking care of his wound, I asked him if he had another doctor’s appointment this morning, as he was in such a hurry.

The gentleman told me no, that he needed to go to the nursing home to eat breakfast with his wife.

I inquired as to her health; he told me that she had been there for a while and that she was a victim of Alzheimer’s Disease.

As we talked, I asked if she would be upset if he was a bit late.

He replied that she no longer knew who he was, that she had not recognized him in five years now.

I was surprised, and asked him, ‘And you still go every morning, even though she doesn’t know who you are’?

He smiled as he patted my hand and said, ‘She doesn’t know me, but I still know who she is’.

I had to hold back tears as he left; I had goose bumps on my arm, and thought, ‘That is the kind of love I want in my life’.

True love is neither physical, nor romantic. True love is an acceptance of all that is, has been, will be, and will not be.

The happiest people don’t necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the best of everything they have.

‘Life isn’t about how to survive the storm, But how to dance in the rain.’

With Prayerful Heart, I Pray that I will be able to:
Learn & Move on from my Past,
Focus & Enjoy my Present,
Plan & Work for my Future,
Consult my Warm Heart, but Decide with my Cool Head,
Do all things with Passion & Good Purpose.

Don’t Get Paranoid & Stressed Up For Nothing

January 13, 2008

[A forwarded story]

Dear friends,

Thought this is good enough to be shared with you’ll. I think we could learn some lessons here but, of course, whatever you do you may still want to check with your Doctor first.

I would like to share with you an actual & sad occurrence which I hope may get you guys to ponder over what constitutes anxieties, extremities & unnecessary over reactions. A long story…but you may want to pass on to others.

One of my friend’s father, a retiree in his mid-60s, perfectly looking & behaving normal, plays his round of golf each Sunday, does a fair bit of gardening, keeps himself busy the rest of his time helping his son’s (my friend’s) little retail business & goes on tour trips every now & then…..was persuaded by his daughters’ & other well wishers to go for his medical checkup which he had last done before retirement some 10 years ago.

He didn’t see the need to do it as he was feeling perfectly OK & healthy. Of course he didn’t want to spend the money. After persistent persuasion from his family he finally gave in (his daughters agreed to foot the bill). First his blood test revealed a total cholesterol count well above the 5.2threshold (in fact close to 6). The doctor advised that he went for his stressed ECG test. Again he had to be persistently persuaded to go through that test, which he did. And it revealed some abnormality with his heart.

Now the doctor advised he went thru angiogram. He resisted again & again after much pestering he subscribed to that invasive test….which revealed 3 blockages in his heart. And the doctor advised he went thru angioplasty. This time he was adamant not to go any further. But it was like the end of the world for his family members who were all highly educated people with learned common sense. They went thru the highest mountains & deepest oceans to convince the old man to go thru angioplasty.

The surgery was successful. And he was given a clean bill of health His heart is revitalised & cleared of all blockages. After returning home from hospital, his family (especially his daughters) put him on a “healthy” diet. Strictly no meat…only vegetables and fruits, with perhaps an occasional dish of steamed fish…no oil.

The result….the poor old man became weaker, couldn’t drive his golf ball the distance he used to, got tired easily when he did his gardening, lost a lot of weight (which everyone was happy because they see him getting healthier that way), went to bed unusually early (cos he got tired sitting up late watching the Astro sports channels)…. in a nutshell he actually got weaker & probably suffering from mal-nutrition!

Hardly 2 months after the angioplasty he passed away, supposedly from heart complications. All of a sudden, a few family doctor friends were able to offer explanations. One of them had this to say… Heart blockages do not happen over-night. They are built up of time. And the body has somehow gotten used to the blockages. As long as the effects of the blockages are not life threatening, it may be best leaving them alone. Maybe it is better not to know about this. For most men at that advanced age already have blockages, some may be even worse. Not knowing it
has 1 clear advantage. There won’t be any STRESS imposed on the person. And STRESS is the killer. Some may not respond well with angioplasty.
With the heart cleared of its blockages, the blood flow will be unrestricted. And sometimes the body (even the heart may not be used to this new revitalised condition) may not know how to cope with it quick enough. Coupled with a “healthy” diet of just fruits and vegetables which are not the usual & normal intake of this person may & can do further damage. So it’s a combination of all these that could have killed this poor old man who was, just 2 months ago, a healthy bubbly man living a perfectly normal STRESS FREE retired life. Today my friend & his siblings all regretted what they had done to their father.

Moral of the story is not to be extreme & take everything in life in its stride & with moderation.

Two Choices

December 23, 2007

At a fundraising dinner for a school that serves learning-disabled children, the father of one of the students delivered a speech that would never be forgotten by all who attended. After extolling the school and its dedicated staff, he offered a question: ‘When not interfered with by outside influences, everything nature does is done with perfection. Yet my son, Shay, cannot learn things as other children do. He cannot understand things as other children do. Where is the natural order of things in my son?’

The audience was stilled by the query.

The father continued. ‘I believe, that when a child like Shay, physically and mentally handicapped comes into the world, an opportunity to realize true human nature presents itself, and it comes in the way other people treat that child.’

Then he told the following story: (more…)

Live each day to the fullest

December 17, 2007

过好每一天 — 妙妙

「我每天祈求神给我力量、智慧及清晰的思维去过好每一天。」 这是在最近一次的家访中,老朋友莉、重复告诉我们这个令亲朋好友感动及鼓午的信念。

两个月前因为眼晴的视力逐日减退,莉预约给全国癌症中心的医生检查。资深的医生一检查、要她立刻做脑部扫描,并且留院观察。好不容易等到听取扫描报告的当天,主冶医生询问她的登记号码时,一种不祥的感觉涌上心头。她徐徐地说出了号码、不敢正视医生的双眼,耳边听到:「这次扩散到脑了。」第三次的癌症病发,莉的心是无比的恐慌;脑袋一片空白,含着花望着医生、无助地问:「为什么会这样的?!」医生摇着头说不知道,安慰着说:「幸好发现的早,虽不能开刀、吃药能缓和病情的。」

六神无主的她,让哥哥帮她处理出院后一切的医药复理。回家后看到年迈的妈妈,痛苦地说:「妈,我的眼迟早会瞎的,不久也无法走路了,这样活下去还有什么意思呢?!」两母女不禁悲中来、抱头痛哭。

莉执教鞭到半百,本想换个工作岗位做个辅导老师,为年学子解忧及分享人生;但生命无常,她的理想成了泡影。她不敢去想靠着药物过日子的生活该如何规划,日渐肿大的脸掩不住心灵深处的茫然、颓丧及悲伤。

在莉的生命陷入这样的低谷时,亲朋好友不时从旁帮忙及鼓励;尤其她的妈妈无微不至的关怀及照顾、终於感动了她去面对现实、并接受治疗。在一位毕业的学生的介绍下,她开始服用一位中医师配给的药,疗效令人鼓午;最近复诊的结果、显示出其他部位的恶瘤有缩小的迹像。

看医生、吃药的日子似乎过得缓慢及刻板的。莉的心情变化起伏相当大,心情恶劣时谁也不想见,有封闭自己的倾向;家人不时从旁开导,不过是时好时坏。
有一天,一位毕业生打电话联络到她、邀请她出席结婚典礼。莉的心情是悲喜交集,能参加学生的婚礼是欣慰的事;可是心中有顾虑:不敢以自己那残缺、病态的身躯面对以前的学生及他人异样的眼光。善解人意的毕业生一再告诉她:「您的出席会让我的婚礼更有意义,因为你是我们敬爱的老师。」学生真诚的邀请打开了莉的心。

出席婚礼前几天,莉的理发师去她家、为她剪了一个清爽、容易处理的发型;并告诉她日后要理发时、会再来她的家,不需再上理发店。彼此多年来的善缘,如今理发师以贴心的服务回馈她。学生婚礼当天,贯常戴她上课的德士司机、把她送到举行婚礼的教堂,其他毕业生在门口迎接她;以往健步如飞的老师、变成如今得靠着拐杖走路的情景令人难过,然而莉勇敢的出席了婚礼却令学生十分感动。勇敢的踏出了一步后,莉开始拾回失去的信心及希望。接下来的星期天就与一位朋友开始到教堂做礼拜,为自己失落的心灵找一个家。

心境因心灵的提升有了改观,莉接着买了一副放大镜来阅识书报、发简讯及写电邮。最近还买了一架电风琴,自学一些乐曲,自娱自乐;也圆了小时想学乐器的。她也开始进行一些简单的运动及静坐。明年她的其中一个计划是到日本及台湾旅行及探访亲友,也准备到临终关怀中心当义务辅导员。

现在的莉、就像迎着朝阳的向日葵,展现出阳光般的光辉,有了自己要走的方向;她告别忧伤后,温暖了自己也温暖了他人。

莉,衷心祝福你:日日是好日。

High-Achievers

December 10, 2007

“It’s time to embrace the ‘f’ word.”

In their search for perfection, writes  Alice Pung, may our high achievers also find a little perspective along the way.

NO TEACHER likes to hear the “f” word, particularly not during final-exam time.  That’s understandable: “failure” seems frightening when students are constantly told that they are not limited by anything, and should excel at everything. A certain paradigm of success is encouraged, and a particular type of student is hailed as the consummate model to fulfill this ideal: the High-Achiever.

The High-Achiever is the perfect student because teachers have no need to upbraid her, only to encourage. If she ever struggles, she is asked to think of her tribulations as material for a potential book about her future glory. She is labeled a perfectionist, but that is not to be considered a term of derision.

Conversely, she is taught to list it as her greatest flaw to land jobs in interviews. Yet although she may be accomplished at everything, there is one thing that the High-Achiever cannot handle: the dreaded “f” word.

As a teacher, I am taught never to tell students they’ve failed, only that they “did not pass”. Students are sensitive, we are told, and any shake to their self-esteem will shatter their desire to achieve. We are taught to teach our students how to succeed, but we never let them question why they should. Once during a school visit when I put that question up on a big overhead projector, an alarmed teacher asked whether I was telling students to fail.

But when I speak directly to high school students they are curious, because they are braver and more resourceful than our society gives them credit for. Students realise that if we don’t learn to have a good relationship with failure, but are just taught to doggedly work at success, then the terrible fear comes in. The fear of losing. The anxiety about not attaining. The conviction that your best is never good enough.

As a university pastoral care adviser, I know that often the High-Achiever is a person with severe anxiety problems. She will cry in the toilets if she gets an A instead of an A+. She will control her body in self-destructive ways, while the rampant fears in her mind are left unchecked. She may be the migrant who is studying at the library during lunchtimes because when she gets home she has to
sew for her parents. Or she may be the middle-class model from Kew who coaches the debating team and runs a marathon. But often when she comes to see me, she is not a healthy person.

When I was 17, my teachers took me to a small and secret room within the labyrinth of school corridors, so that I could re-learn how to breathe. I had also lost the ability to remember when to eat, sleep and speak.  Up until I “lost it”, society, my loved ones, and well-intentioned people continued to reward the anxiety-ridden, petty-minded and unhappy person I was because my academic achievements appeared so impressive.

But there is nothing impressive about a nervous breakdown. No one wants to know you anymore. Your friends float into the periphery. You are like a useless machine that no longer works, a computer that has run too many programs, caught a virus and crashed. Who will use you for inspiration now, when no one wants to catch your disease?  Dulled by depression, your rubber-mask of a face must not be seen, so you learn to hide yourself from the world. You are a cipher.

This is the other side of success – the risk of losing your resilience, courage and curiosity.  At 17, I lost it to such a degree that I no longer cared whether I ate, slept or survived. This doesn’t fit into a narrative of accomplishment.

This is the reason why I never focus on telling a tunnel-vision story of success to students.  Not all of us will reach such dizzying heights.  Yet all of us have experienced some degree of loneliness, loss, self-doubt and despair.  We must learn how to deal with these very real matters first and foremost. We must realise that being successful will not eliminate these natural and inevitable feelings. We must realise this before these negative feelings become insurmountable.

If you have cultivated an anxious, unhappy persona, it’s harder to be happy merely because of a change in circumstances.  In fact, any higher accomplishment will only breed more insecurities and anxieties, larger and more hideous than the last.

As our students sit their final exams, I hope they will give it their best shot and remember that what matters in the long run is not perfection, but perspective. When Sir Winston Churchill said that “success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm”, he had pretty good perspective. Let’s hope that this is the kind of learning that is encouraged in our students.

Alice Pung is a Melbourne lawyer and the author of Unpolished Gem.

Teaching Children about Love

December 10, 2007

Antidote to Panic

November 22, 2007

[by Pamela Bloom]

Recently I was scheduled to have the medical test known as a colonoscopy. It is an extremely invasive procedure into the most intimate parts of one’s body and therefore frightening for most people. For that reason patients are usually asked to bring someone with them so they can be accompanied home. Unfortunately, due to the timing of my procedure, I didn’t have anybody to come with me, so I was already feeling quite vulnerable from the start. On top of that, my veins are quite small and my doctor had a terrible time inserting the IV for the anesthesia. For some reason, my memory of the day is sill fresh, as if it is happening now. Strapped to the gurney and dressed only in a patient’s gown, I do everything not to squirm, but he misses… first time … second…. third. The needle is huge and the pain is excruciating. As he taps up and down my arm looking for a vein, I can feel his nervousness through his finger. Seeing me break out in a sweat, he asks if I ‘ve brought somebody with me. Tears well up in my eyes. “ That’s Okay,” he says unconvincingly., “ You’ll be fine. “ Finally, on the fifth try, the needle connects with a vein. I’m about to exhale in relief when I hear him yell to his attendant, “ Okay, hit the music. “ At this point, the loudest, most raucous, most offensive rock music blasts through the room. I’m stunned. I can’t believe I have to ask him t turn it off.

“I can’t, “ he says, strapping on his mask. “ This is the way I work. “

I’m just outraged. Strapped down like a prison, I feel the heavy – metal beat rattle my bones and I feel like I‘ve entered hell. Sweat pours down my face and I begin to shake unconditionally. Never before have I felt so trapped in a nightmare, and worse, there is absolutely no escape. In less than a minute, I will probably be unconscious. I actually feel like I am about to be executed, poison draining into my system through the IV. I’m completely on the stage of panic and the only thing I have on my side is my own mind. And then, squeezed by this physical, mental, and emotional claustrophobia, something shifts, and maybe because I am in such an intense state of suffering, I suddenly open to an awareness where I feel not just my suffering but also the suffering of umpteen billions in the world who have gone through this same kind of experience. I think of my friend Sylvan who endured thousands of IVs during the long years of his diabetes. My father and mother, my brothers, before surgeries. Millions I have never met who face trauma, fear, helplessness, every day. The room feels full of spirits. Then somewhere in me, almost as if I had been rumbling in the dark for eons looking for it, a prayer arises in my mind, one taught to me so long ago by my master: May all those who have this same kind of suffering never have to experience it again. May this suffering I am enduring release them form their agony.

And then I am out of cold. My next memory is the nurse telling me it’s over. The procedure had gone fine, and after the IV episode there is almost no pain. I get up, dress, and take the subway home by myself. The whole episode is almost like a dream. But the experience taught me something I will never ever forget — How easily distress can arrive, how helpless sentient beings are, and how entrenched prayer must be in our mind-streams so we use it when we need it.