Lee Hsiu 李秀
Blooms in My Forest Grove
The trembling leaves of this tree touch my heart like the fingers of an infant child.
Father and I enjoyed playing chess together. I always lost. Seeing a checkmate approaching, I would purposely dump the board.
“I don't want to play this boring game anymore.”
“Why do you get upset and angry? If you don't mend your ways, you will go nowhere. Remember, never do things halfway.”
He set up the chess pieces, pausing briefly to touch the bandage on his head ever so lightly. My eyes filled with tears of gratitude; he was still alive, still trying to help me improve.
By the time we finished the game one. A man appeared at father's bedside. He asked carefully, “Uncle, are you feeling better?”
“Dad, this man brought you to the hospital yesterday,” I explained.
“I'm okay, I guess. Why am I here?”
“You were hit by a car and received some serious head injuries. The doctors had to sew you up.”
"Boy, which was unlucky!” He put his hand on the back of his head and sighed.
Father had turned eighty. His memory was already getting worse before the car accident. But after the accident, he couldn't recall anything that happened more than one minute before. We were all very worried. I decided I should speak to the doctor.
“It's been two or three days since the accident, and he hasn't been vomiting,” the doctor said. “He should be out of the woods. But because he had a concussion, he requires several days of observation.”
As evening approached, father demanded his keys, glasses and hat. His glance darted toward the door, and he fidgeted with the keys in his pocket. We tried in vain to calm him down. Then I remembered the chessboard.
“We can go to do some game, how about a little game of chess?” I asked.
He gladly agreed and gradually calmed. Playing chess seemed to bring back some of the memories of his early days with Grandma because the game was taught by grandma when he was a child. I made sure that he won every game. He almost was an expert in this game.
“You are still beating me,” I told him.
“Well, you know, I have been playing chess since I was a little child” he said. “I know the game inside out.” He glowed with pride. As he laughed, his wrinkles got even deeper. I noticed the tree branches swaying outside and pondered the pleasure of joyful wrinkles.
Father had special names for the chess pieces: “Go straight,” “Go across.” He used to ride his bicycle to the public park to play chess with some old friends when he was in good health.
Now I found out the recollection of father to stop at the things of the early days, but after this time the mishap he couldn’t remember anything at all.
"How is father doing?” when I walked into the ward, I asked my husband as I quietly opened the door.
"He is always going to the toilet, but he can't seem to urinate."
"Did you ask for the doctor's help?"
"I didn't want to bother him in the middle of the night. The doctor was complaining that we all want different things. Maybe we shouldn't be so demanding."
For three days and three nights, father couldn't sleep. This would be very difficult for a healthy person. How did my sick father manage to do it? I became very angry with my husband for not insisting that something be done. Noticing my husband's exhaustion, I recalled that he hadn't slept for three days either. I calmed down.
Darkness settled in around me. It was like a grey cloud that enveloped my father and me. He was continually agitated. Nothing, no one, could settle him down. Like a child woken by a clap of thunder in the middle of the night, I was shocked into action. I went to the doctor’s house and banged on the door anxiously. I woke up the doctor and demanded action.
"As you know… this hospital only specializes in acute brain trauma. We suspect that he has problems of his prostate, diabetes and skin allergies… I suggest you must transfer him to the general hospital."
Therefore, we needed to look for another hospital. We dreaded introducing more changes into father's life.
"Dad, we want to move you to another place, ok?" I said softly.
"Oh, up to you, my dear. Please don't cry." His hand caressed my head.
We were amazed how cooperative he was. Just like an obedient child. He didn't even ask to go home like before. He had always been the family anchor. Now he needed us.
Friends asked me how many tears I cried. "First you cried because he wanted to go home; now you cry because he doesn't," they said.
But my thoughts were thousands of miles away, on the relationship between parents and me. I was murmuring to my father. In fact, it seemed murmuring myself, “Father! The years have turned your hair white. Hard work has robbed you of your youth. Autumn has passed. Winter is here. Twenty years ago, mother died. I have always dreaded losing you too. I treasure every precious moment with you.”
Even though I knew the words, “Death belongs to life as birth does. It means happiness and suffering co-exist”, it was impossible for me to grasp these things. I could barely conceive that everything I was or hoped to be was a gift from my dear parents. Every fiber of my being wanted both parents to live long lives so that they could be with me whenever.
Father stayed in the general hospital for another three weeks. During that time, family members visited faithfully. My husband never missed a day; my brothers competed with each other to be with father; my sisters-in-law looked after every helpful detail. When one wants something with all one heart, one will joins with that of the universe and becomes a positive force.
“It was a miracle, but he has recovered despite many complications…” the doctor paused and smiled. “The only explanation is your love…”
Indeed, a leaf can become a flower if it is loved. A flower turns into a fruit when it is worshiped.
Once again, father invites me over to play chess. He now loses, every time.
"My girl is quick-witted," my father says.
"Like father, like daughter," I reply.
Morning will come. Darkness will vanish. Father's health will bloom in my forest
' Put out the lamp when thou wishest. I shall know thy darkness and shall love it. '
●Lee Hsiu 李秀囘應
Even though put out the lamp when I wishest (actually, I need to face it), I know my darkness and love it.
父女情深，寫來絲絲入扣"Like father, like daughter,"
Father's health will bloom in my forest grove.