Andreas, my eldest son, left for Beijing on Sunday for a three-month immersion program.
We had missed the weekly Saturday night dinner with Mike’s family a few days before because Mike had something on. So to let Andreas have a chance to say goodbye to them, the family decided to have an impromptu gathering at my mother-in-law’s house on Sunday afternoon instead.
Mike’s younger brothers came to the house bearing gifts for Andreas and lots of advice. Uncle P had taken more trouble than us to assemble a first aid and medicine kit for his nephew. An assortment of ready-made Chinese herbs for sore throat, fever, stomach ache, food poisoning, medicated oil, lozenges, mints, etc. Frankly speaking, I don’t remember Andreas ever using any of these in Singapore. Nevertheless, it’s wise to be prepared. Like a pharmacist, he took everything out and explained carefully to Andreas the usage.
Uncle J and his wife had gone shopping for a flannel shirt as a parting gift. It’s going to be cold (16 deg C now as I write) and the shirt will come in handy.
Andreas was delighted by the attention and unexpected gifts. These, plus the pullover and jackets that Uncle F from Germany brought over, had saved his parents lots of money and headache. We, the parents were also appreciative.
During the gathering, Uncle P also advised Andreas to knock on the door first before entering his room and to let the tap run, ‘to chase away any spirits’. We all laughed, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Haunted hotel rooms stories (or dormitory rooms for that matter, in this case) are well-known. For the first time, the family really chatted with Andreas.
Andreas’ Ah Gong had prepared dessert ‘longan jelly’. As we were enjoying it, I noticed that he was scooping a portion into a plastic container and putting it in the fridge. ‘Must be for Ah Gong’s after dinner dessert.’ I had thought.
All too soon, we had to leave as there were packing to do and lunch for Ivan, who hadn’t joined us. Ah Gong took out the container from the fridge and handed it to me. ‘For Ivan,’ he said. I was touched. He hadn’t forgotten Ivan.
In the car home, I reminded Andreas how lucky he is to have Uncles that love him and care for him. He said he knows.
As I gave Ivan his lunch, I took out the dessert and told him how Ah Gong had prepared this for him. he mumbled something in acknowledgement.
Asians aren’t demonstrative by nature. Mike’s family do not hug and kiss or even call each other frequently. But they show their love and care with little gestures that are so heart warming.
Andreas’ two younger brothers had refused to hugged him goodbye even though Andreas was all ready for a hug. They vanished immediately when I told them to hug Andreas, as if Andreas had a plague. No matter. As long as they demonstrate love and care when the time comes.
Little gestures of love is best demonstrated when the least expected.