Home thoughts after eight years in Beijing
Updated: 2014-07-25 16:53
By Erik Nilsson (China Daily)
Grandparents enjoying time off with their granddaughter.[Photo/IC]
|Iowa expat finds China connection|
|Excuse me, while I check my phone|
I knew it'd be the last time I'd see him alive. He did, too.
Not that Grandpa seemed sicker than he'd been in the past two decades. He'd been seriously ill as long as I could remember. He used to joke that the surgeons should just put a zipper on his chest. Many of my childhood visits were to his hospital bed.
But we both knew the recent, sudden loss of Grandma was too much for him. Neither of us said so directly. Still, we spoke as if these were our last moments together.
He'd long had heart problems. But it was a different kind of broken heart that claimed him.
I remember the night in Beijing when I got the e-mail from my father, half a world away, about Grandma's passing. It was about 2 am and I was rushing to finish a story before leaving for the train station for a business trip at 5 am.
After taking a personal moment, I punched out the story's end, straining to see what I was typing through tears.
I filed and rushed to the station.
It was the grayest day I can recall in more than eight years in Beijing. More than any other day, more than anything, I wanted to be home.
The lesson of losing Grandma was to call home regularly. Even on nights when I was exhausted and still had work to do, despite the 12-hour time difference, I called my family every weekend.
That made it easier when I got the news Grandpa had passed away, shortly after I returned to Beijing from my US visit, which was largely to see him and the rest of my family.