I still remember the first time I saw his face, which revealed his experiences in life. Ten years ago, on a snowy night, I met him in the grandest house I had seen at the young age of eight. The room was filled with people I didn't remember, but there existed a closeness, the thickness of blood. Each was a member of my family, separated because of desperate times in China. That day we met, but I was too sick from the never-ending flight to express the joy.
It was my uncle who had opened the doors for us: my parents, siblings, and me, to come to Mei Gok (Chinese for America). It was he, who worked for our opportunities, cooking in a restaurant during the day and studying at night to pass the ever-so-important naturalization test. While he had less than three years of education, he was indeed the most intelligent and perfect man whom I aspire to be like.
The father of two and husband of the worst of wives, he strove for the best future for his two young children. He sent them to Catholic school, filled the house with more than enough of their favorite foods, made the warmest of homes, and was always there to support them in any way.
His only hobby and outlet was music. On Sundays, his day off, after his trip with my cousin to Chinatown, he often sat with his family or played with one of his seven instruments. I still remember the afternoons when I listened to him playing along to his favorite Chinese opera and the nights I waited for him to return from work. He passed away, but the memories will forever live within me.
He always encouraged me to work hard for what I deserve. Being a witness of his undying spirit, I've taken him as my idol, because he is greater than any super hero, athlete, or scientist. He was my uncle, a proud man who made the most of his life and certainly did all he could in his power for others. -
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.