Saturday, August 20, 2011

Goodbye to Grandpa Hwang (Yeh Yeh)

Spontaneous poem written by my grandmother

For seventy three years,
we loved and watched out for each other

You were an energetic man with wings

We could not fly side by side,
like love birds in the sky

We were like intertwined vines on earth

Today you went ahead of me,
resting in the bossom of the Lord

But I still treasure your foot prints

Forever you will live in my heart

Love, Check

My portion of the eulogy remembering my Yeh Yeh on August 19, 2011

We all know my grandfather had a love of all things air-related -- airplanes, flight and skies. By the time my grandparents arrived in Canada, and by the time we were born, his flight career was a previous chapter of his life. And I want to remember him more than just what he passionately did for his career. I want to share more personally of the person he was.

My grandparents first arrived in Canada in the spring of 1976. That was the year i was born, in May. My parents decided to put them to work right away and left me behind in their care when I was one month old, while they went off to vacation in New York. He was my first care giver.

When I got older, he continued to care for me in practical ways. I am glad that I came to Vancouver to study 16 years ago, because of the opportunity to grow in my relationship with him. He gave me his first TV in Canada so I could watch TV while at school. He gave me a fabulous clothing iron from the 1950s that I still use today -- it's much better quality and built to last than anything you could buy today. He always told me he would care for me, that if I ever needed him or anything, just tell him, because I was his granddaughter.

But more than these practical ways that he cared for me, what I will treasure most is the spirit he exhibited especially in his last days. I thank God for what a clear mind and heart to talk with us whenever we came for visits. He was always in good spirits, joking with us, telling us what we were like as children when he was taking care of us. You could tell he was taking pleasure in us and enjoying us and his family. The nurses repeatedly commented on what a good and pleasant patient he was, joking with them, saying how good their care of him was. Despite his weakness, tiredness and physical struggles and suffering, he didn't complain about being in the hospital. In fact he joked about why he didn't come sooner to the hospital to enjoy such good quality care.

I really feel God gave him a softer, more tender spirit in his last days. He was always thanking and praising God for giving him such a good life with so many blessings, and bringing him this far. On one particular visit where I arrived around his dinner hour, I had the privilege to help him with his meal. In between bites he kept saying how glad he was for a family that loved him and granddaughters that cared for him.

My grandfather left us a good example of leaving this life well. He had made peace with God. When the pastor visited with him, he knew of his place in heaven and God's love for him. Despite the conflicts that life brings, despite the conflicts that our human nature and weaknesses can stir up in our relationships, he made peace with all his loved ones. He was grateful for a good long life filled with blessing. He was ready to go.

Last week my sister and I went to the hospital for another visit, which turns out was our last. It was Sunday, the day he passed away. He was sleeping so peacefully, breathing ever so gently. So I didn't want to disturb him. I sat down and watched him while I prayed for him. I thanked God for him and how much Jesus loves him. To see him so tender in his spirit, really showed me how God was working in his heart and life. I could see Jesus in him. I prayed for Jesus to be close and present to him even in his sleep, every step until the time he would call him back home with a big warm welcome. And then I said goodbye and left.

And shortly after, he went back to his heavenly home into God's faithful presence, eternal and unconditional love for him. I know that he is enjoying an even better room than at the hospital -- he's enjoying the room and mansion that Jesus said that he is preparing for each of his children that love him. I know that he is joking with and enjoying God face to face. I am thankful that as we remember and celebrate Grandpa's life, we can have hope that we will see him one day again in God's presence.

"High Flight" Poem by John Gillespie Magee Jr, read by my cousin

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds -- and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of -- wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there,
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air...

Up, up the long, delirious burning blue
I've topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or ever eagle flew --
And, while the silent, lifting mind I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the fate of God.


Dilys said...

A poignant and touching eulogy, Justine. I love your grandmother's poem, too -- it's evident they loved each other so.

enitsuj said...

Thanks Dilys. Their 73 years of marriage is quite an inspiration. Simple and lasting faithfulness, and God's blessing. My grandma wrote that poem on the spot! Now we know where our literary genes come from ;)