A Story in a Picture

Sometimes a picture might tell a story. Perhaps this one tells a little about life in Shanghai. Perhaps it tells a larger story.

The two men in the foreground: I wonder what they are thinking.  One appears to be anxiously looking for something. A taxi maybe? The other, casually crouching on the curb. Is he waiting for a ride? Just passing the time?

Look closely inside the gate.  A young couple (perhaps students because they are both wearing backpacks) pass by rows of doors that lead into the lives inside the apartments.  Laundry hangs from the windows and across the narrow street. Most of the apartments have window air-conditioning units. It looks as if this was once a modern and upscale apartment complex.

More people are deeper inside, heading toward us. There must be another entrance into the complex because there are a few cars, and of course, the ubiquitous bike, both motorized and foot-powered, and it doesn’t look as if a car would fit through this iron gate.

I frequently go about my life, concerned about only that which directly affects me. I don’t consider that there are countless numbers of people all over the world who have their daily problems, concerns, joys, and loves. I believe that it is important to stop and think for a moment that we all share the same desires, not just for food, shelter, and clothing, but for companionship, safety, and peace. Sometimes, if we are lucky, we find a way to fulfill these desires, and, if we are very fortunate, we might find a little love along the way.

LIFE

The Blessings of Good-bye

I’ve wanted to write about the experience, but each time I sit with my red leather journal or at the computer, words fail. Yet …. I need to write about it. Perhaps someday it will come out. I had written a little bit about my father’s battle with Alzheimer’s previously (Hope).

Daddy’s Hands in Prayer: He truly possessed the fruits of the Holy Spirit: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23)

Last week was intense. Daddy went into the hospital Tuesday night and was released Wednesday night to go home to die, at his request. My mother, all of my brothers and sisters (I am the oldest of 10), and most of his 21 grandchildren were with him in his last days. We kept vigil, sometimes praying, sometimes telling stories, sometimes laughing, sometimes sleeping, from Wednesday evening until Friday morning.

We were all standing around his bedside as he took his last breath on Friday morning, June 8. His death was dignified and peaceful. Although we are enormously sad, we are thankful that his struggles and pain are over and that he and my family, especially my mother, are spared further ravages of that horrid disease Alzheimer’s.

I am blessed that I was able to be with him. Had this happened just two weeks later, I would have been on the other side of the world.

I am blessed that I had the opportunity to stand by his head, with my older son beside me, during his last moments.

I am blessed that he was where he wanted to be, at home. There were no tubes, lights, monitors, machines, strange sounds and scents … only the peaceful sounds of prayer and soft tears.

I am blessed to have spent five days with my large family; by Monday, both of my sons were with me. Because we are spread across the country, it is rare that all of us are in one place at the same time. Our father brought us together in a very special reunion.

One of Daddy’s favorite Bible verses is from 2 Timothy: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day —and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” (2 Tim 4:7-8 NIV)

He has finished his race, he has kept the faith, and he now has his crown of righteousness.

Alzheimer’s had stolen bits and pieces of my father over the last several years so that he was only a shell of the great man he once was. He suffered with breathing problems and heart problems, and throughout his life he lived in constant pain in his feet and his back.

He had only an 8th grade education, but he was as intelligent as people with triple the amount of education. His mind was sharp and clear; he could calculate any problem, design (and build) a kitchen or a house. I rarely saw him just sit and rest; he was always working on something, whether hoeing in the garden or building a piece of furniture (after putting in 8 – 10 hours in the factory).

I am blessed to be his daughter, and I am doubly blessed to be able to spend his last hours on this earth with him.

I don’t have a picture to share; I took some, but they are private. However, as I left the church after the reception, I glimpsed a bee hard at work. Because my father worked so very hard all of his life, I thought it appropriate that this bee would be there for me.

taken with Canon G12

Weekly Photo Challenge: Together

What a delightful day! It actually began last night when I babysat my granddaughter (continuing into this morning). You know, babysit is not exactly what I do. In fact, it’s closer to “hanging out with Elle.” I am her playmate. “GRAMMA!” she squeals, calling me to play when I leave the room or attempt to do anything that is not directly related to the game of the moment. Of course, I don’t mind at all. When she snuggles up next to me on the couch, there is nothing better. Elle and me TOGETHER!

After hanging out with Elle, I went to the park to take some pictures. Within a few minutes, I happened upon this man and asked if I could take his picture. He gruffly answered that he was doing yoga so I started to move on after sneaking this first shot.

Then I decided that annoying him might just be worth it, especially if my annoyance came with a little cash. I think he told me he’s “Lizard Man.” Look closely at his costume made of pull tabs (and more). I asked if he made it himself and he proudly answered that yes he did. He also informed me that if I really wanted to take some pictures of him I could do so at the Starbuck’s on Mill Avenue every afternoon.

When I asked again if I could take his picture, he insisted that anyone who takes his picture must be in it also. I wondered if his young female companion might just walk off with my Nikon, but I thought I could possibly chase her down. (As you can see, I didn’t need to.) He also insisted that I give the peace sign. I was only too happy to oblige. So, in a way, I took a picture TOGETHER with Lizard Man in the park today.

After I gave him a few dollars he thanked me and then reminded me that he needed to finish his yoga, soaking up the sun like a lizard.

After my moments TOGETHER with The LIZARD MAN, I captured the fragile bougainvillea blossom (that blooms on the nastiest thorniest branches ever). All TOGETHER … a very fine day.

Garden Peace

The Yuyuan Garden in Old Shanghai

I like this image, but the original just didn’t do anything. The colors are washed out — the garden is old and the colors actually are faded and worn. The images was just too “OK.” I think it makes a stronger statement in black & white.

Old Shanghai Garden

Doorways

I snapped these doorways in the Yuyuan Garden in Old Shanghai. Each one beckons the visitor into the peace of the gardens, which were established in 1559 as a private garden created by Pan Yunduan, to please his father, Pan En, a high-ranking official in the Ming Dynasty. The gardens had fallen into disrepair and were almost completely destroyed by the British during the Opium Wars.