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|Romantic Recreation & Re-creation (standard:romance, 2921 words)|
|Author: Mookoo Liang||Added: Mar 13 2006||Views/Reads: 1980/1421||Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)|
|This is a story about my better half, submitted just before her birthday this year, 2006. I would like to share it with you. May the Lord bless her, her & my friends, and you---anyone who is reading this "romance"!|
Click here to read the first 75 lines of the story occupation. Regarding one's retirement, both Jean and I have recently talked about it more often. Our consensus was like this: "Before you retire, you should make careful preparations; if you want to retire earlier than the normal retirement age, you have to prepare yourself in more detail." I thought of my best friend and colleague Mr. Yao, who had just retired from his Dean-of-Studies position in February (2006). He described his motive for retirement as "to catch hold of the tail of the prime of life." It was obvious that he intended to make good use of the final part of his "golden age." As a healthy person in his 50's, Mr. Yao had started to enjoy himself by swimming in the morning, cycling in the afternoon, playing golf two or three times a week, going to the movies on weekends, traveling together with his family or his friends, and . . . Oh, what an enjoyable life! Mr. Yao's retirement would be filled with a wide variety of recreations. The other day Catherine, an English woman who had been sent to Taiwan as a missionary, asked me several personal questions, "What are you planning to do after retirement? Is it possible that you follow the example of your neighbor Mr. Zheng to study at Tainan Theological Seminary?" "Oh, it's hard to say," I replied. Mr. Zheng, my good neighbor and dear friend, went to Tainan Theological Seminary as soon as he retired from his teaching job at a senior-high school, at the age of 50. He loved the Lord so much that he decided to devote the rest of his life to the Church. It seemed to me that being a clergyperson was much "harder" than being a layperson. The same idea had occurred to Jean, so I told Catherine that I preferred to be an ordinary person. "If possible," I added. "I would like to be a story writer, living with all my heart, reading and writing with all my mind and might." "Really?" Catherine said with a smile, "I guess you really enjoy creative writing, but don't forget that it's Lord God that created all beautiful things; in other words, everything good was originally from Him. Why don't you just write about those good and beautiful things created by Him?" Well, I promised to write something romantic in addition to something realistic; if possible, I would combine these two components to make a meaningful whole story. I wished to become such a sensible writer, regarding my writing as some sort of "re-creation" as well as recreation. Jean seemed to have known my ambition only too well. She told me that she would rather be less ambitious. "I have been a career woman and housewife for so many years; I wish I could be a whole-time housewife right now!" she said. But my understanding was that she would think about taking "early retirement" just because she had been so very busy with her teaching job and with housework. It was true that Jean's attention was mostly focused on "jia." (This Chinese word has three closely related connotations: "home," "house," and "family.") For the sake of our "jia," she started to learn how to plant flowers. She presumed that gardening was a good way to beautify one's dwelling, and would be a "romantic" hobby for a retired person. Time flew. Both Jean and I were getting old: she was now 49 and I was three years her senior. We began considering the possibility of taking early retirement one or two years later, hopefully at the same time! "Shall we also 'catch hold of the tail of the prime of life' as Mr. Yao?" I asked Jean the other day. Her answer was interesting: "Why not? But before retirement we actually have something to do; we had better furnish the third floor, and redecorate the first and second floors, of our house!" She was right. When we bought this house in Wufeng, we didn't have enough money to furnish or decorate all the three stories of the building, so the top floor was entirely empty, with all the walls unpainted, until two months ago when we had our house redecorated and re-equipped. Now on the third floor were a beautiful new bedroom and a multi-functional "audio-visual room." Both Jean and I were very pleased to have such a soundproof room, where we could enjoy good music, sing KTV songs, or watch TV or other loud programs without worrying about disturbing our next-door neighbors; in addition, we were very happy about the well-designed ornaments of grapevines on the door to the new bedroom. This room was intended for our only son Tony, who was now studying in a graduate school in southern Taiwan. We expected that he would understand the biblical meaning of the "real vine" (see Gospel of John, 15:1-10) and we hoped he would be as "productive" as grapevines bearing rich fruit! In fact, Jean and I had also renewed some of our furniture and equipment on the first and second floors. Apart from the new TV and the sound system in the audio-visual room, we bought another TV set to replace the old one in the living room. We bought ourselves a new queen-sized bed. And now we had made our son a new bedroom on the third floor, I decided to use his original bedroom on the second floor as my study, for it was just next to the "master bedroom" Jean and I shared. To my surprise, Jean insisted that I should have a better desk to use, and she bought me a really nice one immediately, although I emphasized that it was during my retirement that I would possibly need such a big desk for creative writing. Jean also put a small and beautiful flowerpot on my new desk. How considerate (and romantic) she was! Since our house was completely redecorated about five weeks ago, we have invited quite a number of friends to us. Among the visitors were Jean's and my colleagues and friends. Jean's good friends Li-Li, Mei-Fang, for example, and several other teachers came and sang lots of KTV songs in our soundproof room. One afternoon, they came again, together with their principal Ms. Chen, whose fiftieth birthday was unexpectedly found out and, without any delay, celebrated in an interesting way right in our house. Some of our church friends came to visit, as well. Catherine, the missionary from England, was an example. And our good neighbors Mr. and Mrs. Zheng, whenever available, would be invited to be with our visitors. (By the way, these days Mr. Zhen returned to Wufeng less often, as he was busy writing a theological dissertation at the seminary.) "We should share good things with our best friends," Jean seriously said one evening. "You know, our friends are limited, yet we're getting old. It's necessary for old people to have a number of good friends." "Oh, dear, you are still young," I smiled, "and I'm also in the prime of life, ain't I?" "You can say that again," she smiled back. "But why did you talk about 'Catching Hold of the Tail of the Prime of Life' over and over again?" Well, in spite of her romantic ideas such as flower planting, Jean could be realistic sometimes. She was really my better half, a smart wife! She did most of the housework at home and, as a schoolteacher, she had been teaching better than I had. Furthermore, she had a very good teacher-and-parent relationship. Last Saturday, Mr. and Mrs. Lu, parents of one of Jean's students, took their three children to Wufeng. Together with Jean and me, the Lu family took a walk along the beautiful "hiking path" constructed by the local Township Office. This narrow path, winding up and down the Foggy Mountain, led to the Memorial Park of Provincial Assembly. While walking and chatting on the way, we saw green plants swaying in the cool spring breeze, we heard birds and insects singing distinctively, and we even stopped for a moment to watch butterflies dancing among the wild flowers. All the children were as happy as the adults. When we all came to the Memorial Park, a very cute squirrel appeared on a tree, jumping here and there among the branches. Mr. Lu's three children were so excited. They tried to quietly approach the animal, while I stood at a distance. I took my harmonica from my jacket pocket, and began to play a tune created by myself. "What's that, Uncle Liang?" the youngest, four-year-old boy asked, pointing to what I was blowing. "A mouth organ," I said. "Oh, that's a mouth organ," he looked excited. "A mouth organ can play?" "Yeah, do you want your daddy to buy you a mouth organ?" "But I don't know how to play it." "No problem! You can learn, from somebody." "Oh, Uncle Liang! Would you play me one more tune?" I was very surprised that this small kid was able to express himself so well. His parents must have spent a long time helping him to learn. Well, if only I had got a grandchild similar to this small and smart kid. Then we invited Mr. Lu and his family to a nearby restaurant for lunch. The restaurant was a farmhouse-like building with broad glass walls, surrounded by gardens of trees, bushes, and flowers. While eating inside, we could enjoy all beautiful things out there in the yard, including an eye-catching pool with colorful fish in it. I saw Mr. Lu's youngest boy quietly getting close to the fish pool, and his elder brother and sister running toward him quickly---to keep him from falling into the water. "You've taught your children well," I said to the parents. "It's your wife that taught successfully," Mrs. Lu replied. "Indeed, Teacher Jean has changed our lao-da (first son) into a considerate and helpful boy!" Having a conversation with Mr. Lu, whom I met for the first time, I leaned that his concepts of education were very similar to mine. He had studied in the US for many years and he firmly believed in such ideas as "whole-person education," "good character prior to good skill," and "multi-learning, multi-ability, multi-values." By the way, Mr. Lu was now a VIP at Chung Hsing University, which was next to Jean's workplace and not too far from our house. It occurred to me that we teachers should learn more about "individual difference" and do our best to help each of our students, just as Jean was taking good care of all the flowers that she had brought home---flowers so different in size, in shape, and in color! Variety is the spice of life! Last Saturday both Jean and I had a wonderful time because we had some special guests. After the Lu family left from the restaurant at two o'clock, we returned home and took a nap, preparing ourselves for another "party" in the evening. Around 6:00 pm, as previously scheduled, some of my colleagues and their families came to us. They were Mr. Yao (the retired Dean of Studies), Mr. Lin (my good helper, head of the military instructors), another Mr. Lin (whose wife had just given birth to their second daughter), Mr. Chen (the new Dean of Studies at our school), and so on. As usual, we invited Mr. Zheng (my good neighbor who was being trained to be a clergyman) and his wife to be with us. Jean and I entertained them firstly at another romantic restaurant, called "Dong Ba"---suggesting Eastern Paris? We had a nice meal and a wonderful chat over there in the open air; we were very excited about the performance of a music band, the brief firework display unexpected to us, and the ten or more man-made palm trees brightly shining with hundreds or thousands of small bulbs. Later on, we all returned to our house and spent the rest of our "fellowship time" in the audio-visual room. My colleagues, their wives, and their children sang lots of KTV songs. From "Niao yu Shu" (birds and trees) to "Feng de Yanse" (the wind's color); from "Nanwangde Ren" (unforgettable person) to "Nanwangde Airen" (unforgettable lover)---It goes without saying that younger and older generations would choose different songs to sing! But everybody sang so happily that evening. Unlike my better half, I myself was a poor singer. However, all my colleagues and friends loudly praised me for my "excellent performance" as soon as I finished singing my favorite song "Meilide Hua" (beautiful flowers). Even Jean told me that my singing skill was greatly improving. Well, Jean was so popular with her students and their parents. I believed that it was mainly because she had always been giving other people encouraging words. At the end of our "fellowship time" last Saturday, about 11:00 pm, Jean suggested that all of us listen attentively to, and try to remember the words of, a particular song entitled "Zui-langmande Shi" (literally, the most romantic thing). It appeared that all our guests were deeply moved. When they left, Jean and I quickly cleaned up everything and then returned to the audio-visual room, where we stayed until after midnight. We shared a lot of things with each other. Sure enough, most of her dreams were (and are) my visions. <The End> Tweet
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